A Beautiful Canyon.
The Right Fork is a beautiful canyon, though it takes considerable effort to get to the best parts, the waterfalls. While the Left Fork requires 2 hours of rugged hiking up a streambed to get to The Subway, the Right Fork takes about twice the effort to get to the first waterfall, though the hike itself is quite nice. Once there, the Right Fork offers several nice waterfalls and an interesting section of canyon. A massive fire in June 2006 scorched the first two miles of this hike, and that section can be very unpleasant, and the trail difficult to follow.
The Right Fork from the Bottom makes a good off-trail backpack trip. The Right Fork through-hike is a wonderful, two-day canyoneering route requiring rappels and swims.
There is a great deal of poison ivy in the Right Fork. Fresh flowing water is available the full length of this hike, and requires filtering.
If done as a backpack trip, plan on staying close to Double Falls, and exploring without heavy packs past there.
Moderately strenuous hike
8 to 12 hours, or overnight
Only if you are backpacking in and staying overnight
Spring, summer, or fall
Zion Wilderness Desk: 435-772-0170 Zion EMERGENCY: 435-772-3322
Sturdy hiking shoes, ample water and food for a full-day hike
Water is available to purify, as the trail follows the creek. Bring at least two liter bottle anyway, and start with them full.
FLASH FLOOD RISK
Low - There are no sections of sustained narrows. Crossing North Creek to get back to the car could be impossible in flood conditions.
Starts and finishes at Right Fork Trailhead, on the Kolob Terrace Road
The trail gains 1000 feet (300 m), and most of the hike is in the full sun.
Spring - Expect higher and colder water flowing during spring runoff, when crossings may be deeper. Neoprene socks are nice if getting feet wet (likely).
Summer - HOT! Leave early to avoid the heat and be aware the hike out is in full sun. The first couple miles from the trailhead are especially exposed, with very little shade.
Fall - the BEST time to hike this route, with great fall photography along the creek bed.
Winter - Possible snowpack and ice along the waterfalls. Use caution and check current conditions at the Zion Wilderness Desk.
From Springdale, drive south and west 14 miles to the town of Virgin. At the top of the first hill, turn right onto the Kolob Terrace Road (KTR) road. The paved KTR road winds through a neighborhood, cruises through the pastures along North Creek, then climbs a dramatic ridge in making its way to Kolob Terrace.
Six and a half miles from Virgin, the road enters the park and three trailheads are soon encountered; Right Fork is the first one you'll reach, on the right. Park at the Right Fork Trailhead, 7.0 miles from the town of Virgin. The trailhead is not shown on many maps, but is close to the Bench Mark labeled BM 4501. Driving time from Springdale is 25 - 30 minutes.
From the Trailhead, follow the trail southeast through the blackened Pinon-Juniper ghost forest to the rim of the canyon. The map does not show the steepness of the rim. Carefully descend the trail through lava cliffs and down to the stream. Make a careful mental note of where the trail cuts back up to the rim, as it can be hard to find at the end of the day, and getting back to the rim without the trail is dangerous. Turn left (upstream, northeast) at the stream and proceed upcanyon ¼ mile (400 m). The stream forks – take the right fork east into the wide canyon.
Rugged hiking in the streambed for several hours leads to the best part of the canyon. As the canyon narrows, a double-waterfall jetting into a pool is found. This is Double Falls. A trail on the right cuts around the falls, and allows access to the next waterfall, then to the falls above that one – Barrier Falls. Getting past Barrier Falls requires technical rock climbing on bad rock and is not recommended.
Return the way you came.