The route down The Narrows from the top is a 15.4 mile trek in the Virgin River Canyon to Zion Canyon. A backcountry permit is needed to do the route and hikers should expect to take from 8 to 10 hours. At least half of the hike is wading in the river on slippery rocks. An early start is needed. The driving route requires going through the tunnel to the East Zion area, then beyond to the North Fork Road. This backroad is paved, then gravel, then a narrower, rougher road. After 18 miles, we turned down to the trailhead. The first part is just a pleasant walk next to a stream on the Chamberlain Ranch lands. The stream enters the canyon and the walls rise above on both sides. Frequent stream crossings mean wet feet for the rest of the day.
The first half of the hike is down a narrow canyon, but the volume of water does not grow until several side steams join the Virgin River. Once Deep Creek and Kolob Creek join the river, we are in the water up to our knees, but there are deeper pools too. We had to climb over a logjam at one point and scramble down a gully past a waterfall at another point.
The fluted and striated walls of the canyon continue for the whole route. The tops of the cliffs are far above. There are a number of small campsites above the river along the route from the top down to Big Springs.
The bottom section of this route always many hikers coming from the bottom up. This is the most famous hike in Zion, if not in the whole State. Most hikers work their way upstream from the Temple of the Sinawava (end of the road) to the River Walk and into the river, going 1 to 2.5 miles up to about Orderville Canyon and then back.
We completed the entire trek in 6.5 hours. My camera stayed above water (barely). We had to tread water in some deep pools and the river rocks were slippery and unpredictable. Water shoes are a good choice and a staff or hiking pole is helpful. A dry bag for the camera is recommended. We had hiked up The Narrows from the bottom the year before in mid-October in cold water (melting snows from higher elevations) so we wore rented drysuits that time. This year our venture was in later September and the water was warm enough to hike in shorts, but we used neoprene socks in our hiking shoes/water shoes. This was our third time doing the Narrows, but in future we will come down one of the side canyons with canyoneering gear. Its on our list already.