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El Capitan Trail (historical)

HARD 126 reviews
#23 of 244 trails in

El Capitan Trail (historical) is a 13.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 13.5 miles Elevation Gain: 4,681 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

hiking
23 days ago

Hardest I’ve done and that is after doing Angel’s Landing 3 years ago! First 3 miles is difficult as there are only rocks and rock stairs-fine going up but after going to the top of El Cap and 16 miles in your legs will pay the last 3 miles down! Poles help! The last 2/3 miles to the top of El Cap are poorly marked- no sineage. Going back we did get lost for about a half hour. Saw a bear by upper Yosemite falls and deer. View at the top is pretty much a view from heaven looking down! A journey- be in shape; bring plenty of water, bug spray, a bear bell, snacks and will! But hey- we’re 53 years old- one had full knee replacement 18 months ago and I had heart surgery! It can be done! Apple watch: 47000 steps; 20.5 miles 12 hours total with some stops and a quick pb and j at the top! Beer and food later never tasted so good! Safe travels!

hiking
24 days ago

great beautiful trail. great views. the waterfall had very little water at this time of the year (september). difficult climb and difficult descent. but totally worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

Incredible hike. Those switchbacks are no joke though - we saw many people unprepared on their way up to the falls. Be sure to bring trekking poles to take some of the strain off your legs. Be sure to do Eagle Peak on the way down - this is a MUST with bucket-list worthy views.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Take plenty of water

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Strenuous hike with decent views. We just did El Cap and Eagle peak. The view is better from Eagle Peak than El Cap. There was just a small stream of water for yosemite falls. I will recommend to do it in June or when there is a lot of water. Distance Details: 16 miles round trip for El capitan. If you do Eagle Peak, it adds another mile. If you do yosemite point and upper yosemite falls then add another 2.5 miles so it becomes around 19.5 miles.

hiking
1 month ago

great trail, completed today, limited traffic and beautiful views. This trail is definetly longer than 13.5 miles. water springs available for filtration.

hiking
2 months ago

Very tough hike....the hardest that our family has ever done!!! Bring lots of water and a filter for this trip. We used 2 water sources to fill back up. We used at least 3-4 liters per person. The hike is 19.1 Miles....not 13.5 That is based on my Garmin. Trust us, its 19 Miles. A huge shout out (Thank you) to the park service, for clearing all the trees that have blown over the trail. The harder the hike, the greater the reward.

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

From Old Big Oak Flat Road to El Capitan Summit and back is 20 miles, exactly as in the sign at the trail head. Due to the ups and downs the elevation gain is approx. 4800 ft. Getting there is easy. You will see a sign for Old Big Oak on Route 120/Tioga pass road about 3.5 miles in. Arrive early for the 7 or so spots available at this place. Cross the road and you will see the 10 miles sign for El Capitan. The trails winds up and down thru dense vegetation offering views of the road and the parking lot about a mile into the hike. It then meanders thru similar thick vegetation, and into a pine forest as it descends to a series of creeks (about 4). About 2-3 miles in is the big creek (can be full of water on the way back presenting a bit of a challenge to cross it). One more similar but not as difficult creek crossing, you will reach the trail intersection (intersection of Foresta/Tamarack). Starting out at old big oak road, you would be coming out of the Foresta trail onto the intersection. The sign to El Capitan is rather obscure, and to the right of the Foresta trail. From this point it is about 6.5 miles to the summit. You'll find yourself on a fire road, working your way to a bridge. Cross the bridge, and you'll be on the continuation of the fire road aka Old Big Flat road. Some reviews i found led to some confusion around this area. While the reviews said 500 meters, or in some cases 800 meters to the next El Capitan sign, it is actually 1 mile. The el cap summit sign is to the left and here the climb to the summit begins. Parts of this climb (about 2 miles) I would rate at 20-23% grade, a series of rock stairs sometimes not obvious (but not hard to find). Once you clear this area the next land mark is a meadow and more open rock area that follows which finally tops out. At this point you lose some elevation unfortunately (a pain on the way back), as you climb down thru the pine forest before once again emerging on the rocky summit of El Capitan. The views are breathtaking and well worth the effort. Its a long haul out and back (20 miles) but the Yosemite weather & views are great for this long hike. Started at 6:45 AM and were back 5 PM, including a 40 minute lunch break on the summit. Also took about 1/2 hr worth of break in between. Bring bug spray and preferably water proof shoes (depending on snow and rainfall during the year). This hike is difficult to strenuous depending on fitness etc.

hiking
2 months ago

Completed this hike on 7/28/19 from the Valley Floor. Getting started at 6:30am was one of the better decisions I could have made. Made it to the trail junction just before 8:30 before I started heading towards El Capitan. After the initial 3 miles climbing up Upper Yosemite Falls, the trail really flattens out until you get to the turnoff for Eagle Peak. This would be a great alternative for those that do not want to log the mileage of El Cap. Just note the mileage for Eagle Peak states 0.3 on the sign, but it is definitely at least double that. The last 2.1 miles or so to El Cap are up and down which sucks on the way back when you have a section or two of climbing in miles 9 and 10. The views from the top are incredible and there are even trees with nice shade for you to relax and take it all in. If you start early enough this is a very peaceful hike with a lot of solitude until the last 3 miles coming back when you run into everyone going up Upper Yosemite Falls. Definitely have a water filter as it is a long day and there are many water sources to fill up. Logged 16 miles and just under 5,000 feet of gain for the day.

hiking
3 months ago

I only hiked this trail down from El Cap summit after climbing The Nose. The El Cap summit offers sweeping views. After that, it’s nicely rolling up and down through the pine woods, which however became quite tiring with 60-70 lbs of gear in and around the backpack. Then, down from Yosemite Falls was easy. Total one way trip was about 8.5 miles per GPS tracker.

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

Absolutely amazing!! Hiked it on 6/22, still a little wet/muddy. Definitely more than 13.3 miles and not for beginners, but well worth it for anyone willing to put in the work. Falls are pumping. =)

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
rocky
snow
3 months ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
rocky
3 months ago

The trail was beautiful but there are still some fallen trees on the trail. You'd need cross them or go around them. The trail is not 13.3 miles. It is 16 miles and if you want to go a little bit around for pictures etc then it'll be about 18 miles. If you take detour to yosemite point and eagle peak then it's around 20 miles. Eagle peak is beautiful, you can see the high Sierra range on top of yosemite fall from there.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
off trail
3 months ago

Trail was difficult to follow in many parts due to blown over trees, debris with mud and flooding. This made it more challenging in a fun way but required several stops to explore all angles around debris and fallen trees in order to find the trail. We were running out of daylight so we chose to summit Eagle peak instead. Eagle Peak trail also had some debris but was excellent! I assume some trail maintenance will be completed soon which will improve conditions. We will be back to complete El Capitan summit

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