Mount Dana Summit Trail

HARD 70 reviews
#21 of 214 trails in

Mount Dana Summit Trail is a 4.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mariposa, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

4.8 miles
3,083 feet
Out & Back




nature trips

rock climbing



wild flowers


no dogs

A day hike to Mt. Dana, the second highest mountain in Yosemite National Park. Mt. Dana is relatively easily accessible peak and is the second highest in Yosemite National Park (Mt. Lyell is the highest one). The trail head is located right next to the east entrance of the Yosemite National Park. There are no trail markers or maps but there is an unofficial use trail to the top and is pretty easy to follow. The trail starts with an easy walk through the meadows before it starts going up through a series of switchbacks. After about 1.5 miles from the trailhead and about 1,500 feet high, you reach a flat area and the peak comes into sight. You are about half way at that point and the serious climb is about to start. After you walk across the flat area, the trail gets lost in the rocks and you have to follow your instincts and the stone cairn markers and head towards the peak. You will be hiking up loose rock and need to be careful with your footing. Once you reach the top, the views are incredible!

24 seconds ago

Hard to believe this was just under 5 miles. It's very steep at the end, so you really just need to take your time. But this hike really has everything. It's beautiful to walk through the forest and see some lakes, beautiful wildflowers, and occasional deer. Then it gets fun when you scramble across some avalanche slides and then head up for what seems like an endless amount of time. Eventually, you get to the final summit which is mostly just climbing on a lot of big rocks, every one of which will shift, slide, or roll as you step on it, so WATCH YOUR FOOTING. The trail, as it almost always is, is a little harder to find on the way up, but if you just look for the big cairns and generally head up, you'll get there no problem. Views from the top are amazing with snow-capped mountains throughout the park still in August.

14 days ago

Hiking Mt Dana was one of the most difficult hikes I've done, especially considering that it's not a really long hike. It only took me two more hours to hike from the top of the Grand Canyon to the bottom and back up again and that was close to 17 miles, not six! The altitude starting at 10,000 feet and ending at over 13,000 feet made it tough. Hiking up and down through scree made it that much tougher. For this flat lander, it was more technical than I'm used to and no one has ever called me a mountain goat for good reason.
The hike up Mt Dana was definitely worthwhile and I'm proud to say I've done it. I was slow, but I got 'er done.
We had also planned to do Half Dome, but the wildfires had closed Yosemite Valley.

22 days ago

beautiful scenic hike from trail head. lots of wild flowers and lakes for great photo opportunities. very hard the last two miles with constant climbing, but great panaromic view from the peak.

30 days ago

Did this on Friday morning of July 20th, starting at 7:42 am from the Tioga Pass entrance and summited less than 3 hours later. Had to almost run all the way back down when I heard thunder from the clouds getting darker, even though it was clear skies when I started. Aside from that, it was a fantastic hike as the smoke from the Ferguson Fire wasn’t a problem that day, and visibility was great in every direction, giving some great panoramas! Starts off gradually then gets steep as you clear the trees to the meadow, then it’s steep scrambling almost all the way to the top. The trail is well beaten into and is clearly marked by cairns when it fades into the loose rocks on the final ascent. Would definitely recommend if there are no clouds or storms forecasted!

1 month ago

Did this hike on July 8. The beginning of this hike was beautiful! Lots a wild flowers and ponds! The ending sucked! It’s all loose rock! Once you get closer to the peak we saw sky pilot, which is a flower that only blooms at certain elevations! It was pretty cold at the top so bring a jacket.
One of the hardest short hikes I’ve ever done!!

1 month ago

Was great!

1 month ago

Mt Dana has been on our list of hikes to tackle for a few years and I kept putting it off to “prepare”. We went ahead and did it last week and *ahem* lets just say I was not quite prepared. Lol It’s no joke, for the average hiker. I made it to the top in a little over 3 hours so not too bad, but I was sore for dayyyysss. The views were AMAZING.

The trail in the beginning is pleasant then turns to steep steps/rocks and parts where you may scramble over boulders and such. In my opinion, coming down was harder, I’m 43 and my knees were not happy.

I was grateful for my trekking poles!

I had a crew of 6 teens with me who did great. Overall we had an amazing time.

1 month ago

Mt Dana Summit was amazing! We summited last Saturday 07.07.18. This is a 7 miler r/t hike not 4.8miles. Endless inclined all the way up and scramble rocks terrain. This hike is hard but worth the views! The first mile trail wasn't too bad and covered with the trees but keep in mind you are starting at 10000ft elevation.
Make sure u start early. It's open area after a mile hike.
We started at 6am and we summited at 1130, we took our time and enjoy the views!

1 month ago

More strenuous than I expected LOL. Nevertheless, made it to the top and loved the incredible views. I would say the trail is actually not that hard to follow, it’s pretty beat in. I was only confused trying to find the start of the hike —the beginning literally starts right next to the east entrance/exit. I’d say this is probably one of my favorite day hikes I have ever done.

trail running
2 months ago

Jogged(???) up yesterday (6/15) and there was epic wind. But it's an awesome trail with stunning views at the top. Had to scramble through some knee deep snow in places, and the rock hop to the summit, but so worth it!

What surprised me was that the wind at the summit was nearly non-existent compared to on the way up. I headed up around 2:00pm, and only saw three other people on the entire trip. Took about three hours round trip. For a guy who has spent all his life at sea level, and from a country with the highest mountain of around 6600ft, this was rather unique!

6 months ago

I'm a ranger in Yosemite and this is hands down my favorite day hike in the park. Difficult and technical in places, but the summit is more than worth it. Be aware of weather, things can change very quickly up there and you could get caught in an unexpected storm.

9 months ago

I completed this trail yesterday (Nov 11th). I choose to start this later on in the day in order to take some shots during the sunset. The trail is very easy to follow. There is a bit of frozen ice and snow along the trail at the higher elevation so I highly recommend bringing a grappling hook if you plan this hike during the colder months. Dress WARMLY because the wind starts to pick up after you cross the plateau. One of the best hikes I've completed within Yosemite.

9 months ago

Pretty technical but worth the views. Start at about 10k elevation and end just over 13. So beautiful!

11 months ago

So beautiful! Every step is worth it. Can be intimidating during the last half mile straight up, just don't look up and focus on step by step. Going down feels so long, actually for me it was harder than going up .

11 months ago

Great views from the summit, after a pretty steep climb on a good, but often rocky, use trail.

11 months ago

Beautiful 360 views, including a view of Mono Lake. Very steep, well-marked trail. Be careful of possible altitude sickness. I would recommend giving yourself at least one night nearby to get acclimated.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I have actually been wanting to do this trail for quite some time. But I have to admit that it seemed rather intimidating, especially to someone like myself who doesn't quite 'measure up' as a hiker. But everything seemed to go pretty well as far as hiking up the trail. There were a couple of spots with snow, and one spot where I actually had to cross a snowfield on a slope. Buy there were enough sun cups in the snow that it was no big deal.

One thing about this hike REALLY surprised me - the presence of a pretty decent trail to the top. Many reports on this hike seem to say that, on the final climb, you are pretty much rock hopping. But it seems that, at this time, there is a pretty decent and easy to follow trail to the top. Even if you should stray from the trail, the rock cairns will help keep you on track. And the trail wasn't even hard to follow in pitch darkness.

Needless to say, views are STUPENDOUS from this mountain. Unfortunately, because of delays getting on the road, I didn't start this hike until 6:00 in the evening. So it was dark by the time I got to the summit - no views of Mono Lake. But the views on the way up were GREAT. It is certainly a rather different way to view the whole Tuolumne Meadows/Dana Meadows area. And, of course, the feeling of the alpine tundra area of the mountain itself was nothing short of surreal.

The bottom line? If you like high alpine hiking, this is the trail for you. You get to see AWESOME scenery and summit a 13000ft mountain that is not too far from the park road. Come see a part of Yosemite that most people simply pass up!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

awesome views at the summit. Well worth the hike.Slow paced our selves and spent approx 6 hours included long stop at the summit.

Monday, August 14, 2017

4 distinct landscapes(forest, flowers, grass, stone) make this a very interesting hike. It is up there in elevation so altitude sickness may be an issue for some but our group came from the valley (300ft elev.) same day and most were able to complete without any issues...though it does get tough on the last 300 yards of scramble so take your time and listen to your body. Incredible views pretty much start to finish. Recommended for well seasoned hikers in good physical shape.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hiking on above 10000ft elevation reminds me my upcoming Mt Whitney hike is not a piece of cake. In this Mt Dana day trip, we got afternoon thunderstorms, but overall it worth the trip, because we got rewarded beautiful wildflowers and breathtaking views.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Very difficult hike acclimate first enjoy the scenery

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Well considering you gain over 3,000ft. el. in just 2 1/2 miles and you're already at 10,000ft. what would you expect? NOBODY'S going to 'run' up this.

Monday, August 07, 2017

8/7/17- Challenging hike with the significant elevation gain in a short distance. Did this as a warm-up and acclimitazation hike for Mt. Whitney (8/9). The views were breathtaking! I really enjoyed the variety of settings- start in wooded area with beautiful flowers and small ponds. Above tree-line had fantastic views looking into Yosemite. At the summit were 360 views of snow-capped mountains and Mono Lake. One of the most beautiful hikes I have done. The trail was blocked in a couple places by snow patches, but could easily be maneuvered around. We stayed to the right on the first patch then easily crossed over the snow (someone had even put down stepping stones). The second patch was bigger and we stayed to the left as we ascended until an obvious area to traverse. This was no big deal- easy, obvious. Met three 10 year old kids on the trail who had no problem. Follow the cairns to the summit. This hike is so worth it for the views! Note: there is no sign at the trailhead. We parked on the road just shy of the Tioga Road Yosemite entrance. Across the street from that building is a big tree and the trailhead starts just to the left of it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Very difficult, but doable. Allow enough time the day before to get acclimated to the high elevation. There are 3 snowfields that are a bit treacherous but doable. I was able to go up the right side of the second one, then cross where it was flatter. You can glissade (sled) down the highest one, but the snow is a bit mushy. Look for the cairns. The trail is easier to locate and stay on when you are descending than when you are going up. I hiked super slow and took about 8 hours. Hiking poles a must for crossing the rocky terrain. Bring bug repellant as well because the mosquitoes were relentless in the forested section (first mile or so).

Monday, July 24, 2017

This is a great trail for a Peak of this magnitude. We got off trail trying to avoid the snow fields but if you you just go straight through the fields if they are present then look for the LARGE cairns; they will keep you on trail and lead you directly to the summit. If you have to ask yourself if you are on the main trail, you probably aren't.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hiked this trail on July 16, 2016. Awesome trail, lots of alpine and sub alpine flowers in bloom, and of course great views. But, this trail is VERY strenuous and has little to no maintenance since it is not a designated 'trail'. There were three snow fields that you cross (you don't have to, they are avoidable if you like toe-stepping on questionable talus), and the final 1,000 ft of elevation on the trail is marked with large cairns to guide you. Allow 4.5-6 hours to complete this trail, depending on your individual pace. Best to start early in the summer, afternoon rain showers are quite common.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

7/15 The trail was mostly well marked at this point. I was told I would have a hard time following it. Fairly well marked. lots of rock scrambling, especially towards the top. There is still a bit of snow to hike trough. I wanted a high elevation hike to prepare me for a Mt Whitney hike. I drove up to Mount Dana from the Valley and hiked up same day within couple hours. I suffered from altitude sickness the last 500ft. I still pushed through and made it to the top. This made the difficult hike even more so. The views were absolutley beautiful...all the way up. I hiked it alone. There were enough people that I never felt alone, but not too many where it felt crowded. This was the toughest day hike I have done to date! Lots of rock and steep!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

I did this hike on July 6th after Tioga Pass opened on the 1st. I was surprised there was not more snow up on the Tuolumene Meadows area so the trailhead was completely accessible. However, once you begin the hike through the forest, there was some large patches of snow that made it difficult to locate the trail at times. Once you get past the tree line, the trail is mostly on rocks and boulders. This made it very difficult to follow at times! However, you know that the general direction of the trail is to go up, so that's the way to go. There were still some large snow fields that you need to cross in order to reach the summit but these were easy; it just takes some time. Once you get to the last 1,000 feet on elevation, the trail kind of comes and goes. I found myself mostly rock scrambling my way up to the top. Be aware you begin the hike at 10,000 feet and the summit is past 13,000 feet! You will probably notice a difference in the air :) Really, a beautiful hike with sweeping views of Tuolumene Meadows and the High Sierras. Then you are rewarded with an amazing view of Mono Lake at the top. It's definitely a difficult hike but I would highly recommend it if you're up for the challenge.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

I did this hike 9/30/16. I only saw 4 people on the hike. It was a hard hike and Incline was fast. The day I went was windy so I brought layers. As you increased in elevation, I added layers. Make sure you bring lots of hydration. I felt like I needed more in the higher elevation. The path for the most part is fairly easy to identify. As you get towards the rocky area, the path is identified with small rocks so just follow that. There are also large cairns so head towards that. The view at the top is amazing and surreal but it was super windy the day I went so I had to make sure my footing was stable. You can see my photos above.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

with a average grade of 20% (3400 feet in 3 miles), asap you hit 11500 feet, you will feel the altitude which will slow you down. surprisingly, the trail is well marked with stone crains. All the loose stones makes it difficult to hike up. this does not need any permit- thats the best part.

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