Mount Dana Summit Trail

HARD 90 reviews
#23 of 228 trails in

Mount Dana Summit Trail is a 7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Groveland, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

7.0 miles
3,103 feet
Out & Back



nature trips

rock climbing


bird watching




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!

3 months ago

As of 11/18 still no snow to deal with but frigid temps early am before sunrise. Short but steep hike, on a brisk November day it was nearly empty! Took me 5 hours total.

3 months ago

we did this hike late in October. the trail is very clear even though it's considered to be not an official trail. the distance is short and some times deceives you. the steep climb more than makes up for the length. it's a continuous upward hike with sections of the second part of the climb becoming a scramble. there is a large plateau section after the first half and gives you some time to catch your breath and prepare for the steep second section. it's typical of most holes above 11k , Rocky and changing trail. Cairns on the way show you the trail and help you stay on track. the view on the top is rewarding, mono lake on the background, Dana glacier which was barely there and steep drops. there is a wind protected spring area where the register was kept inside a gladsware box. the summit market has weathered and towards the edge of the cliff, try finding it without some help, very inconspicuous.

the climb down was faster but also very hard on the knees. there loose rocks also make it tricky. no one had talked about AMS on this hike but would like to caution folks attempting this to be very aware. in our group of 12, only 3 made it to the top and almost 6 to 8 of them had middle to high symptoms of AMS. most common is headache. saw couple of guys return without reaching the summit due to this. overall a good achievable 13k+ hike. we started at 930 and finished around 5. start early if you want to avoid getting late.

4 months ago

My second time up to the top of Dana. Gotta love that view. It's icy towards the summit right now, with more snow on the way. Bring spikes.

4 months ago

Awesome peak hike! My group was able to do it in 5 hours. There is no water up there to be sure to bring enough with you. The trial is very easy to follow and well marked.

4 months ago

Most of the reviews here are pretty accurate. I didn’t prepare much for the strong wind hence, it was a struggle for me specially during the last stretch. It’s pretty chilly in the summit so even though I wanted to spend more time there, my body just couldn’t handle it. Overall it was a good experience and the view from the summit just blew me away.

5 months ago

Hiked on 8/25 at 8:00am. came from the West End of Yosemite so parked just outside the East gate on the road at that time a day parking was not an issue.
Not sure why it says on here the hike is only about 5 miles it’s really more like 7 1/2 according to my fit bit. The first part is indeed easy but once you start going up you keep going up took me about 3 1/2 hours to get to the top mostly because of the elevation so I had to go super slow and I took some snack breaks. The views going up a pretty amazing and will make you almost want to stop because you feel like this is as good as it gets and the climb is pretty intense but carry-on! once you get to the summit the views are even more amazing on the other side, definitely worth it and there’s a little Tupperware container with books that you can sign your name and add a note to when you get to the summit. be sure to do that! I think the down was actually harder than the up. really hard on your toes. i used polls for the way down to help me balance which saved me a couple of times from really slipping hard. Bring lots of water I went through over 2 L and it was not hot in fact once you get to the summit it’s pretty chilly and just before the summit it gets super windy so bring a warmish jkt with a hood you won’t regret it.

6 months 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.

6 months 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.

6 months 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.

7 months 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!

7 months 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!!

7 months ago

Was great!

7 months 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.

7 months 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!

7 months 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
8 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!

Saturday, February 03, 2018

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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

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.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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 .

Monday, September 18, 2017

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

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

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).

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