El Capitan Trail is a 9.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Salt Flat, Texas that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is best used from September until March.

Length9.6 miElevation gain1,689 ftRoute typeOut & back
CampingHikingViewsRockyFeeNo dogs
Description
Waypoints (0)

There is an entrance fee of $10/person. There is also a park-specific annual pass available for $35

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (55)
Photos (161)
Activities (40)
Completed (96)
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Phong Lê
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 10, 2021
HikingRocky

Nice trail with good views of the Salt Basin below.

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Katie Kimball
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 3, 2021
Hiking

I took the shortcut as well from Guadalupe Canyon road. It's a bit down from the visitor center, it'll be a right turn. This route is primarily the salt Basin trail, but connects with El Capitan. El capitan goes much further than AllTrails says. I went a little further before turning back and also did the salt Basin overlook. I turned right and the first 2 miles were definitely not easy. Very steep once you got going. The other four miles were much easier, but a little hard on the joints! Definitely not as steep. Spectacular views on the trail. If I had known the 4 miles back were so easy, I definitely would have gone further on El Capitan. Next time! I really took my time, I had to stop and look around every 5 minutes just to see it all! Saw several centipedes, a little pack of javelinas, and there's a lot of scat on the trail so watch where you step!

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David Johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 8, 2021
Hiking
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Adan Fernandez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 6, 2021
HikingGreat!No shade

Trail is awesome peaceful and amazing seeing deers roaming around. Hey how come no one mentions the plane wreck around mile 4-5? Told the rangers supposedly it’s been there since the 70s didn’t looked that rusted to me. Oh well it was very interesting seeing that in the middle of nowhere

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Eric Abell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 5, 2021
Hiking

Windy AF, but great!!!!

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Zachary Crane
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 19, 2021
Hiking

Trail was great, well maintained and clearly marked with hoodoos. We took the shortcut talked about in the comments. Wanted to add a few details to that. When looking for the turnoff you will see a sign marked Guadalupe Canyon rd, this is where you will want to turn off.

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Ronan Chatterjee
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 17, 2021
HikingGreat!No shadeRocky

This trail is extremely rewarding. I took the advice of another hiker to start at the Guadalupe canyon road mentioned in another review. This cuts off a few miles and gets straight to the best parts of the trail. Amazing views and rock formations, and saw some deer coming down the mountain. This should be rated strenuous as parts of it were kind of treacherous (as in loose rocks on a sheer cliff), especially in big gusts of wind. It is 100% worth it. Bring lots of water and sunscreen as this trail is very exposed. If you want solitude this is where to go.

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Gage Hull
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 2, 2021
HikingGreat!

I don’t know who rated the trail as moderate but super nope. Also felt way longer than 9 miles, to the point where I got to 8 miles and saw the trail continue to descend onwards into the distance and turned around. Don’t try this without supplies and time to make it a 2 day trip. Other than that, one of my favorite trails I’ve ever hiked. Truly isolated from people, no one else on the trail, and no sound of civilization. Plenty of animals too. You might get lost on the trail so bring a trail map and compass or gps. I know I definitely lost the trail a few times trying to get back to my truck. 10/10 will do again (with more water, supplies, time and a trail map)

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Alex Liu
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Hiking
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ALI CORTEZ
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Hiking
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arrin plowman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 19, 2020
Hiking

This trail continues farther than what it says. I highly suggest continuing another 3/4 of a mile. The views are stunning. Also, lots of wildlife and no people.

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Will Schultz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 15, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Extremely well marked and worth it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc5KhBQYMos&t=161s

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Rondi Frisch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 17, 2020
Hiking
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Laura Jean
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 1, 2020
Hiking

Hiked this in November, not too much traffic. Nice stream mid way through and the colors of the trees in fall were gorgeous.

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Ricky Marksberry
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 20, 2020
Hiking

I did a portion of this trail. You get up close to the main landmark of Guadalupe, El Capitan. You can cut off a portion of the hike. Instead of hiking from the visitor center, get in your car and turn right out of the visitor center. Keep an eye out for a pull off that leads to a gated old, abandoned road. If you drive past the El Capitan overlook pull-off, you've got too far. Walk up the abandoned road and go through two turnstiles until you reach a sign that says Guadalupe NP and points you to the trail. It seems a little sketchy but a Park Ranger told us about and said it is allowed.

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James Abel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 16, 2020
Hiking

Great trail and views, easy to follow. It leads to a saddle that was super windy the day I hiked it.

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Jeremy Clayton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 13, 2019
Hiking

Moderate to difficult hike depending on season and trail conditions, typically well traveled in peak season. Take water. Rocky trail. There are some options off this trail that offer some of the best hiking in the entire park. Not well know but ask around (seasoned park rangers will point you in the right direction), it’s well worth the trouble.

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Vera Weldon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 12, 2019
Hiking

Stunning views. It was very cold with winds from the north so we didn’t not see many animals of any kind. But I did see a gorgeous Mountain Lion half way.

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Lauri Sten
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 19, 2019
HikingNo shade

Walked first 6km to the junction. Nice views on top of canyon, would recommend. Bring lots of water!

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Leigh Files
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 15, 2019
Hiking

My husband and I really enjoyed this hike. Moderate describes it pretty well in terms of the hiking difficulty, but the heat (over 90) and the fact that there was no shade wore us down. We each went through ~3.5 liters of water! We actually took the Salt Basin Overlook trail when we reached it on the way out and then came back on El Capitan trail when it intersected.

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John Haynes
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Hiking

One of my favorite trails in Guadalupe NP

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Roger Peters
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Hiking

Couldn’t make it all the way with the family and AllTrails messed up the gps on the way back, we stuck to the trail. Absolutely beautiful.

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Justin McKee
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 13, 2019
Hiking

Very easy trail. Saw lots of deer, no other hikers. The further you go, the better the views get. Enjoy!

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Rick Mast
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 22, 2018

I like this trail, the further you go the better the views. Around mile 6 is when it gets spectacular and just gets better all the way to mile 9. Didn’t see a single person for the entire 18 mile round trip :•)

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Chris Pretiger
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 27, 2018
Hiking

Day hike (11m) with incredible views of the Salt Basin. From the Pine Springs trailhead, take the El Capitan Trail. You’ll get incredible views of El Capitan as you hike through Guadalupe Canyon. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. After 3 or so miles, follow the sign to Salt Basin Overlook. Bring tons of water, then bring a few more bottles. I did this in May, 88F at Salt Flat, and with 2L water, lots of stops and some small snacks in about 6 hours. Be sure to step down to the Salt Flat Overlook - it’s a good midway stop for lunch.

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larry waltzer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 6, 2018

Great views with wild life deer and aoudad

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