“One of the most Iconic "trails" in the world.”
— Brian Smith
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
A permit is required
to hike to Half Dome
seven days per week when the cables are up. A maximum of 300 people are allowed (about 225 day visitors and 75 backpackers) each day on the Half Dome
Trail beyond the base of the subdome. Permits are distributed by lottery via Recreation.gov, with one preseason lottery with an application period in March and and daily lotteries during the peak summer season.
You'll find Half Dome
Trail at the intersection with John Muir Trail: Happy Isles
to Half Dome
Trail, ~6 miles from the Happy Isles
trailhead. The trail steadily climbs to the north-northwest through the forest for roughly a mile before turning west and then southwest toward Half Dome
. You'll eventually emerge from the tree-cover onto solid granite and begin ascending a steep series of switchbacks to a saddle below the cables.
The most famous--or infamous--part of this trail is the ascent up the cables. The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment. Since 1919, relatively few people have fallen and died on the cables. However, injuries are not uncommon for those acting irresponsibly.
The .Half Dome
cables usually go back up the Friday before Memorial Day (conditions permitting) and come down the day after Columbus Day.
Tips while using the cables:
Do not attempt the ascent if:
- Take your time and be patient with slower visitors
- Consider bringing used cycling gloves or gloves with traction to protect your hands. There will be a pile of used gloves at the base of the summit.
- Allow faster moving traffic to pass you (when possible)
- Remain on the inside of the cables
- Storm clouds are in the area
- The ground is wet (the cables and rock become very slick when wet; most accidents on the cables occur during wet conditions)
- You are not wearing sturdy shoes or hiking boots
- The cables are down for the winter (typically, from the day after Columbus Day until Memorial Day weekend) (Check conditions update for status and any available updates)
Flora & Fauna
During night outings on this trail, you may encounter a wild bear or two!