Hiking Project Logo

El Capitan Trail

Intermediate

Trail

9.4 mile 15.1 kilometer point to point
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 2,150' 655 m
Descent: -1,243' -379 m
High: 6,464' 1,970 m
Low: 4,983' 1,519 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)

Dogs

No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Seth Lawder

This trail will take you through the Chihuahuan desert and along the base of El Capitan.

Seth Lawder

Features Cave · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

No closures, open all year round.

Description

From the Williams Ranch parking area, this trail is 9.4 miles one way to its junction with Guadalupe Peak Trail so allow for an entire day to complete a round-trip hike. Connecting off this trail to the south is the Salt Basin Overlook Trail. This trail forms a loop with the El Capitan Trail; the first junction is about five miles along the El Capitan Trail and the second is almost six miles in. The Salt Basin Overlook Trail can be completed as a loop or a simple and short out and back which offers amazing views. It also makes for a nice alternative return trail to add on a few extra miles.

The El Capital Trail is rarely traveled, is overgrown, and can be hard to follow. The weather in the park is extremely unpredictable and hikers should plan accordingly. The first three miles of the trail climbs a moderately steep hill to the ridge. After the first junction with the Salt Basin Overlook Trail, the El Capitan Trail dips in and out of a couple small valleys to the end of the trail at the junction with Guadalupe Peak Trail.

There is nearly no shade along this trail, so sunscreen and hats to protect your skin are recommended. Although most hikers turn around at the base of El Capitan, you can take the trail all the way to Williams Ranch.

Flora & Fauna

Cacti and a variety of desert flowers.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know

Contacts

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In

Check-Ins

Oct 5, 2018
Mark Clements
Oct 4, 2018
Mark Clements
Apr 15, 2018
Tim Medina
Start from Piney Trail camp area 5.2mi
Dec 21, 2016
Jake Collins
1mi
Apr 23, 2016
Alyssa Schnaus
8mi — 4h 45m
Feb 25, 2016
Dave Berg

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 2 votes

#19033

Overall
  3.0 from 2 votes
5 Star
0%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
50%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#509

in Texas

#19,033

Overall
25 Views Last Month
1,153 Since Sep 30, 2015
Intermediate

0%
0%
67%
33%
0%
0%

0 Comments

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking