“Hike along the top of El Capitan to the summit for great views of Yosemite beyond the valley.”
— David Hitchcock
Can be snowy in the winter, but is accessible year round if you are equipped for the conditions.
Water can be hard to come by in the summer as Ribbon Creek dries up, so make sure you have enough water for your hike.
This trail isn't hard, it's the trip to get there that is the hard part. There are several options for you depending on your approach. From Tamarack Flat, its 17 miles round trip to the summit. From the Big Oak Flat Road, it's 9.7 miles to the trailhead and 5.6 miles from the top of Upper Yosemite Falls
Trail (9.2 miles from the Valley Floor via Upper Yosemite Falls
Trail). Another option, pick a climbing route and enjoy the climb up this granite monolith.
The trail descends gently from the North Rim Trail
to to the top of El Capitan
. Stunning views of the valley and the regions beyond stretch out before you as you approach the summit. North Dome
, Basket Dome, Clouds Rest
, Quarter Domes, Half Dome
, Sentinel Dome
, Sentinel Rock, Mt. Starr King, Mt. Clark, and additional peaks beyond stretch before you. The summit provides a great place to take in the view and enjoy the beauty of Yosemite.
Note: While the summit area is safe, don't go too close to the edge as it can be unsafe. The area is known for small, loose rocks that can cause a hiker to slip and slide toward the edge, where it's a long drop to the valley floor. You can enjoy the view from the safety of the summit area, and possibly greet climbers as they finish their ascent of this magnificent rock formation.