Well earned solitude and some of the best views of Yosemite's rock features are the rewards for reaching Eagle Peak. You also get the added bonus of visiting two unforgettable world-class waterfalls along the way. This supreme vantage point makes all the hubbub of Yosemite Valley look like a distant ant colony.
Doing this route in its entirety is a very steep, strenuous undertaking most suitable for backpackers with appropriate permits or extremely fit, fast hikers. To begin this trip, start from near Camp 4 at the Yosemite Falls
trailhead. Follow signs for the Yosemite Falls
Trail and immediately begin to climb switchback after never-ending switchback. You'll begin through shady oak woodland, eventually ascending above the trees and onto exposed plateaus that offer you a glimpse of what's to come: great views of Yosemite Valley and its many iconic landforms. Do not stray off of the maintained path, as you'll find steep drops adjacent to the trail.
If you make the one-mile, 1,000-foot climb (via dozens of switchbacks) to Columbia Rock overlook, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock. From there, hike another 0.5 miles (0.8 km) some of which is actually downhill- to get a stunning view of Upper Yosemite Falls
. Depending on the season, you may even feel the mist from the fall, which may be a welcome respite after the tough climb. The upper half of the trail is steep and rocky, but the arduous journey is well worth the amazing views you'll be rewarded with at the top. Here you may be surprised by the small size of Yosemite Creek, which feeds this massive waterfall. Use extreme caution when near the creek and remember you are directly above a waterfall.
At the valley rim you'll see a trail intersection near Yosemite Creek. To continue on to Eagle Peak, stay left at the fork and head north/northwest, ignoring the trail heading east (the Upper Yosemite Falls to North Dome
Trail). Continue through a wooded ravine until reaching another trail junction about 1/2 mile away. Turn left onto the El Capitan to Upper Yosemite Falls
heading uphill to the west. Find relief in the forested, flatter terrain here. This boulder-strewn area is a terminal moraine from a glacier. The trail turns south and enters the marshy Eagle Peak Meadows for a welcome change of scenery. Begin another ascent and arrive at a final trail junction. Here, you'll stay straight to ascend the Eagle Peak Trail
and you'll leave the El Capitan to Upper Yosemite Falls
to descend to the south west.
Eagle Peak Trail
runs uphill along the skinny wooded ridge to a brushy viewpoint. Scramble around at the top to find the perfect boulder from which to absorb the enormous beauty all around you. This is a sweeping panorama from a unique perspective that few people ever get to see. Take in all the Yosemite favorites- North Dome, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Vogelsang Peak, Mount Hoffmann and Mount Florence.
Lodgepole pine, red fir, manzanita, live oak, ponderosa pine.