Trail Run Project Logo

dblack Half Dome Trail

Trail

2.1 mile 3.4 kilometer point to point
64% Runnable
Extremely Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 1,798' 548 m
Descent: -33' -10 m
High: 8,784' 2,677 m
Low: 7,019' 2,139 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 16% (9°)
Max Grade: 49% (26°)

Dogs

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

Trail shared by Brian Smith

One of the most Iconic "trails" in the world.

Brian Smith

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

A permit is required to run 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.

Runner Notes

Although this trail is technically "runnable," you'd be hard pressed to keep good pace on this trail due to a host of factors.
  • This is an ICONIC trail. You'll be "running" with hundreds of your closest friends on the way to Half Dome.
  • The grade during the final approach to Half Dome is incredibly steep and a fall could be deadly

Description

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 runners 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:
  • 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
Do not attempt the ascent if:
  • 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!

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In

Check-Ins

none

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 13 votes

#168

Overall
  4.8 from 13 votes
5 Star
85%
4 Star
15%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#20

in California

#168

Overall
57 Views Last Month
2,410 Since May 21, 2015
Extremely Difficult Extremely Difficult

0%
0%
0%
0%
31%
69%

0 Comments

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

Shop REI Running