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Half Dome Trail

Very Difficult


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


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


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


No Dogs
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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, 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


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!


Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

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  4.9 from 15 votes


  4.9 from 15 votes
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in California


25 Views Last Month
2,792 Since May 21, 2015
Very Difficult



Halfdome in August
Jan 18, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
Almost to the top, just a little more!
Sep 30, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
July 5, 2018 On top of Half dome
Mar 22, 2020 near Yosemit…, CA
On the top of Half Dome
Oct 7, 2018 near Yosemit…, CA
Part of Sub-Dome's path
Sep 23, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA
Standing at the base of the Half Dome cables.
May 7, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA