“This trail will take you through the Chihuahuan desert and along the base of El Capitan.”
— Seth Lawder
Cave · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers
No closures, open all year round.
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 run. 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 runners 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 runners 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.