This is a Short, fulfilling trip for novice and experienced backpackers alike with Front row seats to watch rock climbers scale the face of El Capitan. You can Experience El Capitan's "Dawn Wall" during sunrise and Relax, take photos, etc on incredible cliffs.

Before you start, be sure to visit the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and grab an overnight permit. More info on this at nps.gov.

This trail meanders through beautiful, dense meadows full of wildlife - watch for bears! When you're not hiking among the wildflowers and babbling brooks, you're encompassed in red fir forests and small aspen groves. Note that there are only a couple intermittent creeks to filter water (just bring your own to be safe). Be on the lookout for the old cabin John McGurk used in the 1890's when he was raising cattle near the meadow proper. About 2 miles into your hike, the trail will merge with the Pohono Trail- keep left for Dewey. When you reach Dewey Point, you'll see plenty of areas to set up a tent or two. Make sure to camp at least 100" from any cliff edge! You'll be at eye level with the face of El Capitan (watch for climbers at night!) and at the mercy of Yosemite Valley beneath you.

A few notes to keep in mind:

  • Bear country - BE CAREFUL WITH STORING FOOD!
  • Dogs are not allowed on trails in Yosemite National Park
  • Use only existing fire rings (check fire regulations and get a campfire permit before your trip)
  • Max group size is 15, and you must carry out all trash!

Getting there: To get to the trailhead, follow Glacier Point Road eastbound for about 7.5 miles until you see a small sign on the left (north) side of the road marking the start of the McGurk Meadow Trailhead (37.670479, -119.628012). There's no designated parking area, but there's a turnoff on the north shoulder just east of the trailhead which can fit about 10 cars.

You can also start this adventure from Tunnel View.

Pack List

  • Wilderness Permit
  • Water - there are no fully reliable water sources on this hike
  • Bear can - REQUIRED
  • First Aid Kit - always
  • Tent
  • Backpack
  • Sleeping bag/pad
  • Headlamp
  • Warm clothes - it gets windy up there!
  • Food for 2+ days
  • Camera (optional)
  • Rain gear (optional)
  • Bug repellant (seasonal)
  • Binoculars - in case you want a closer look at the climbers on El Cap
Show More
RT Distance 8 Miles
Elevation Gain 300 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Chloe

We hiked the Pohono Trail from Taft Point to Dewey Point in mid-July. The weather was perfect and it wasn't too strenuous. Views can't be beat! As always with Yosemite make sure to get your permits right when they go on sale.

You've got to see the south rim

Hiked the Pohono Trail beginning at Tunnel View, so our first night on the trail was at Dewey Point. It was absolutely stunning. No people there—despite the bustling crowds of Yosemite Valley—just the trees and the wind and the orange sunset sky. You've got to experience it.

Amazing Trip!

I took my friend backpacking on this as her first backpacking trip, and my first time leading a trip. It was absolutely amazing! In fact, I think it set the bar too high for her future backpacking expectations ;) I HIGHLY recommend this trip!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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