Added by Clayton Herrmann
Epic views of: Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, with sunrises and moonrises with nothing but solitude. Amazing photographing opportunities on your way to Yosemite's Eagle Peak.
A Yosemite Valley trip in May has tourist filled buses, noisy car alarms, and crowded trails written all over it. Thus, I wanted to avoid the beaten path. Looking into possible destinations, John Muir once said in regards to Eagle Peak, "where the most comprehensive of all the views to be had on the north-wall heights are displayed." With a statement like this from John Muir, it is not to be missed.
Hidden in the shadows of El Capitan lies the rarely used and all but forgotten Rockslides Trail. This trail is not to be taken lightly. Rockfalls and losing the trail are legitimate possibilities. Solid route finding skills are a must. Technically speaking, it's not much of a trail to begin with. It's a cross county route that meanders through an extremely large talus field formed by numerous rockslides.
From V7 Road Side Marker to Eagle Peak: 11.42 Miles, 5568ft. Elv. Gain
The beginning is easy enough: park the car at turnout V7, grab the pack, and pass by the locked gate. Proceed to follow the remains of the old road that once served as the gateway into the Valley. Soon there after, you will hit the first of many rockslides. Be sure to slow your pace to ensure you or a party member doesn't dislodge a boulder and send it careening down the mountainside crushing anyone below.
There will be a point where the rockslides completely take over the trail and it seems that the old road ends. It does. You must now look up the boulder ridden valley wall and spot what looks to be a manmade wall of stacked rocks. If your eyesight is keen enough, a segment of railing can be spotted. Scramble your way up to this wall. Once there, proceed left until you rejoin with the remnants of the old road.
Continue making your way into heavily wooded forest until reaching the trail sign junction for El Capitan and Eagle Peak. You are now on the North Rim Trail. If you did not allow for enough time to reach Eagle Peak or the crest of El Capitan for that matter, a short while after passing the sign mentioned above, you will have a clear view of the western horizon. Ample campsites and pre-existing campfire rings can be found here.
There is one more major steep ascent of hiking after reaching camp. This is to the crest of El Capitan. Once atop El Cap, you are now standing atop the crux of the trail. The majority of the uphill battle is over. Tall Pines and alpine meadows will soon surround you. Enjoy the downhill hiking along the trail until you reach the sign for Eagle Peak. At this point .6 miles is left. This involves more uphill hiking.
There will be another sign before the summit. In just .3 miles, the entirety of the valley will lay before you. Half Dome and the rest of the Sierras will be in full view.
The view from Eagle Peak will never stagnate. Billowing white clouds will turninto a vibrant orange sunset. And if you're lucky, a full moon will rise behind Half Dome eliciting howls throughout the valley. In the morning be sure to catch the sun rising behind Half Dome as shadows recede behind the granite giants.
Eagle Peak to Valley Floor Via Yosemite Falls Trail: 5.28 miles, 4,711ft. Elv. loss
Finish the adventure by hiking down to Yosemite Falls, continuing down to the Valley Floor. Be sure to note that the shuttle does not run as far as the V7 marker. Either run shuttle beforehand or hitch a ride back to your car.
Alternative routes include starting the adventure from Tamarack Flats Campground, completely avoiding the rockslides all together. This is a safer alternative.
- Backcountry Permit (Required)
- Water Filter
- Food For 1-2 Nights
- Great Route Finding Skills
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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
ReviewsLeave a Review
Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!
More Adventures Nearby
Backpack to Big Bird Lake & Moose Lake
Yosemite / Alta Peak Trailhead
This trip requires a wilderness permit. You can get one at the Lodgepole Visitor Center where you can also rent a bear canister or use the bathroom before heading out.
Backpack to Vogelsang and Merced Lake High Sierra Camps
Yosemite / Lyell Canyon Trailhead
If you love the idea of backpacking to remote mountain destinations, but shudder at the thought of carrying a heavy pack and digging a hole to poop in, the High Sierra Camps are a great option.