Route: Yosemite Valley Circumnavigation (CA)

California, US
64.5 mi
Vertical Gain
15,750 ft

Eric Lee established this 100+ km route:

A full circumnavigation of the Yosemite Valley rim on foot. Starting from Bridal Veil parking lot the route climbs to the valley rim trails, follows the trail system over Clouds Rest all the way to Tenaya Lake, before returning along the North rim over El Capitan and down the Old Big Oak Flat Rd back to the valley floor and the starting point.

More details in Eric's TR:


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Profile picture for user Zak Steigmeyer

This is a fantastic route and should be as popular as rim to rim to rim.  But I've heard that the last few winters (and the rim fire) have been very hard on the Old Big Oak Flat road trail at the end of the route. 

When I ran it with a friend on June 29 2019 we elected to descend the Yosemite falls trail and skip going to the top of El Capitan.  When we did it there was a lot of snow from clouds rest to Olmstead point, and many downed trees from Olmstead to Yosemite falls.  Our route was 60 miles long and took us 19 hours with many breaks to take in the view.  Highly recommended!

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Profile picture for user AllisonHPowell

Unsafe conditions! 

Just attempted this route, going CW as Eric suggested in his report. However, I had to bail 4 miles in on Old Big Oak Flat Road. Zak is correct in stating that the rim fire has basically made the rock slides worse, unsafe, impassable, and 6 years after Eric said the Manzanita is nearly blocking the path--it's fully blocked! 

For sure worth creating a new route going around the valley, (maybe using Zak's route?) but until there is maintenance on Old Big Oak Flat I recommend other runners not attempt the loop. Or at least go in with lots of safety precautions and a full understanding of what you are getting in to. Stay safe! 

Thank you Allison for your post! I had been planning to do this route for a long time and would've been very sad to have to turn around at mile 4.

Two of us attempted this route with a slight modification this last weekend (6/12). We started at the Big Oak Flat trailhead off Big Oak Flat road (the turnout is right near Floresta road). This avoids the unsafe portion of the Old Bid Oak Flat trail. It shaves off a few miles and elevation gain, but still maintains the spirit of the original loop. I'm happy to share the Calopo/GPX tracks. 

A note: the trail between the Big Oak Flat footbridge and Yosemite Falls is not very well maintained. Most of the flat/runable areas are covered in downed trees and brush/fallen tree limbs, which combined with the elevation gain (we went clockwise), made this section very, very slow going. We started in the evening to avoid the heat of the day at Cloud's Rest, but this meant we were navigating the rough trail in the dark. Thankfully, there are reflective markers along most of the North Rim trails. 

We dropped at Nevada Falls and hiked out via the Mist Trail -- making for a 46 mile and very slow day. 

This is a beautiful route but would be significantly more enjoyable as a two day fastpack or longer backpacking trip.