FATMAP by Strava
Vernal Falls with Half Dome in background

6 Classic Trail Runs in the Yosemite Valley

Six tough routes in Yosemite Valley that showcase the valley’s waterfalls, monoliths, and jaw-dropping beauty

Trail Running Moderate, Difficult, Severe

Vernal Falls with Half Dome in background
Vernal Falls with Half Dome in background Photo: Earth Trekkers


These six routes in the Yosemite Valley are classics. Full stop. Each of them is a difficult, challenging trail that climbs steeply up from the valley floor and traverses past the most iconic monoliths and waterfalls in the US. The routes offer strenuous climbing, many switchbacks, and equally breathtaking views across the valley to Half Dome, North Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, and Nevada Falls.

These trails are better known for hiking and are, subsequently, popular. That said, trail runners will relish in the great balance of singletrack, aesthetic, and brutal challenge of steep climbing followed by high-speed descent.

These routes vary in distance and duration and, as most of them are out-and-back, can be shortened if needed. That said, these six runs provide variety for a short rip out on the trails up to a full-day adventure. For those seeking a long day, Clouds Rest Trail may be one of the greatest trails to run in Yosemite National Park. In addition to providing long-distance and lots of climbing, the Clouds Rest Trail offers a special opportunity to peer down into the sacred Tenaya Canyon. One other piece of information to keep in mind is that the Half Dome route requires a permit. Therefore, runners should plan ahead if hoping to run on Half Dome. That said, if a permit is not acquired, both Clouds Rest Trail and Mist Trail offer alternates that climb up some of the same trails.

If you have a few days in the valley, running all of these routes would offer a well-rounded perspective of Yosemite Valley and its many natural gems.

Routes included

Related guidebooks