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

Ian MacNairn


Half Dome Cables section

by Earth Trekkers

Mist Trail steps

by Earth Trekkers

Four Mile Trail https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/533676624576618141/?lp=true

by unknown

Four Mile Trail

by Sheety33

Yosemite Valley

by unknown

Sentinel Dome

by CaliforniaThroughMyLens

Clouds Rest Trail

by Addison Klinke


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.


Half Dome

A long day out to the summit of one of the most iconic mountains in the world.

Yosemite Falls

Out-and-back route to reach Yosemite Falls (the lower, middle, and upper falls).

Sentinel Dome

An out-and-back from Glacier Point Road to the summit of Sentinel Dome.

Clouds Rest

A great full-day trail-run along a premier route high above the Yosemite Valley.