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Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?

Wilmington, Ohio
4 posts
2 reviews
1 helpful vote
Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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My sister and I are training to hike the El Capitan Trail this summer. I was wondering if trail runners would be appropriate or if I should stick with hiking shoes. I have a pair of Salomon Outline GTX hiking shoes but I don’t think they have enough cushion for such a long hike. Alternatively, my Brooks running shoes are very comfortable and I can put in a lot of miles on them without my feet hurting. I see that Brooks has a couple pairs of trail runners with great reviews for long day hikes. I was thinking about getting them since I love my Brooks so much. I was wondering if they would be appropriate for the terrain, though. Anyone care to give their opinion? Has anyone done the El Capitan trail in trail runners?

15 replies to this topic
Seattle
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
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12,190 posts
74 reviews
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1. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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El Capitan from the valley? Or from the Tioga Road?

Wilmington, Ohio
4 posts
2 reviews
1 helpful vote
2. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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Our current plan is from the valley, via the upper falls

Atlanta area
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20 reviews
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3. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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I backpack in Yosemite exclusively in trail runners. Better if they are NOT waterproof, because if they are waterproof and get wet inside (sweat, water running over the top of down your leg) then they are difficult to dry out.

EDIT: are you planning to backpack, meaning camp overnight? Going up the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail then over the north rim to El Cap and then reverse it all back to the Valley in one day is a tall order.

And, what time of year? There are areas along the north rim that in late Spring and early Summer that can be flooded and swampy.

Edited: April 17, 2021, 8:15 am
Atlanta area
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4. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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I see you said "this summer." When specifically?

Santa Clara...
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28,295 posts
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5. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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How grippy are the soles of the Brooks? Many of the trails in Yosemite have pebbly dusty covering and slippery granite. I would slip everywhere with runny shoes soles. That happened with my daughter last summer so I actually bought her Merrell hiking shoes and it made a huge difference. She's 3yo. I wear low top waterproof hiking shoes (currently Keens Targhee) all over the state year round to hike and tidepooling and haven't had any issues with sweat.

Santa Clara...
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28,295 posts
24 reviews
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6. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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Oh I see trail runners now so hopefully better soles than regular running shoes. Also assume you know that you need to break in any new shoes before doing this long hike.

Edited: April 17, 2021, 9:02 am
Wilmington, Ohio
4 posts
2 reviews
1 helpful vote
7. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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We are planning to go in the beginning of June provided we can get day passes reserved. We will be doing it as a day hike, starting just before dawn. It will indeed be a tall order! I have been putting in a lot of hours and miles getting ready for it.

Is the Tioga Rd trail any easier? I was under the impression they were about the same in distance and intensity.

Atlanta area
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1,228 posts
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8. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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Trail runners have grippy soles -- some better than others, just like with boots, but many have essentially the same Vibram soles as lightweight boots. You want to make sure they fit well and you've worn them both in the morning and at the end of the day (when your feet can swell and/or flatten), but they usually don't need to be "broken in" like boots.

A dayhike out and back to El Cap is tough either way. Roundtrip, the Upper Yosemite Fall route involves 13.5 miles and 6,000 ft of elevation gain and loss, and that's without very worthwhile detours like to the actual top of Yosemite Fall, Yosemite Point, and Eagle Peak. Even without the detours, this option has more views throughout. The trail from Tamarack Flat campground is longer (16.5 miles) but less up and down (4,000 ft).

It's a dry year but still early June you could run into swampy areas. Also not sure what creek crossing conditions will be like for either trail in early June. If you could possibly come later into the summer trail conditions probably will be better.

Seattle
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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9. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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That slippery dusty covering on the rocks mentioned by Chindits is one of the reasons I do not care much for the Yosemite Falls trail.

I have done the hike to the top of El Cap from the Tioga Road (or more specifically from the Tamarack Flat Campground). But that was 50 years ago and do not recall much about it, apart from the scary feeling of being on a sloping dome and not knowing how close I could approach to the “edge”. It is not flat up there! The trail does start at a higher point so there is much less elevation gain than if you hike from the Valley. but I don’t know that there will be access to the trailhead in June.

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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188 reviews
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10. Re: Trail runners for El Capitan Trail?
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Since the Tamarack Campground will not be opening this year, it's possible that the road to the campground will be closed.

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