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Trail Running in Yosemite National Park

Where to go trail running in Yosemite National Park

Like most National Parks, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to excellent, well-maintained and well-signposted hiking trails which you can run on.

The key to working out where to go trail running in Yosemite is to decide:

  • How long you want to run for
  • Where you want to run (if you have specific areas or views you want to incorporate into your run)
  • How much ascending you want to do
  • Whether you want to finish your run where you started, or run one-way

For many visitors to Yosemite with limited time on your hands, my recommendation is that you plan an out-and-back route for running, which has the following advantages:

  • You know exactly how far you will go because you have the same return distance as the outbound distance
  • It is easier to plan your time efficiently, for example if you have two hours to do your run in, then if you turn around after an hour, and assuming you’re not a lot slower on the way back, then you should be back in time
  • You’ll be familiar with landmarks and terrain on the way back – while signposting is good, you don’t want to get lost somewhere as wild and huge as a National Park
  • If you’re with other non-runners, such as other family members they can hike the same trail and you can meet them on your way back.

Best trail for running in Yosemite

The best trail for your run in Yosemite really depends on your ability, time and what part of the part you want to explore. You can have a fantastic run simply by running a lap around the Yosemite Valley area, starting and finishing at a bus stop or the visitor’s center.

For our last run in Yosemite, we really wanted to get high up to somewhere quieter than the valley floor where we could see some epic views. To watch a short film made during that run, see the video below, which gives you an idea of the terrain, views and FUN that you can experience. NOTE THOUGH – if you are not experienced in trail running then this route may be a more suitable hike than trail run, because of the sheer drop-offs to the side of the trail and uneven ground in places. This is somewhere you don’t want to trip over and risk falling off the edge!

Running short film: trail running in Yosemite National Park

Join us as we go running in Yosemite National Park, what a perfect way to spend a morning! In this run we took the 4-mile loop trail up to Union Point.

Our video was filmed on Earth Day, which falls in late April each year. We ran up as far as Union Point to gain an incredible view of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley, including waterfalls and El Capitan on the way back down.

Best time to go trail running in Yosemite National Park

Before I first visited Yosemite or even California I hadn’t fully appreciated that Yosemite is a mountainous area which is covered with snow throughout winter and into Spring. As such, the best time to visit Yosemite for trail running is late Spring onwards, once most of the snow has thawed.

Many mountain trails do not open until late Spring/early Summer, so if you have plans to explore much further than the main valley floor (where most visitors spend most of their time) then plan ahead – visit the official Yosemite National Park website for more information. For the run featured in the video above, we ran up to Union Point and did not run any further up to Glacier Point because the trail was still closed due to being partially covered in snow.

Thanks for watching! If you enjoyed watching our short running in Yosemite film, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more trail running films, advice and reviews!

RELATED: Beginner’s Guide To Trail Running: Keeping It Fun & Simple

Our short running film in Yosemite was filmed using:

Yosemite Strava Activity in case you would like to run/hike the same route:

Don’t forget to join our Strava Run Club whilst you’re there 🙂

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As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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