Adventure in Yosemite: 20 Mile El Capitan Hiking Loop via the abandoned Old Big Oak Road

October 16, 2019 - I put together a 20 mile loop that ascends the Yosemite Falls trail, then continues up to the summit of El Capitan.  From there the trail continues West and joins the Old Big Oak Road, long ago decommissioned.

The Old Big Oak Road is a fun adventure to descend.  It has a fair amount of dead-fall trees, washed out sections, and sections overgrown with bramble and trees.  The "road" disappears entirely into a massive landslide region of boulders.

This is a great hike for those wanting to have a solitude experience.  I only encountered three people.   All three showed up at the summit after I arrived, but I had the summit to myself for about 20 minutes. Once I started to descend from the El Cap summit I did not encounter anybody.  And since I hit the valley after dusk, I also did not see anybody on the trails in the valley.

This was a 20 mile hike with over 5200 feet of elevation gain.  I started at about 6:30 in the morning, arrived at the summit at 11:30am.  After exploring the summit area for 90 minutes I began to descend around 1pm.

The difficulty of the Old Big Oak abandoned road added about three hours to my expected completion.  It took a lot of extra time to navigate around the obstacles.  However, this was the adventure and the solitude experience I was hoping for, and I also encountered a bear on the descent.

I highly recommend this route if you like the views from El Capitan and an adventurous off-trail experience.


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