Yosemite is a world-renowned rock-climbing destination. In recent years, as many as 150,000 climbers from around the globe have made their way to the park to test their skills on famed granite features, such as El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks.

Historically, Yosemite climbers accessed popular routes using a network of unofficial paths created in the absence of established, maintained trails. Increased use has severely eroded these informal trails, resulting in dangerously loose footing and unintentional damage to surrounding vegetation.

This proven project brings together climbing organizations, youth groups and park partners to create clearly delineated climber-access trails, while restoring and protecting the surrounding habitat. In 2016, work focused on constructing access trails at Middle Cathedral Rock and other popular routes in the Valley, such as Cathedral Boulders and Washington Column, and at the bouldering areas in Tuolumne Meadows.

With help from more than 260 volunteers representing a variety of organizations and companies, including The North Face, REI, Mazamas, Access Fund and the UC Merced Yosemite Leadership Program, park crews worked on more than 5 miles (26,630 feet) of access trails, constructed 112 stone steps, and eliminated 3,430 feet of user-generated paths. Throughout the season, Climber Steward interns helped oversee volunteer work groups on the trails, while celebrating and encouraging the climbing community’s role in park stewardship.

Your support helped create safe, environmentally sound trails that provide access to Yosemite’s world-class climbing routes. Thank you for supporting your park!

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and Sacred Rok.

Kristin Kirschner

Wilderness Patrol Supervisor

Project Notes

Historically, Yosemite did not establish official climber-access trails, so climbers established their own trails. After decades of intensive use, this informal network of trails has become severely eroded. Access areas are denuded with multiple overlapping trails, loose footing, and damaged vegetation. The project prioritizes areas in need of restoration and uses park volunteers to create a sustainable system of climber access routes.