El Capitan & Salt Basin Overlook Trails

El Capitan & Salt Basin Overlook Trails

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 31.89660°N / 104.8282°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Difficulty: Hike
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview

El Capitan is a 9.5 mile long trail that skirts the southern slopes at the base of the cliff known as El Capitan connecting Pine Springs Campground to William Ranch four wheel drive road. Salt Basin Overlook Trail branches off of and returns to El Capitan Trail taking you to places with good views of Salt Basin and Routes 180/62. I will describe here an 11.5 mile long lollipop loop hike on part of El Capitan and all of Salt Basin Overlook Trail.

Getting There

Starting point is at Pine Springs Campsite at the end of park’s main road off of Routes 180/62.

Blue line shows the path described here. Click on Open inCaltopo and then click on blue line to see profile and terrain statistics.

Route Description

The trail is well established and well signed. Its start is common with Guadalupe Peak and Tejas Trails. After e few hundred feet, El Capitan Trail branches to the left.

Near Trailhead
Near Trailhead
Hunter Peak
Hunter Peak

The trail heads south toward Routes 180/62. Unfortunately, highway noise may be audible on much of this hike. As the trail veers southwest, El Capitan will come to view.

El Capitan
El Capitan

Hunter Peak and nearby hills.

On the trail
On the trail
Hunter Peak
Hunter Peak
On the trail
On the trail

Close view of El Capitan.

El Capitan
El Capitan

The trail gets into a canyon and goes downhill.

Looking down the canyon
Looking down the canyon
El Capitan from the canyon
El Capitan from the canyon
In the canyon
In the canyon

You will then reach the junction with Salt Basin Overlook Trail. This description goes down Salt Basin Trail and returns to the same spot 4.5 mile later. The Salt basin Trail continues down the canyon which turns into a wide wash, makes a 180 degree turn and goes back up the slopes.

El Capitan
El Capitan

The trail reaches this hill which rises 700 ft above Route 180/62. It makes a loop around the hill.

Hill above the highway
Hill above the highway

View of the highway.

Route 180/62
Route 180/62

Beyond the hill, the trail goes uphill to reach a short spur trail that takes you to Salt Basin Overlook. Views from the Overlook.

From Salt basin Overlook
From Salt basin Overlook
From Salt Basin Overlook
From Salt Basin Overlook

Back to the main trail, you will go up the slopes steeply, View of the Salt basin Overlook.

Salt Basin Overlook Plateau
Salt Basin Overlook Plateau

Salt basin Overlook Trail ends at the junction with El Capitan Trail 0.9 miles to the west of where it started. View of El Capitan from the junction.

El Capitan
El Capitan

You can then head east on El Capitan Trail toward where Salt Basin Overlook Trail started. Another view of El Capitan.

El Capitan
El Capitan

After the junction, you can retrace your way back to trailhead.

Deer
Deer

When to Hike

Summer can get dangerously hot. 




Parents 

Parents

Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.