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Yosemite National Park Yosemite Valley Hiking

Lower Yosemite Fall

Difficulty: Easy 20 minutes

Rountrip: 0.5 mi / 0.8 km With assistance

Start: Lower Yosemite Fall shuttle bus stop (across the street from Yosemite Lodge and 0.5 mi / 0.8 km from Yosemite Village).

This short walk up a paved trail to the bottom of Lower Yosemite Fall provides great views of all of Yosemite Falls, plus a close-up view of the lower fall. (Note: this waterfall is often dry from August through October.)

Bridalveil Fall

Difficulty: Easy 20 minutes

Rountrip: 0.5 mi / 0.8 km With assistance

Start: Bridalveil Fall parking area, at the beginning of the Wawona Road (Highway 41) in Yosemite Valley.

This short walk to the bottom of Bridalveil Fall provides a great view of the fall.

Mirror Lake/Meadow

Difficulty: Easy 1 hour

Rountrip: 2 mi / 3.2 km With assistance Easy 2 hours

Rountrip: 5 mi / 8 km loop No

Start: Mirror Lake trailhead shuttle bus stop (just east of the Valley Stables, about 0.5 mi / 0.8 km from Curry Village).

The walk to Mirror Lake/Meadow is a leisurely walk either along an old, paved road or along a slightly longer dirt trail. The lake is really a large pond in spring and a meadow the rest of the year. Despite this, you're still right at the bottom of Half Dome, and you have a great view of it from Mirror Lake/Meadow.

You can also hike all the way around the lake.

Valley Floor Loop

Difficulty: Moderate 2 to 4 hours

Rountrip: 6.5 mi / 10.5 km No Moderate 5 to 7 hours

Rountrip: 13 mi / 21 km No

Start: Lower Yosemite Fall shuttle bus stop, behind the bathroom.

Walking along the valley floor is a great way to see Yosemite Valley in slow motion (compared to driving around it). While this trail remains close to the road for parts of the hike, you will not see very many hikers on the trail.

To take the short version of this hike, be sure to cross the bridge just east of El Capitan Meadow (the large meadow at the base of El Capitan).

This trail is very difficult to follow if there is snow on the ground (approximately December through March).

Vernal Fall (Mist Trail)

Difficulty: Moderate 1.5 hours to bridge

Rountrip: 1.6 mi / 2.6 km No Strenuous 3 hours to the top

Rountrip: 3 mi / 4.8 km No

Start: Happy Isles shuttle bus stop (about a half mile south of Curry Village).

This hike is nearly all uphill, but once you get to the Vernal Fall footbridge, you get a view of 317 foot (97 m) high Vernal Fall. The further you go on this trail the better the views become.

If you continue past the footbridge, you can go all the way to the top of this waterfall. The trail becomes so steep that it takes a staircase of 600 granite steps to get to the top. In spring and early summer, expect to get wet.

This trail is closed from the junction with the John Muir Trail (just beyond the Vernal Fall footbridge) from November through April due to falling ice and rock. An alternate route (via the John Muir Trail) is available.

Nevada Fall (Mist Trail)

Difficulty: Strenuous 5 to 6 hours

Rountrip: 7 mi / 11.2 km No

Start: Same as for Vernal Fall.

If you continue past the top of Vernal Fall, you'll get to see Nevada Fall from near its base and, if you continue up even more granite steps, you reach the top of Nevada Fall.

Panorama Trail

Difficulty: Strenuous 6 hours

Rountrip: 8.5 mi / 13.7 km No

Start: Glacier Point.

The Panorama Trail is full of panoramic views and includes close-up views of three waterfalls (including lesser known Illilouette Fall). The trail continues down the Mist Trail and ends at Happy Isles.

From late May or early June through October, a fee-based hikers bus will take you up to Glacier Point. Alternatively, if you are interseted in a long day hike, take the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point.

Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point

Difficulty: Strenuous 6 to 8 hours

Rountrip: 9.6 mi / 15.5 km No

Start: Four Mile Trailhead just west of Swinging Bridge picnic area.

This trail takes you up switchbacks to the Glacier Point, along the rim of Yosemite Valley. The trail offers spectacular views up and down Yosemite Valley (not to mention what you get to see when you get to Glacier Point).

If you are interested in a long day hike, return to Yosemite Valley via the Panorama Trail.

The Four Mile Trail is closed from approximately December through sometime in May due to hazardous conditions.

Upper Yosemite Fall

Difficulty: Strenuous 2 to 4 hours

Rountrip: 2 mi / 3.2 km No Strenuous 6 to 8 hours to the top

Rountrip: 7.2 mi / 11.6 km No

Start: Camp 4 (near the Camp 4 shuttle bus stop).

This switchbacking trail takes you to the top of 2,425 foot (739 meter) high Yosemite Falls. The trail provides great views of Half Dome and eastern Yosemite Valley.

If you do not have the time (or energy) to make it to the top, you can hike about one mile to railed-in Columbia Rock, which itself has great views. If you continue about a half-mile beyond Columbia Rock, along a relatively easy section of the trail, you can get spectacular views of Upper Yosemite Fall.

Half Dome

Difficulty: Strenuous 10 to 12 hours

Rountrip: 17 mi / 27.4 km No

Start: Happy Isles shuttle bus stop (about a half mile south of Curry Village).

Many visitors consider this hike to be the ultimate Yosemite hike. The cables that assist hikers up the last 900 ft (274 m) along the side of Half Dome are only up from late May through early October: ascending Half Dome when the cables are not erected is dangerous and strongly discouraged. Do not ascend to the top of Half Dome if thunderclouds are visible anywhere in the sky. Visit the Conditions Update page for the latest information about the Half Dome Cables.

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