Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park, California

Existing as one of the most iconic national parks in the USA, Yosemite is home to some of the best trails in the park system. Featuring stunning meadows, lakes, waterfalls and granite cliffs; many of the park's most beautiful landscapes are only accessible by lacing up one's hiking boots and hitting the trails. From hiking bucket list worthy Half Dome to scrambling up Clouds Rest Trail, the hikes here offer something for everyone and are one of the best ways to discover the area. Tip: Look for accommodation in Yosemite National Park on Booking and Airbnb. Keep in mind that Yosemite is also one of the more central national parks in California, and makes for an essential addition to any California National Park Road Trip Itinerary.  Ranging from easy to hard, and day hikes to backpacking, here are 10 of the best trails found in Yosemite National Park...   Top Hikes in Yosemite National Park 1. Vernal and Nevada Falls LEVEL: Hard DISTANCE: 8.8 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 2,191 Feet TYPE: Loop Beginning at Happy Trailhead near shuttle stop #16, hike by two gorgeous and famous falls located within Yosemite Valley. This hike starts off with a stroll along the river, followed by a steep incline until reaching the foot of the bridge. Hikers will pass by a closer look of Vernal Falls, then Emerald Pools and hike alongside Nevada Falls to the hike’s highest point. Head down the John Muir Trail in the summer for more views of Nevada Falls, as well as Liberty Cap, before reaching the original footbridge again. Portions of the JMT are closed in the winter, so head back down the same trail to the trailhead during this time of year.   2. Half Dome Trail LEVEL: Hard  DISTANCE: 14.8 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 5,164 Feet TYPE: Out and Back Undoubtedly the most popular hike in Yosemite Valley, visitors come from far and wide for the opportunity to summit Half Dome. This endurance hike can take anywhere between 10 to 12 hours, meaning hikers should be in the best shape before attempting. The cables usually go up starting towards the end of May and a permit is required for the trail during this time. Most start at sunrise and decide on a turn around time if summitting does not seem doable by sunset. The last 400 feet are the hardest once reaching Half Dome, but the hike down is a breeze. Hikers usually opt to take the Mist Trail back down, which is the original way up, though the John Muir Trail is also an option and provides a change of scenery. For Half Dome Permits visit the National Park Service website (recreation.gov) or call the Yosemite Park Ranger Station.   3. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail LEVEL: Hard DISTANCE: 7.2 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 3,175 Miles TYPE: Out and Back One of the most visited falls in the park, as well as the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls offers hikers an easier lower falls trail or the more challenging upper falls trail. Consisting of three sections, visiting Upper Yosemite Falls takes hikers about six to eight hours roundtrip. The trail is 3 miles one way starting at Camp 4 and once at the top, there’s a platform to admire the valley floor nearly 2,500 feet below. Although not as popular as the lower falls, this hike will prove to be quite satisfying once the summit is reached.   4. Lower Yosemite Falls Trail LEVEL: Easy DISTANCE: 1.0 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 52 Feet TYPE: Loop Just a quick stroll up to the falls, the Lower Yosemite Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park due to its short distance and accessibility. Kid friendly and wheelchair accessible for the first half of the loop, the trail is open year round, but can be icy in the winter — proceed with caution. Spring is the best time for viewing as the waterfall is often dry from late July through October.    5. Four Mile Trail LEVEL: Hard DISTANCE: 9.2 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 3,612 Feet TYPE: Out and Back Traveling 3,200 feet down to Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point, this trail features views of famous sites along the way including Half Dome, North Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, and full views of Yosemite Falls. The relentless switchbacks are not for the faint of heart - hikers can also choose to hike one direction as long as transportation is secured when reaching the end of the trail. Note that winter closures are generally in effect from November to late May or early June, so plan to hike both directions during this time of year.   6. Glacier Point Trail LEVEL: Easy DISTANCE: 0.6 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 236 Feet TYPE: Out and Back One of the park’s iconic destinations, visitors must park and walk a little over a half mile to the final destination. Once at Glacier Point, a picturesque 270-degree view of the valley, as well as Half Dome and three of Yosemite’s famous falls are on full display. Not much of a hike, but rather a stroll, this is a must see sight. In the winter, the road to Glacier Point is closed from November to late May or early June, but cross country skiing and snowshoeing are both welcome to access Glacier

Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park, California
Existing as one of the most iconic national parks in the USA, Yosemite is home to some of the best trails in the park system. Featuring stunning meadows, lakes, waterfalls and granite cliffs; many of the park's most beautiful landscapes are only accessible by lacing up one's hiking boots and hitting the trails. From hiking bucket list worthy Half Dome to scrambling up Clouds Rest Trail, the hikes here offer something for everyone and are one of the best ways to discover the area. Tip: Look for accommodation in Yosemite National Park on Booking and Airbnb. Keep in mind that Yosemite is also one of the more central national parks in California, and makes for an essential addition to any California National Park Road Trip Itinerary.  Ranging from easy to hard, and day hikes to backpacking, here are 10 of the best trails found in Yosemite National Park...   Top Hikes in Yosemite National Park 1. Vernal and Nevada Falls LEVEL: Hard DISTANCE: 8.8 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 2,191 Feet TYPE: Loop Beginning at Happy Trailhead near shuttle stop #16, hike by two gorgeous and famous falls located within Yosemite Valley. This hike starts off with a stroll along the river, followed by a steep incline until reaching the foot of the bridge. Hikers will pass by a closer look of Vernal Falls, then Emerald Pools and hike alongside Nevada Falls to the hike’s highest point. Head down the John Muir Trail in the summer for more views of Nevada Falls, as well as Liberty Cap, before reaching the original footbridge again. Portions of the JMT are closed in the winter, so head back down the same trail to the trailhead during this time of year.   2. Half Dome Trail LEVEL: Hard  DISTANCE: 14.8 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 5,164 Feet TYPE: Out and Back Undoubtedly the most popular hike in Yosemite Valley, visitors come from far and wide for the opportunity to summit Half Dome. This endurance hike can take anywhere between 10 to 12 hours, meaning hikers should be in the best shape before attempting. The cables usually go up starting towards the end of May and a permit is required for the trail during this time. Most start at sunrise and decide on a turn around time if summitting does not seem doable by sunset. The last 400 feet are the hardest once reaching Half Dome, but the hike down is a breeze. Hikers usually opt to take the Mist Trail back down, which is the original way up, though the John Muir Trail is also an option and provides a change of scenery. For Half Dome Permits visit the National Park Service website (recreation.gov) or call the Yosemite Park Ranger Station.   3. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail LEVEL: Hard DISTANCE: 7.2 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 3,175 Miles TYPE: Out and Back One of the most visited falls in the park, as well as the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls offers hikers an easier lower falls trail or the more challenging upper falls trail. Consisting of three sections, visiting Upper Yosemite Falls takes hikers about six to eight hours roundtrip. The trail is 3 miles one way starting at Camp 4 and once at the top, there’s a platform to admire the valley floor nearly 2,500 feet below. Although not as popular as the lower falls, this hike will prove to be quite satisfying once the summit is reached.   4. Lower Yosemite Falls Trail LEVEL: Easy DISTANCE: 1.0 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 52 Feet TYPE: Loop Just a quick stroll up to the falls, the Lower Yosemite Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park due to its short distance and accessibility. Kid friendly and wheelchair accessible for the first half of the loop, the trail is open year round, but can be icy in the winter — proceed with caution. Spring is the best time for viewing as the waterfall is often dry from late July through October.    5. Four Mile Trail LEVEL: Hard DISTANCE: 9.2 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 3,612 Feet TYPE: Out and Back Traveling 3,200 feet down to Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point, this trail features views of famous sites along the way including Half Dome, North Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, and full views of Yosemite Falls. The relentless switchbacks are not for the faint of heart - hikers can also choose to hike one direction as long as transportation is secured when reaching the end of the trail. Note that winter closures are generally in effect from November to late May or early June, so plan to hike both directions during this time of year.   6. Glacier Point Trail LEVEL: Easy DISTANCE: 0.6 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 236 Feet TYPE: Out and Back One of the park’s iconic destinations, visitors must park and walk a little over a half mile to the final destination. Once at Glacier Point, a picturesque 270-degree view of the valley, as well as Half Dome and three of Yosemite’s famous falls are on full display. Not much of a hike, but rather a stroll, this is a must see sight. In the winter, the road to Glacier Point is closed from November to late May or early June, but cross country skiing and snowshoeing are both welcome to access Glacier Point. Strap on a pair of either and opt to spend the night at Glacier Point Ski Hut where there are bunk beds and various amenities. A reservation is required for this accommodation.   7. Clouds Rest Trail LEVEL: Hard DISTANCE: 12.3 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 3,113 Feet TYPE: Out and Back A heavily trafficked trail found northeast of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, this is one of the best places to enjoy the view of the famous half mountain. This granite formation requires scrambling up a narrow edge with sheer drop-offs in order to arrive at the top, which is not for the faint of heart. Hikers will pass through flat trails, switchbacks, beautiful woods, a stunning lake and of course, the daring scrambling at the end. Once done, be sure to head back the same way to the trailhead.   8. Sentinel Dome Trail LEVEL: Easy DISTANCE: 2.1 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 456 Feet TYPE: Out and Back Home to beautiful wildflowers in the Spring, April through November is the best time to experience this trail and provides much worth for little work compared to many of the other trails in the park. Made famous by Ansel Adams in 1940, this trail is easy enough for most hikers. After crossing over a stream, the hike begins on a gradual slope until reaching the summit of the dome featuring 360 degree views of the valley below. Along the way, hikers will pass by views of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Nevada Falls, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, as well as endless views of the gorgeous high sierras.   9. Mirror Lake LEVEL: Easy DISTANCE: 5.6 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 334 Feet TYPE: Loop Perfect for nearly any skill level, this longer hike offers stunning views on an almost entirely flat trail. An easy loop around Yosemite, this trail makes it way around Mirror Lake, which is famous for its nearly crystal clear reflection of neighboring Half Dome. Surrounded by mounds of snow in the winter or colorful wildflowers in the summer, this trail is well marked and less crowded than others found in the area. Take the free park shuttle to the far east end of the valley for the trailhead, or park your car at the Ahwahnee Hotel.   10. Bridalveil Fall Trail LEVEL: Easy DISTANCE: 1.0 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 52 Feet TYPE: Loop One of the first falls upon passing through Tunnel View, standing at 620 feet tall, this short walk is a great opportunity to stretch those tired legs after a long drive up the mountain. Although much shorter than its neighbor across the way, Yosemite Falls, the mist created here is what makes it unique. When the wind blows, it appears as though a veil worn by a bride. Like most falls in the sierras, this one is best seen in the spring, but more often than not, there is water on it during the winter months as well, just not as much as other times of the year. Although the path is in fact paved, it's not wheelchair accessible due to the slight slope, but it is family friendly.   Yosemite Hiking Tips Would you prefer to join a hiking group rather than hike on your own? If so, check out the hiking tours organised by Viator here. Note that Yosemite is a park that does in fact receive a heavy amount of snow in the winter months. Many roads are closed to trails at higher elevations or are only accessible by snowshoe and cross country skiing. For those still accessible, trails are slick and should be used with caution. And year-round, all trails should always be trekked with enough water and food in case of an emergency. Although Yosemite Valley may feel very safe due to its high visitor attendance, accidents do in fact happen and hikers should be prepared for any scenario. And of course, always stay on the trail and pack everything you bring in, back out. Remember to leave it better than you found it for future generations! Categories:  General Information Leisure & Adventure Tags:  california yosemite national park hiking national park Country:  West of U.S. of America