Hiking at Yosemite National Park

If you love camping or hiking, Yosemite National Park is the best destination for those who love the outdoors. With over 100 trails in the national park, there is something for every kind of hiker. Hiking at Yosemite National Park gives you the ultimate experience, one that will stay with you throughout your life.

As a matter of fact, a perfect hike can include strolling through the giant Sequoias and having a picnic. In addition, you may hike to the top of the mountains filled with expansive views. Whatever be your preference, hiking trails at Yosemite National Park fits the bill. 

Although the place provides you with lots of hiking trails, in this article you get an insight into some of them. Also, there are popular trails that suit best for beginner, moderate, and advanced hikers. 

Best hiking trails at Yosemite National Park:

Lower Yosemite Falls:

Difficulty – For beginner hikers

How to get there – Through the Yosemite Valley

Distance – Round trip of 0.5 miles from the trail head

As you drive through the park heading to your next destination, this place is good for a quick hike. Visible from almost anywhere in the valley, the Yosemite Falls has the best iconic views in the whole park. A short walk via the woods can get you a better view of the falls. 

Or, you can see them from the trail head. Yosemite Falls appear spectacular during the spring because of the massive flow of water coming from the melting snow. When you stay out late night, you could catch a glimpse of the rainbows, called the moonbows. In a word, such kind of rainbows are created by the moonlight and the mist from the waterfalls. 

Glacier Point:

Difficulty – For beginner hikers

How to get there – Get to the end of the road leading to Glacier Point

Distance – Round trip of 1 mile

Glacier Point is another iconic view you would find while hiking at Yosemite National Park. Arguably one of the best places in California, here you can have the landscape views of the valley. In short, everyone could take the best shots from their cameras. Also, you get to see the famous Half Dome from there.

It’s worthy to make it to the viewpoint with short hiking, which is more of a walk directly to the viewpoint. However, You will enjoy it because the half-mile hike is quite spectacular. Sunset is when you should visit, as the sunlight seems mesmerizing on the Half Dome. 

Giant Sequoias Mariposa Grove:

Difficulty – For beginner hikers

How to get there – Drive to the Welcome Plaza of Mariposa Grove

Distance – Round trip of 0.3 to 7 miles depending on the route

Looking for a hike in the woods for about 7 miles? If yes, the Mariposa Grove could be the best place for you. Generally speaking, some of the biggest trees are found here. With limited parking at the trailhead, most people park at the southern park entrance 2 miles away. Lower groves are more crowded than the upper ones. 

Fallen Monarch is the first tree you notice while entering the grove. The massive tree has a 15 ft. wide base. The hiking trail to the Grizzly Giant is slightly uphill. It is estimated that the 30-foot wide tree is around 1800 years old. 

Lembert Dome Trail:

Difficulty – For beginner hikers

How to get there – From Tioga Road

Distance – Round trip of 2.8 miles

This is a short hike and a great antecedent to Half Dome. When you don’t get Half Dome permits or feel irritated to hike in the queue with hundreds of people, this is the best alternative. Because you get to choose your route up the granite face, Lambert Dome is the way to avoid the crowd. Make sure to wear good traction hiking shoes

At the top, you can enjoy the amazing views of the Cathedral Range, Tuolumne Meadows, and their surrounding peaks. Keep in mind not to plan a hiking trail during thunderstorms. It is good to keep an eye on the clouds and check the climate before hand.

Cathedral Lakes Trail:

Difficulty – For moderate hikers

How to get there – 9 miles west from Tioga Pass entrance

Distance – Round trip of 8 miles to see both the Lower and Upper Cathedral Lake

This hike is a good opportunity for people to get out of the Yosemite Valley. This way, you can keep yourself free from the large gathering of people. The initial three miles follow the John Muir Trail through the woods and across some streams. However, the streams only appear depending on seasons.

Either you can choose to hike Lower Cathedral Lake at the trail junction, or continue moving towards the Upper Cathedral Lake. Probably expect a crowd of people around the lake, but it has lots of space for you to hang out. Have a swim on the rocks before you plan to head back down. 

Mist Trail, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls:

Difficulty – For moderate hikers

How to get there – Trailhead east of Curry Village

Distance – Round trip of 2.5 miles to the Vernal Falls and a round trip of 5 miles to the Nevada falls

Visit the Mist Trail during the spring season to experience spectacular views. Because of its popularity, it is wise to start early. Or, head out in the evening with your headlamp to dodge crowds. It takes around 3 miles to reach the Vernal Falls. Without getting soaked you can’t reach its top.

Visit the place on a hot day, or wear a raincoat to prevent yourself from the mist. Watch out for the stairs, as they could be slippery from the water. Continue to move for another 1.5 miles to reach the Nevada Falls, while enjoying the mesmerizing views. 

The stairs to the top of the Vernal Falls are a 1-way route to prevent the gathering of people. You need to come down from the Clark Point through John Muir Trail. The expansive views of Liberty Cap could be seen behind the Nevada Falls. 

The Pohono Trail:

Difficulty – For advanced hikers

How to get there – 9 miles from Yosemite Valley on Glacier Point Road

Distance – One-way route of 13 miles

When you want to see almost everything in the National Park, the Pohono Trail is what you need. It takes you to the most classic views in the entire park, the Glacier Point, and the Tunnel View. The rest of the hike takes you around Crocker, Taft, Stanford, Inspiration, and Dewey points. 

Also, you get to see El Captain, Cathedral Rocks, Nevada, Vernal, Bridalveil Falls, and Sentinel Rocks. Whichever end you plan to start from, you have miles of strenuous uphill hiking. Yet, when you start from Glacier Point and continue to Tunnel View, it gets easier. Although the crowds thin out somewhere in the middle miles, it gets busier near the trailheads. 

Half Dome:

Difficulty – For advanced hikers

How to get there – Trailhead on the east end of the valley, follow signs from the Curry Village

Distance – Round trip of 14.2 miles through Mist Trail, or a round trip of 16.5 miles through John Muir Trail

Hike to the Half Dome could be an unforgettable adventure if you want to push yourself harder. Following the metal cables on the rock can make your palms wet. It’s not a normal day hike, as it may appear. It takes preparation and planning. 

The lottery permit system helps in coping with overcrowding, as the cable section could be dangerous. Avoid hiking Half Dome when it is stormy, rainy, and lightning outside. Make sure to wear proper footwear and bring adequate water with you. Start early, plan a turnaround time, and take a headlamp with you.

John Muir Trail:

Difficulty – For advanced hikers

How to get there – Start in Happy Isles Curry Village in Yosemite

Distance – About 211 miles long stretch 

Now that’s what is called a backpacking trip. The trail stretches from the Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. If you like to hike only the Park portion of the Trail, it takes about 58 miles. Also, you need a wilderness permit. 

It takes about a week to complete, but it depends on how far you want to hike every day. The route begins at Happy Isles and ends in the eastern border of the national park. You can have the Vernal and Nevada Falls, Cathedral Lakes, and the Tuolumne Meadows. 

How to plan a hike at Yosemite National Park:

  • Check the official website of the park for recent conditions and closures
  • Overnight permits are purchased separately. Hence, if you buy them, there is no need for a day-use permit
  • Taking shortcuts can cause trail erosion, which can be dangerous and illegal. So, stay on the trail
  • water in good bottles
  • Trails are not patrolled or maintained regularly. Hence, travel carefully
  • Because of the recent pandemic, the Park is accessible only by reservation up to October 31, 2020

Wrapping up:

In conclusion, Yosemite National Park is filled with amazing landmarks, breathtaking views, and awesome hikes. If you are planning a trip to this wonderful place, remember to make this a memorable adventure trip. Check with the authorities and find the permits you need.