Hiking The Four Mile Trail In Yosemite – Everything you need to know

Nothing beats the great outdoors feeling. If you love the feel of nature around you, the four-mile trail hike at Yosemite is the best. But, what exactly makes the four-mile trail Yosemite a great expedition? Additionally, if you decide to take the trip, what should you expect, and how can you improve your planning process?

Here’s all the information you need to know about the four-mile trail Yosemite national park.

The four-mile trail hike overview

Total trail distance – 4 miles (7.7 kilometers) for one-way trips and 9.6 miles (15.5 kilometers) for roundtrips.

Difficulty level – Relatively strenuous and equally demanding

Average hiking time – 4 hours one way and 8 hours for the roundtrip

The four-mile trail hike kicks off at the base of Sentinel Rock. The trail then follows a scenic route to Glacier point, the top of Yosemite Valley. While on this trail, you’ll experience the breathtaking sceneries along the steep climb.

The most popular route was completed in 1872 and is still in use today. However, over time, the route has been altered and now covers about 5 miles.

As mentioned above, the four-mile trail at Yosemite National Park is full of scenic views. Some of the views you can expect along this path include the Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, and, for those willing to stick it out for longer, the Half Dome serves as the reward.

Glacier Point lies at the end of your four-mile trail Yosemite. Here, you can rest and enjoy your accomplishment. Glacier point also has amenities such as parking and restrooms, and during the summer months, you can also find a snack stand.

One key factor to note is the four-mile trail at Yosemite National park is there are no free shuttle services. Thus, if you’re hiking one way, you’ll need someone to pick you or drop you at one end.

Fortunately, you can buy a tour bus ticket and ride on the daily busses that run three times a day. You can book the bus ticket either to or from Glacier Point. While advance tickets are available, they are only one-way tickets – from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point.

When is the best season to visit the four-mile trail hike?

Typically, the four-mile trail at Yosemite national park opens up in May as favorable weather conditions are a key element in the hike. When the snow starts building up, Glacier Point is closed down, and Union Point serves as the end of the trail. The snow built up from Union Point and Glacier Point can prove hard to navigate, even for experienced hikers. In cases of a major snowfall, the entire four-mile trail hike may be closed down.

When partially closed, you can still access the four-mile trail at Yosemite National Park but only for 3 miles (5 kilometers.) At this range, you’d not have access to a significant portion of the picturesque views the trail hike has to offer.

Luckily, you’ll get to enjoy a few scenes, especially of the Yosemite Valley. However, it is noteworthy to mention even the shortened trail can turn exceedingly slippery and icy during the winter and early spring months.

Common hiker safety tips

As highlighted above, this trail is relatively difficult. As such, you’ll need to be extra careful and observe the rules outlined by your guide or team leader. Some of the common safety tips for hikers climbing the four-mile Yosemite trail include;

·    Start early – While the Yosemite four-mile trail is an enjoyable hike, it can sometimes get very hot. The middays and afternoons often contain hot and humid conditions. To beat the scorching sun, you should start your hike early enough. This way, you’ll also get to enjoy the mild morning sun and the views along the way.

·    Stick to the trail – most hikers have an adventurous spirit and sometimes tend to wander off on their own. On this trail, you’ll have to resist all temptations to separate from the group. 

 Cutting switchbacks on this trail can turn dangerous as there are numerous ledges and drop-offs concealed by the bushes.

·    Watch your step – Sprained ankles, and other minor injuries are a common occurrence in this trail. This is partially due to the partially paved pathways and the loose sand on top. These features make the trail slippery, even in warm and dry conditions. 

When preparing for the four-mile hike at Yosemite National park, wear appropriate shoes based on the weather. Ideally, any slippery shoe should stay off your feet if you intend to leave the trail without any injuries or fractures.

Should you carry water on the four-mile hike?

Unfortunately, the four-mile Yosemite trail does not provide water along the way. This means you have to carry your own. Hydration is a vital part of the four-mile hike, and you want to make sure you have enough water for the whole trail. At the same time, you don’t want to carry too much water that it overwhelms you.

Generally, if you intend to make the 4-mile one-way trip, carry about 2 liters of water. And if you plan to hike to Glacier Point and back, you should have around four liters to last you the hike.

From late May to late October, Glacier Point opens a light snack stand. During this season, you can buy foods and beverages at the top.

Are there restrooms on the four-mile trail?

Regrettably, the four-mile Yosemite trail does not have restrooms stops along the way. As such, you should probably relive yourself before starting the hike.

Opportunely, at the starting point in Yosemite Valley, there are vault toilets that you can use before embarking on the hike. From May through October, flush toilets may be available. At Glacier Point, however, only vault toilets are available all through.

Is there enough parking?

If you’re looking to do the roundtrip, you can park at Yosemite Valley. Alternatively, if you’re making the one-way trip, you can have someone pick you from the parking spot near Glacier Point.

Always ensure your car has enough gas before the hike. While you’ll meet loads of friendly and helpful people along the way, it could take a while before you can find gas and get moving along.

General rules and trail etiquette

Bicycles, pets, and strollers are not allowed on the four-mile Yosemite trail. Additionally, other general safety trips such as avoiding shortcut switchbacks must be followed at all times. As mentioned above, these shortcut switchbacks could be dangerous. Increased activity deviating from the trail also adds to trail erosion and environmental degradation.

Feeding the wildlife along the four-mile trail is also prohibited. Additionally, the staff further advice all visitors to keep their food and personal belongings close to them at all points. When leaving, carry out and properly dispose of any waste material, including food waste, shells, and wrappings.

What of the acrophobic?

Funny enough, some of the noticeable reviews about the four-mile Yosemite hike are from people with a fear of height. While some succumb to pressure from their friends and family, most are looking to overcome their fear of heights.

Whichever side of the divide you fall into, the four-mile hike is an amazing experience even for those afraid of heights. If you’re worried your fear might get the best of you, you can enjoy the short hike that still gives you scenic views of the Yosemite Valley.

However, if you want to brace on and rid yourself of the fear of heights, you can soldier on and enjoy even more quaint views from higher up as many have on this trail.

Travel preparation checklist

Before embarking on this hike of a lifetime, you should do a final run to ensure you have all the information and essentials. All of this can be broken into a few easy-to-follow principles that include;

1. Ensure you have everything packed – Depending on the weather, you may need to pack an extra layer of clothing. You can consult with one of the guides before starting the hike. Go over your checklist to ensure everything is accounted for and remove whatever is not necessary.

2. Properly dispose of all your waste – As mentioned above, you can carry a trash bag to dispose of any waste. You can also check the provided guidelines for disposing of any human waste.

3. Don’t take anything with you – This picturesque hike is full of wonderful treasures. However, the only things you should leave with are the memories and pictures. Taking any items from the hike is greatly frowned upon and heavily discouraged.

4. Observe the environment – You may end up having to set up camps and fires on your way to Glacier Point. Before pitching tent or lighting fires, ensure there’s no harm to the environment, and put out fires when progressing.

Ultimately, the Yosemite four-mile hike is regarded as the transformational journey of a lifetime. While it is a fairly difficult climb, countless hikers have conquered it, and so can you. Are you planning on visiting this quaint four-mile hike? The information above will help you adequately prepare for the hike.

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