Yosemite National Park is one of our favorite national parks. It was the first national park I visited as an mature, and the magic of your first one always stays with you. At that time, I didn’t even know what a national park was, and I only vaguely remember the road trips of my childhood. Now we have visited more than 30 of them and hope to visit them all by the end of the year.
Over the years, Yosemite has become popular and overcrowded, but one of the best ways to avoid most crowds is to just hit the trails! To help you plan your trip, we have compiled a list of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park, and then a full list of hikes below.
11 BEST HIKES IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
1. HALF DOME
You can see Half Dome from the most iconic views of the valley such as Tunnel View and Glacier Point. This is the hike on the bucket list that everyone wants to do and is part of the John Muir Trail. Due to its popularity, it is difficult to get a license, but if you are lucky, you should definitely go there.
You get great views during the walk and if that’s not enough for you, you have the pleasure of mounting the cables from the sub-dome to the half-dome. The sight of the sub-dome paralyzed me. It took me half an hour to gather the courage, and to this day I remember that it was scarier than any other hike we did or even climbing.
To plan the hike, check out our packing list and photo diary. It is certainly an arduous hike, even in one sense, so to do the hike you need to be well prepared.
2. MIST TRAIL
Even if you can’t get a permit for Half Dome, be sure to visit Mist Trail, the first part of the hike on the way to Half Dome. Although it is not such a long walk, you will see some of the best landscapes.
We also climb stone steps to see the 317-foot-long vernal Falls, which soak you in the spring and early summer. If the sun is right, you will also get rainbows in the fog.
3. FALL OF NEVADA
If you’re just warming up when you reach the Vernal fall summit, head to the 594-foot Nevada Fall summit. You eliminate a lot of the crowds that come to the trail and you can even soak your feet at the top of Nevada Fall.
4. FOUR-MILE TRAIL
The four-mile trail takes you from the valley floor to the Glacier Point Visitor Center. After climbing above the tree line about a kilometer away, you will start to get different views as you continue through the switchbacks.
When you reach the top, you get a direct shot of Yosemite Falls and views of Sentinel Dome, El Capitan and Half Dome. You can also make it a one-way trip by taking the shuttle from Glacier Point to go back down (or up and down, which is much easier).
5. YOSEMITE FALLS, California
This is one of the oldest trails in the park. It was built in the 1870s and takes you to the top of the highest waterfall on the continent at 2,425 feet. You can do the 8.4-mile, 2,900-foot hike by continuing to Yosemite Point, which is the highest point on the North Shore, to admire Half Dome and Eagle Peak.
It’s been years since I took this walk, but I still remember how excited I would be from any point of view. It was getting better and better.
6. THE CATHEDRAL LAKES
Take a hike to the lower and upper Cathedral lakes and enjoy the view of the Cathedral Peak from both. The hike starts at an altitude of 8,600 meters, so be prepared for a certain altitude!
It is a beautiful walk that will take you to the edge of the park, and even a little further. Along the way, admire the ruins of log cabins from the 1879 gold and silver tree, Summit Lake and Sardine Lake, and finish the trail with a breathtaking view of Mono Lake.
8. THE GLEN AULIN TRAIL
Follow the Tuolumne River and finally meet the Tuolumne Falls and the White Waterfall, an ideal place for swimming in June and July. If you haven’t had enough waterfalls, keep hiking up to 18 miles back and forth to see California Falls, LeConte Falls, and the water wheel falls.
9. REST OF THE CLOUDS
Half Dome is definitely a hike not to be missed, but it is crowded and not always the best view. The best views have a half dome, and the rest have stunning views of the half dome with North Dome, El Cap and Glacier Point. Plus, it’s more fun with fewer walkers.
10. NORTH DOME
This walk takes you through the Half Dome, making it one of the best views in the park. Along the way, you will see beautiful meadows and even a rare granite arch called Indian Arch. If you want to enjoy the view at sunrise or sunset, there are even campsites near the dome.
11. MIRROR LAKE
This easy and popular trail takes you to a lake with beautiful reflections. If you visit in early summer, there are also tons of wildflowers.