Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most scenic and spectacular hikes in the world. Over 3.5 million visitors travel from all corners of the world every year to marvel at the waterfalls and hike the famous trails of the 3rd oldest national park in the United States (Established October 1, 1890). With over 800 miles of trails you are sure to keep yourself busy. Most visitors head straight for Yosemite Valley, but there are many great hikes in Wawona, Tuolumne Meadows and the Hetch Hetchy as well. The park's elevation ranges from 2000ft to 13,114ft (600m to 4,000m), stretching from Giant Sequoia groves housing 200ft trees over 2,000 years old, to breath-taking valleys carved by glaciers, and home to the highest waterfall in America, to alpine meadows filled with rivers, lakes, and wildflowers. Half Dome and El Capitan rise from the central glacier-formed Yosemite Valley, as does Yosemite Falls, North America's tallest waterfall. Three Giant Sequoia groves and vast wilderness are home to diverse wildlife. Tuolumne Meadows is a great area to visit to get away from the large crowds in Yosemite Valley. This area is a few thousand feet higher than the valley and may take some time before becoming completely acclimated. Wawona is in the south western part of Yosemite National Park and is much less visited compared to the Valley. There are several highlights of this area including the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia which was protected by Galen Clark 150 years ago and is home to over 300 massive Sequoias, some of the largest and oldest trees in the world still alive today.
We hiked here on a sunny day in February, and the entire experience was amazing! We snaked our way up the switchbacks and were rewarded at the top with views of Yosemite valley, snowcapped mountains and half dome! Then around 3.5 miles we rounded a corner and BAM - there was the amazing Yosemite falls shining in the sunlight with a huge rainbow at the bottom. The first 3.5 miles of the hike were snow-less, but waterproof hiking boots are recommended due having to walk through waterfalls/creeks that have spilled across the trail. We didn't venture farther past the falls due to the amount of people who hiked the snowy trail without the proper gear, making snowshoeing over their tracks a challenge. The whole adventure, photo ops included, took around 3 hours.
Good day hike but the views are not extraordinary that you can see it only from this hike. The park offers too may wonderful hikes with exceptional scenery. I'd rather to the less strenuous but way too scenic vernal and Nevada falls hike via mist trail any time.
My longest day hike so far. Did this in 2007. Took me almost 13 hours. went with friends, and we spent lot of time taking pictures for the first few hours. Coming down from Nevada falls via Mist trail was a bad idea. Painful for knees. If I go next time, I'd do this at 2 day trip, camping first night at little yosemite valley.
A quintessential Yosemite hike that is worth enduring crowds for. Perfect view of Halfdome from atop the falls, as well as an unbelievable view down the surging waters. Certainly a climb on the switchbacks, but take our time to pop off to the little overlooks over the valley. Been five years and I still have fond memories and can't wait to go back. Happy trails
Joy W. on Four Mile Trail
A bit on the brutal side, but that's my kind of hike! Really enjoyed the elevation gain along with the great views.
I started this hike from Glacier point with 3 others. I couldn’t get a permit for Little Yosemite Valley, so I opted for the next closest thing which was Illilouette Creek. We would be back on the trail I wanted by the next morning anyway. So this was a slight detour. So we headed down towards the creek with all our gear for a 6 day adventure. We crossed a small creek right before getting to where we would cross Illilouette creek. It was running pretty good but no problems crossing. When we got to where the trail crosses Illilouette, that was another story. The creek was running really deep and swift. There was no getting across right here. So we stopped for a while to weigh our options. One of them not being swept away. We scouted around for a place to cross but things weren’t looking to good. We ended up chatting with a guy who had just crossed and he told us where. It was a ways upstream, so I scoped it out and deemed it doable. The water was about waist deep on me, and higher on the rest of group. It was also about 60’ across too. We all did get across though, and made our way to a nice clearing that was close by for the first night. The next day brought us to Nevada Falls where we took our first break. Then on past Little Yosemite Valley to a nice camp spot right off the trail that was just before the cut off to Clouds Rest. We spent 2 nights here. The next day we summited Clouds Rest. Incredible views from on top, and nice to be able to do it without the backpacks on. The next morning we packed up and headed for Merced Lake. Once off the JMT, the trail descended gradually down to the river. The outflow from the lake was just as impressive as the inflow from above. Some wild whitewater. We spent one night at the campground by the lake, and the next day headed down river to LYV for our last night. This is a beautiful stretch of trail through here. Granite and water everywhere. LYV is a busy campground. Lots of people. The final morning we packed up and headed back to Glacier Point. Our original plan was to do a high country trip out of Tuolumne Meadows, but most of my planned route was still snowbound. So we had to regroup totally. But this was a really nice loop.