Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Yosemite National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Really enjoyed the flora and the incredible vistas and the waterfalls that are abundant all the way up!

one of the most challenging hikes I have ever done. It is long and strenuous, felt like it doesn't end. We went on a cool day but still ran out of water, make sure to grab at least 3L for each person going.
there were patches of snow along the trail
the way back hurts the legs, note to self was to grab pain-killers to survive the way back

clockwise May 19 2018, 3 days 2 nights. Camped at Vernon lake and Rancheria (considered Tiltill but limited sites and unlimited mosquitoes).

In the early season, this is as good as any Yosemite backcountry hike (lakes, waterfalls, views, variety of ecosystems and vegetation)
+ and
no crowding (walked up for permit, saw fewer than 10 people when away from lower trail along the reservoir).

In later season I can imagine the dust and heat and aridity might change the balance and drop a star.

It may distract from your enjoyment if you think about the history of Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Consider the info from online and national park service as well as from San Francisco department of water that is on the placards.

Prep suggestions:
* we liked clockwise, not only to get elevation out of the way early, but facing into nice view coming back down to Hetch Hetchy :
* be ready for wearying uphill and downhill out of and then back in to Hetch Hetchy Valley
* check if you will need to wade thru Tiltill Valley (water above boot line and no way around, for approx 20 yards each side of the valley). Soft soil and grass meant barefoot was fine for most of our group.
* fair amount of bogs and rock hopping and downed trees changed our time calculus.

Highlights:
* great campsites + no fire restriction
* water at Wapama falls is enough to get wet walking across the bridge but not enough to close the trail
* wildflowers!! (So so many and so many species, especially at lower elevations)
* Tiltill Valley = spectacular in a peaceful way, well worth seeing (think baby Yosemite or tiny pre flood Hetch Hetchy)
* Vernon lake, especially from the ridge above the lake (toward Tiltill/Rancheria)

Note on mileage: Trails illustrated is 25, not counting unavoidable .5 each way from parking to the dam and variable to get from junction to actual camping at Vernon (.3 each way, but could be more). My gps said 27.5. I would use 25+ for planning assumption, not the 23 from AllTrails (sorry guys!)
Final note that the backcountry office says 28 miles, but I believe that is the trails illustrated 25 plus 3 miles optional extra around laurel lake.

2 days ago

Beautiful falls and you get close enough to get pretty soaked in the Spring months. Lots of steps and they get really intense just before you reach the top of the fall, but the view from the top is so worth it. If you feel up for it, I definitely recommend continuing to Nevada Fall and returning on the John Muir Trail.

This is a fantastic trail that should be considered by all that love the high sierra. I did this in July 2015 over 15 days starting south of Whitney and ending in happy isles. Days where long but not outragous. I was on my own but never felt lonely. Lots of people on the trail to talk to if you want. You can also just hie along and people will leave you alone. Finding a camp site or water wasn't hard. I tried to finish my day making it halfway up a pass. This way I could rest the night and make it over the pass for breakfast the next day. Be sure to pack lite, I mean really only bring what you need as that pack certainly gets heavy after 15 days on the trail.

Power through the punishing ascent at the beginning. It’s worth it! This has stunning florae the whole way that made me feel like I was in the Pacific Northwest. There’s also tons of manzanita (and really old, grown in manzanita). There are some switchbacks about 3/4 of the way in that took me longer than I’d care to admit to complete, but the falls itself are worth the climb.

I’m surprised this hasn’t been featured on Westworld or something. It has a foreboding, imposing look and has to be seen to be believed. If you are scared of heights, be forewarned that the top of the falls may creep you out a bit.

5 days ago

Great trial with big uphills we tipped Vernal then came down JMT back to the bridge spectacular views. If you go to top of falls be prepared to get wet

Not a very hard trail for downhill but it offers a great view of the Nevada fall and the valley. It also has a small cascade which you will walk under that brings you a great experience for the summer.

hiking
10 days ago

Hiked to the falls, and the loop you see on the map above it counter clockwise. If you do that it's about 18 miles total and doubles your elevation gain. Also as of writing this the trail on the southern side of that loop was washed out and disappeared, so make sure you either you know how to navigate. Needless to say if you throw in that loop this trail is challenges and the 10 decent is brutal on the joints.

Did this hike yesterday. It was an awesome hike. If you are looking for a hike in Yosemite that is nice and not to crowded with people I would definitely recommend this one.

our very first hike in 2004 to mark 1 year breast cancer free took awhile but i finished great day

hiking
15 days ago

Gate opens at 7, closes at 9pm. All trails just opened. Falls amazing!! This is a tough, rewarding hike. Be in good shape.

backpacking
15 days ago

day 1- ascent via snow creek trail, camped at snow creek falls ***uhh-mazing spot to sleep under the stars*** (#romanticaf, lol) / day 2- indian rock and north dome, camped at lehamite creek / day 3- descent via upper and lower yosemite falls. ~mother nature gave the gracious gift of beautiful weather during the month of may and spoiled me with various scenery: from the way the granite walls opened up the higher in elevation you climbed; to stunning treelines; to what was left of a winter wonderland with the slight patches of snow at higher elevation; to the way my cup runneth over with the waterfalls~ more solitude. major naturegasms. while clouds rest and half dome trails definitely give you the thrill, snow creek makes you work for those rewards (i found it to have more of a mental aspect), but all equal in the priceless treasures only yosemite can offer.

backpacking
17 days ago

Started at Cathedral Lakes TH for 3 night/4 day in late Aug 2017. Camped at Sunrise, near base of Half Dome spur trail then 3rd night in LYV. Did half dome on day 3 and left packs at camp to lighten load. Smoke from fires obscured view on half dome, unlucky timing for us. Family of 4 with teenagers did this trip. It was tough, but very doable and worth every step. Tons of people on last leg downhill to Yosemite Valley; yearned for the solitude of the high country! Need permits to do this hike overnight. Ranger was checking for permits.

Amazing first backpacking trip. From the backpackers parking lot to camp we logged about 7mi, so round trip including waterfall exploring was about 15mi. If the falls are raging, as they were on May 5th, you might lose some bug repellant crossing Wampama and mosquitos seemed to be the worst in the mile or two following. Despite other descriptions I've seen, there is no signage indicating the falls or camp is coming up. Rocks create a fork toward the sites after the first cascade you see. There were about 10-12 spots with fire pits. The highest site is closest to the first cascade and would be ideal to watch the sunset.

Good early season trip. It was clear the trail crew hadn’t made their rounds...many down trees and overgrown sections.

Did the loop counterclockwise staying at Vernon night one. Very pretty lake with better campsites in the eastern side.

Lingering snow near Mt Gibson. Tiltill Valley is beautiful but bogged out requiring forging the meadow through calf deep water which was much funnier in the car ride home than it was while we were doing it.

The trail from Tiltil Valley to Rancheria Falls is pretty exposed and overgrown. All the sites at Rancheria we’re either taken or to too close for comfort so we ended up heading for the car.

The bridges at Wapama Falls were fun to cross and a nice mid-day soaking.

Great Hike. Completed this weekend. Amazing views of waterfalls and cascades. A few good spots to relax, grab a bite and enjoy the view.

5/5/18 Beautiful trail, nicely graded. Would be HOT later in the summer.

Looking for a big Yosemite hike but can’t get permits for Half Dome? CLOUDS REST might be your solution. I’ve hiked this one 5 times. Plan for 7-8 hour trip (3-3 1/2 up and maybe about 15 min less on the way down). We usually stay at the top for 45 min or so to eat lunch, relax and take in the views. Best time to do it would be July-October. If this seems like too big of a trip, but you still want to do a backcountry hike in Yosemite, consider NORTH DOME. It’s about 5 miles shorter. I actually prefer the views despite being at a lower elevation.

A great trail with some steep sections. Like most trails in Yosemite, there is some elevation on this one. Moderate is a good description. Wear broke in boots/shoes. This is a nice starting point to link to some other sights such as Taft Point, Glacier Point, and Panorama. This hike and the connecting trails up top are some of the least crowded in the park. Nice water features and secluded camping along the way. The upper section Chilnualna Creek is also full of eager wild trout, so pack a fly rod ;-)

This is probably the best hike I’ve ever been on. Trail quality is top notch and the views are spectacular. The elevation gain feels steady. Depending on when you go, and how much water there is, you might get wet near Wapama Falls. Absolutely stunning hike.

It's not that moderate. If you have not hiked for a while you'll be in for a treat.

Did the trek last weekend via snowshoes. Amazing!!! Worth the long mileage. My app said it was 11.5 miles from the Badger Pass ski parking lot to the tip of Glacier Point with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Spent the night and hiked out the next day. Had the lookout to myself for sunset!!

In my opinion this trail should be rated more of a hard trail due to its length and elevation gain. Overall great views all around from forest, to granite clearings, to an amazing view of the valley. Be wary though that after crossing cascade creek there is no water until shorty before getting to El Cap.

Great hike for backpacking or just a day trek. We did a one night backpacking trip and were in awe the entire time. I would describe the trail as moderate with a pack and easy without one. There were quite a few felled trees which were difficult to navigate under with a full pack. Very moderate elevation gain and beautiful waterfalls almost every mile. Plenty of shade cover and well marked trail. The cascades at the top were well worth it!

Fun short hike

This is a fairly tough hike and a good amount of it is exposed to the sun, so hydrate beforehand and bring plenty of water with you. I went in April, and there were plenty of places along the way to refill my water bottles for filtering, but I imagine that it is very dry in the summer without the opportunity to refill water. Snacks are also a must, as you will expend a fair amount of energy.

It took me just over 5 hours round trip (with some stops to rest, refill water, and of course to take in the views, which are breathtaking - besides the waterfall views, there are also amazing views of the Wawona valley and Wawona Dome).

This trail was not crowded at all when I went in April, which was a nice change from the day before when I was hiking a Yosemite Valley trail. On this trail, I encountered perhaps 12-15 other hikers.

The wading pool mentioned in the description was not accessible when I went, as there was a lot of extra powerful water steams flowing outwards from the falls due to the spring snowmelt and recent rain. As mentioned in the description, there really is no point where one can see the entire waterfall - however, the hike is still totally worth it just for the views of the valley below, and of course the views of the waterfall are still impressive.

A gorgeous August week in the Sierra with side trips to lakes reflecting rugged peaks. One of my favorites!

great not really steep hike apart from couple of sections, gorgeous waterfalls, sceneries and forest - highly recommend!

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