Explore the most popular birding 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.

on Vernal Falls

1 day ago

Up the regular way and down through the John Muir trail. Wonderful views all the way.

A strenuous hike for a novice. Went with a buddy who's not much of a hiker and he had a rough go at it. Stopping frequently and cramping up towards the top. Bring 3-4 liters of water, a good pair of hiking shoes/boots and hiking poles. Mid-October needed a warm sweater and gloves near the top.

The first 2.5-3 miles was fairly easy, mostly down hill on an asphalt road to Tamarack Creek(?) bridge, the last water source(October). There, the climb begins. About half way up the terrain changes from closed forest to open granite. Stay left and follow the man-made stacked rock markers. The last 2 miles goes back into the trees and flattens out a bit, then opens up again as you reach El Capitan. This is as far as we went. The view across the valley is amazing, but you can't see Half Dome from there. We were told to keep following the trail if you want to see Half Dome, we had gone far enough!

The hike up took 5 hours with frequent stops to catch our breath and question what we had gotten ourselves into! An experienced hiker could do it in 4 hours or less. Well worth the pain when you look over the ledge and grasp just how massive it is! The hike down took 4 hours with frequent stops on the uphill parts towards the end. Should only take 3.5 hours. Round trip was 9.5 hours with a lunch break on top. This was a beautiful hike and is a good test for the average hiker. I would rank it as moderate...beginners beware!

Fantastic panoramic views for v little effort!

i loved the view from the top, it’s panoramic 360° and you get an amazing view of half dome
and a river, don’t underestimate the hike, took us, three 19 year olds, 4 hours to the top and 3 hours to go down, lots of ascent and descents, suggest arrive at yosemite area the day before you plan your hike, we ended up hiking down in the dark, still very much worth the view, strenuous, saw barely anyone and those we came across were very friendly, bring LOTS of water, wouldn’t suggest as a family hike, the last 100 meters or so is very narrow and could be dangerous for younger hikers

hiking
2 days ago

Flat for 1.5, then steep to the lakes for another 1.5. The lakes are pretty. No mosquitoes when we were there mid October.

Good hike. Cathedral Peak is quite something. We went mid October and there were no mosquitoes.

Beautiful hike in the valley. We were there mid October, so the leaves were changing. The only problem was that there wasn't really any water due to mix of drought and time of year. It's great being in the valley tho. Mirror Lake was dried up, so we got to stand right in the middle of the valley and have a good view of the cliffs around and spend some time in the literal shadow of the Half Dome.

Easy and well paved path with a view of the waterfall at the end. Rocky area under the waterfall to boulder on.

Great fun and all ages can enjoy the hike!

Amazing trail

Estimates on signs and alltrails are a bit off. This trail clocks in at a little over 13 miles RT. The views are amazing, one of the best views of the Yosemite Valley. Can't beat it!

Nice walk, but bring bug spray.

hiking
4 days ago

So maybe we cheated a bit on this, and instead of trekking up from Yosemite Valley floor (y'alls that do it: mad props! that's beast mode hiking right there!), we camped out at the Little Yosemite Valley, and trekked up to the rock at sunset to have a nice view with our dinner...
it is NOT an easy hike... esp. the last part (subdome and the cables). by the time we got to the rock, it was about an hour and 15 minutes to sunset, and thank god there were only three people on the cables coming down, otherwise, it was just our group of 6. i don't know if i'd be able to do the cables if there were a ton of people on them... it is sketchy as heck. do invest in good grippy shoes and super grippy gloves. you'll thank both later. our guide gave us a good advice (it goes esp. for those who have the fear of heights): don't look around, concentrate on the next plank in-front of you, and go from plank to plank in counts of five... take all the rest you need.
THE VIEWS ARE WORTH IT!!!
my personal suggestion for this hike would be to break it up... trek up to LYV, spend the night or rest up... and then continue with the trek up to Half Dome, or do it the next day. :)

I found it too tough for my fitness level. i was starting to give up after 2.2 miles itself but with lots of rest, water, refreshments and convincing myself to keep going, I did finish the trail. The view was so rewarding. It's hard to describe the beauty of Clouds Rest summit in words. There was lots of elevation gain. At the point where Clouds Rest main part of the trail to summit begins, it's all walking on huge rocks which is open from both sides and the entire valley is visible (quite scary for me as I am afraid of heights). But the rocks are great and firm, not slippery at all. One can just keep walking on them. If you get scared once you reach close to the summit, I would suggest to just keep walking, don't look down or to the sides, just keep walking straight.
We did the hike on 13th October and started at around 7 (it was sub zero temperature) and it took me 5 hours to reach the summit (I was the slowest among my friends who did it in less than 4.5 hours). Coming down was relatively a bit easier and took around 3 hours for me (again the slowest). It was a proud moment that i finished this hike. The weather was great for most part of the hike (except the chilly first hour).

hiking
4 days ago

Great hike! Did it 10/14 (first weekend that cables are down). Set off at sunrise, up the Mist trail and back down JMT. Took around 7 hours total with no traffic up to summit. I was actually expecting the hike up to be more strenuous since I’ve just started hiking, but it was absolutely fine. Most tiring bit are the stairs up to sub dome. I had perfect conditions for this and it wasn’t too hot so I survived fine on 2l of water. Saw mother bear and 2 cubs on the way back too!

Best views of the trip on Sentinel Dome. Also enjoyed the guy free climbing the fin in the fissures.

hiking
4 days ago

Read a bunch of reviews and feel like most are somewhat exaggerated. Did this hike in about 9.5 hours, and you definitely want to start at about 2am. I started at 2:30am by myself, first time hiking in the dark with an REI 20$ headlamp, and what an experience. Couldn’t see but could hear the water falls roaring, and the night critters were frequent on the trail. The headlamp did its job and being up on the cables at sunrise was magical, as well as the dark night sky on the way up. Going down was no problem until vernal/nevada fall, when the trail was packed with people, without much regard for others on the trail. For this I probably would have went JMT, but I wanted to see the things I couldn’t see on the way up. Also the sub dome is not that grueling, and it really only lasts about 20 minutes to the base of the cables.

Didn’t do much training for this, did Four Mile Trail, Eagle Peak, clouds rest, and MT. Hoffman spread out in weeks time. Took 30 liters of water with me and a water filter, to cut down on weight and didn’t have to use the filter (starting in the dark keeps the heat down). Overall awesome experience, happy to do it. Saw loads of people going up as I was going down so start early before 5am if you want to miss that, as there was no waiting on the cables going up or down, which made it easier.

The view from the top is the payoff for taking this trail!

5 days ago

Awesome views from the top! If you plan on hiking during the summer, start as early as possible.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you but don’t overload yourself because this is a serious hike where every pound will be felt throughout the hike.

It was not that busy when we started out during a June 14th hike but on the way down we saw LOTS of people coming up during the midday sun.

Bring more water than you think you’re going to need. It was 95 by noon when I made it to the top. I had 5L on me and just about ran out at the top.

hiking
5 days ago

Not for those with a fear of heights. Awesome views of the valley but I couldn’t bring myself to get close enough to the edges to really get a good view. There is one railing and the point is very large. Trail is pretty easy up until the very end where the elevation change is a little rough going back once you’re finished. Will definitely do again, I’m thinking for sunrise!

hiking
5 days ago

INCREDIBLE! Started at 9am at the trailhead, and very thankful we did, as on the way down there were a TON of people heading up. The falls are beautiful even at their low levels. Saw a momma bear and her babies at the top of Vernal Falls beside Emerald Pool, and encountered them 2 more times, once between the falls and a third time at the top of Nevada Falls about 30yds away and they startled me pretty badly! Took the John Muir trail back down which was beautiful. Rested for about 2 hours total at the falls, plus the time to wait for the bears to cross our path the second time and not disturb them, it took us 6 hours total. Strenuous, and I could see it be much harder when there’s a lot of mist, but SO worth it. Will definitely be doing it again!

Wonderful views all the way. Highly recommend taking the John Muir Trail back down to avoid the knee grinding steps of the Mist Trail. We saw some juvenile bears pigging out in one of the treetops.

walking
5 days ago

Not a bad walk, though I was a little confused as to which path I was supposed to take since there aren't any signs telling you which of the 3 or 4 intertwining trails you're on. Really great first intro to the park, and not long. Perfect for kids. There's a spot with a bridge where you can sit on some logs and it's great for couples and kids. There's also a few meadows and not strenuous at all. Come in the spring for the best effect since there's one or two waterfalls that would look fantastic with all the snowmelt.

Just amazing one thing to note this trail on AllTrails app brings you to the backside of clouds rest you won’t be going up the side they show on you tube also don’t take the same trail down take the John Muir down avoid the crowd crawling up

hiking
6 days ago

If you want one of the best views of the park and to hike one of the most accessible trails, take this hike. The view is absolutely amazing. If you want/can handle a bit more of a challenge, Sentinel Dome is my recommendation, but standing at the edge of a cliff and beholding the fissures of the valley is simply breathtaking. Both Sentinel and Taft make for excellent sunset destinations, the former of which I can personally attest to. If you do one hike on a day trip, this should be it. There's no reason not to. Make it your last activity of the day and the sunset will be the perfect bookend to your visit.

on Sentinel Dome Trail

hiking
6 days ago

Oh my gosh. This hike was amazing. Went there to see the sunset with my girlfriend and it was so worth the challenge it took to get there. It's quick but if you're more sedentary, the last half mile will kick your butt a bit on the way up. That being said, we aren't super hikers but we only took about two 1-minute breaks and were able to make the climb. Just take your time and you'll make it. It's not terrifyingly difficult, just a good workout for the middle quarter of the whole trip. At just a few hundred feet shorter than Half Dome's elevation, it's literally a much better all-around view than Glacier Point, in my opinion, and only 10% as much people because of the climb. I've also done Taft Point, and while I think the view from Sentinel is more grand and awe inspiring, Taft Point will give you a similarly beautiful scene for much less effort. You won't get to see Half Dome though, so choose wisely.

This was my first solo backpacking trip and my first time in Yosemite and this was the perfect route for both. I completed the route over 3 days 2 nights through the pouring rain most of the time but it didn’t even matter. The scenery was unreal from the beginning to end. I stayed at booth lake the first night and the morning scenery was beautiful there. I stayed a little past Merced Lake on the second night on a cliff overlooking the Merced River. I didn’t see a single soul until my last day when I hit the valley. What an amazing experience I can’t wait to return next spring.

hiking
6 days ago

Nice to have done it but the views aren’t the best. You can’t see Half Dome from Half Dome.

Did this hike on October 13th. It took us 7.5 hours to complete the hike with an hour on top for lunch. We started the hike at 8:30AM and reached the top by 12PM. The weather was chilly when we started but as the day progressed, it was perfect hiking weather. Sunny but not hot.Also there's a good balance of ascent and flat ground to recover on this hike. There's one big ascent that happens a couple of miles into the hike. After this there's a descent and then flat ground for a while. Then comes 2.5 miles of elevation gain to reach the top. Thought the final climb would be scary but it is not as treacherous as it seems from pictures. Not a cloud visible and stunning views from the top. Didn't find a lot of bugs on the hike. Descending was harder than the ascent as we hadn't carried hiking poles. Maybe that would have reduced the strain on our knees. Overall an amazing experience.

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