Explore the most popular camping 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.

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.

4 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.

hiking
6 days ago

Easily the most challenging yet rewarding hike I have ever done. A challenging point was locating the trail once you reach the rock faces and before the cables. Most important things for this hike are good traction Shoes and of course gloves for the cables!

7 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.

Truly stunning and CHALLENGING trail. Note that there is no camping allowed beyond Bridal Veil Creek just beyond the junction with McGuirk Meadow Trail.

We started very late on Saturday after running the nearby Yosemite Half Marathon so only made it about 1.5 miles before setting up camp. The site was beautiful- open rock face overlooking the western section of the park. If you're able to, I'd recommend camping at Stanford or Dewey points as the vista is even more beautiful and has nearly 180 views including el capitan and half dome.

Day 2 was steep uphill until Dewey point after which we had some nice downhill to Bridal Veil creek. Good campsites near the water. NOTE you cannot camp beyond the bridge here! After setting up camp around noon we did a dayhike to Taft point and Sentinel Dome. It was clear people camped along here, but it's illegal! Taft point was very busy since it's a short hike from Glacier Road. Ditto for Sentinel Dome, but both were worth it. Unparalleled views for this entire section.

We hiked out from Bridal Veil creek on day 3. Very intense and challenging downhill. Overall, an incredibly gorgeous and rewarding trip!

12 days ago

Few things to pass on: 1) gloves are a must. We bought some cheap ones at the Dollar Store and they were perfect. We then passed them on to fellow hikers. 2) bring plenty of water and food. The constant climb and high altitude saps your energy quickly. 3) the posted distances are off. Advertized mileage is 14-16 depending on route. We took the Mist Trail up and John Muir down and logged over 21 miles! We referenced a Garmin GPS and also the iPhone Health App. Other hikers had similar experiences.

Got a cable permit for May 11th, the first day they were open and what an amazing experience! Left the parking lot at 6:05am and were back there at 6:00pm. We took our time, stopped quite a bit, and spent almost an hour on top.

Awesome experience, must do at least once in a lifetime! Huge props to the group that maintains the trails and cables. Thanks for all the work!!!

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

hiking
16 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
16 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
18 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.

dope trail did it may 5th only saw 3 other souls in this 12.5 mi R/T hike. follow the markers to not get lost. the frozen lake at the end was amazing and freaking gorgeous most def do this again in the hotter days. didn't see any wild life but oh well loved this hike!

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.

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.

hiking
26 days ago

Trail was amazing, first half was met with wonderful waterfalls and second half by paths through woods. Did climb with cables down. And 15lbs on my back the whole way. Well worth exhausting trip. Hike up took about 6.5 hours including the 1hr stops for scenery(first time) cables themselves were easy relative to hike, only took 15-20min to climb dome. Way down was about 4hrs(got lost twice...it was dark). Very challenging and rewarding. I used nothing but gloves to climb, though I would not recommend.

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!!

Awesome hike with amazing views! Nothing technical, but a lot of challenging uphill climbs. Make sure to pack efficiently and not skip leg day prior or tackling this beauty!

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.

hiking
1 month ago

Love it!!!!! I’ve hiked it 4 times..... my first time at 8 years old...... cables fun!

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked Half Dome on 04/22/18’ just before the season opens. The weather was perfect and just enough snow on the grown to make for a beautiful scenery. I prefer to go when the cables are down, since a permit is not required and there are minimal people. (A climbing harness is highly recommended if you ascend when the cables are down)

Highly recommended trail. Bring your camera!

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!

My boyfriend and I were told to hike Clouds Rest if nothing else, so we planned for it to be our last of the trip. We did an 8 mile hike the first day, about 13 the second, took a day off trip to Mammoth Lakes then planned to do it the fourth and final day. However, to our surprise despite Tioga Rd being opened that day, the conditions weren't ideal (a lot of snow - possibilities of getting lost). However after much debate we decided to do it...but from the valley floor. We ended up clocking 23 miles round trip from our campsite to the peak. After the first 3 miles moral was low on my end but nevertheless kept trucking until we both got a strong second wind and starting moving at a good clip. The last 1-2 miles of these were probably the toughest for me and the scrambling at the top. More so because I was so anxious to finally get to the peak. However the views and satisfaction of reaching the top were unlike anything I have ever experienced. Until this trip my longest hike was a mere 4-5 miles at best....and here we just hiked up to a 10,000ft peak with 6,000ft elevation gain. It was great and I highly recommend it. On the way down we linked up with a worked in the park and ended up cruising (only stopping ONE time for 11 miles) making our total time around 8:30. We left at about 8:00am...a late start and would recommend a 6-6:30am start if you don't plan on booking it like us. We were probably averaging 18-22 minute miles consistently the whole way. I ran out of water (packed 3 L) on the way down and panicked a little but borrowed some from our new buddy...and probably would have been fine if I didn't get any more in me. I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND THIS HIKE!!!

trail running
1 month ago

Hermosas vistas de las caídas de agua y de los imponentes bloques de piedra del half dome y de los cercanos. Me tocó mucho hielo en el ascenso por mist trail a Vernada falls la verdad muy peligroso, opté por regresar y seguir por John Muir trail !
Me faltaron un kilometro y medio estimo para la base del half dome, era llegar a tiempo o bien disfrutar sacando hermosas fotos, y esto último fue lo que hice
Muy bueno para tail running mi garmin marco exacto 30 kmts y 1560+
Altamente recomendable

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