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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.

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 in and out of Hetch Hetchy Valley
* check if you will need to wade. We waded across parts of Tiltill Valley (water above boot line and no way around, for approx 20 yards each side of the valley). Soft soil and grass means barefoot is fine.
* 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.

This is a pretty challenging trail and definitely earns its “strenuous” reputation. The first few miles to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls is the most difficult and once done with that it’s another few miles to El Capitan, but from start to finish there are some amazing views. It was a busy day with a lot of visitors stopping at the top of the falls so be prepared to share the trail. Start early, where comfortable shoes and bring lots of water and snacks to keep you going.

12 hours 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.

If you are on Glacier Point Road, you have to check out this place. Such amazing views!

So amazing in the Spring to see the power of the water. Easy trail and allows you to get really close to the base of the falls.

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.

Great view of the waterfall

Great loop, be aware thou.
the whole loop it's block by rocks, so it is flooded. You need to go upper side of trail at one point. Probably 1 mile, going between Rocks, over tree trunks and under tree trunk. So, not as easy for now. We got Sun, Rain and Mosquitoes.
Si dress accordingly to the weather.
Still thou, a challenge for beginners like us. I found a stick about 6ft. came very handy to go through this obstacles.
Great spots for pics!

Only did the Mist Trail. Didn’t go all the way to Vernal Falls. It was difficult. Uphill the whole way. Spectacular views of the waterfall. I highly recommend!

Please see Taylor M’s review

It’s more like 7 miles round trip..
I would recommend going up early to avoid the people traffic. Please have hiking shoes or boots, running shoes are no problem going up, the problem is coming back down and stepping on slick rocks.

I thought it was very hard but totally worth it. I was with 20 somethings and they had to wait for me a lot but since it was Mother’s Day they were very kind. I loved the challenge and felt very accomplished when we were done. Beautiful waterfalls but very crowded.

Awesome and amazing hike with gorgeous view all the way to the top! WARNING this is a difficult hike with trail consisting of mostly stones and rocks "A cement stair master"

hiking
2 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!

Despite the elevation gain, the treadway is for the most part is smooth with comparatively few rocks. Stunning views on the way up of Yosemite Falls, and of the eastern end of the valley, including Half-Dome, once on top.
Only small scattered patches of snow remain on the trail in the higher elevations as of early to mid May.

Quintessential Yosemite trail!
Very enjoyable despite the heavy traffic.
Early to mid May (on a weekday) best for more impressive waterfalls with Spring thaw and lesser throngs of other hikers.

leave the bay area around 3 a.m. Roll into Yosemite about 6 or 6:30. In Hit Yosemite Falls Trail. And then have all day afterwards.

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.

I am a beginning hiker and wouldn’t rate this as hard at all. It is rolling hills, but it doesn’t have any crazy ascents like pretty much every other hike in the Sierras. It gave me the confidence I needed to start going on more ambitious day hikes and is absolutely stunning in wildflower season (April 2018 in my case). I recommended it for beginners just starting out with dayhiking, but wear a hat and sunscreen up, because it’s very sunny!

Great view of El Capitan

Full flowing waterfalls with bridges at the base at the time of writing this. 5/19/18. Get soaked running across bridges but so refreshing during a hike. Best hike to date for me.

3 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

Easy trail and great with all the water. If you want to get close bring a rain coat

Awesome hike. The falls are beautiful.

Definitely hit the trail early, as others have said it gets really crowded. A hundred feet from the trailhead a bobcat walked right by me. The trail and views are phenomenal, especially the rainbows from Vernal Falls. As you ascend up Vernal the steps get pretty crazy, but the view from the top is so worth it. I continued on up to the top of Nevada Falls. Let me tell you, it’s no joke! Quite a work out, but when you get to the top of Nevada Falls you forget all the pain of going up. I opted to descend the John Muir Trail to skip the steps I hiked up. Ended up being about 9.5 miles (from trailhead parking), 2500’ elevation gain, and a little over 5 hours for me... that includes several breaks! Watch your step, take plenty of water, and know your limits and you’ll be fine.

hiking
4 days ago

This trail is a must do in Yosemite. The views are absolutely phenomenal for minimal work. It’s especially great in the spring when Yosemite Falls are really roaring.

Way better than the out-and-back trails. Take the easy to miss Roosevelt trail along the south rim cliffside from Sentinel Falls and Roosevelt Point to near Sentinel Dome.

Get their by 7 if you don't want to be overwhelmed by the crowds. You don't get soaked though. You get misted, moistened, sprayed, or damp but unless you fall in the river you're not getting soaked. I dried off in 15 min of sitting in the sun. The stairs are huge so take John Muir if you're short or have problems with stairs.

Awesome hike, Wapama Fall are worth the trip.

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