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.
Only mistake I made was rushing out of the gate when the trail is paved near Happy Isles. The granite stair steps would take your breath away if it weren't for the breathtaking views. Rather than turning around and taking the JMT back down, I continued along the Panoramic Trail -- which I would highly suggest. If you're interested in a long day loop hike with continuous views, combine the Mist, Panorama and Four Mile trails.
I have nothing bad to say about this trail! It has breathtaking views the whole entire way. It starts in Yosemite Valley and ends at the top of Glacier Point. There is a little river you have to cross and it's a little scary because the crossing point is where the water goes down (like a waterfall) - so come prepared with waterproof shoes and trekking poles to help you balance. I decided on 4 stars but that's only because you can backpack on the trail. :)
Another must-do hike in Yosemite Valley, very strenuous hike to the top of Yosemite Falls. The elevation gain is steady, with many switchbacks. You get a break halfway through where you're trekking level and actually descend for a little bit. This is where you get the great shot of the upper falls. Another set of switchbacks takes you to the top of the rock. The sound of the thunderous water cascading is nearly as impressive as the sight. Hang out at the top, with binoculars, and check out the whole valley. The overlook is awesome. Didn't want to leave. One of the best views, ever!!
One of the absolute must-do hikes in Yosemite Valley, the Mist Trail from Happy Isles to the top of Vernal Falls. Going early in the day is how we always do it. As this trail is heavily trafficked, it can get pretty unpassable on the portion with the granite steps. This is especially true as the day goes on. Pretty amazing view from the top though.