Half Dome Trail is a 15 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 15.0 miles Elevation Gain: 5,206 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

snowshoeing

beach

forest

partially paved

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

no dogs

Yosemite National Park is open to those with reservations begining on Thursday, June 11. See the park website for more info: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/covid19.htm Half Dome is a serious endurance hike taking visitors 4800 feet above the Yosemite Valley to spectacular views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. A permit is required for this hike, see below. Preparation and safety are key to having a fantastic experience. This is a hike that requires you to be in shape. Most take 10 to 12 hours to hike to Half Dome and back depending on the routes up and down. Plan to leave around sunrise (or earlier) and then have a non-negotiable turn-around time. The trail is fairly well marked but make sure you watch for all trail signs as you can miss them. The elevation gain is very strenuous, starting with steep climb in the beginning to Vernal Falls, followed by another steep climb to the top of Nevada Falls. After the second waterfall, there is about 1 mile of fairly level hiking until you reach Little Yosemite Campground, followed by steep switchbacks through the forest. At about 7 miles you will reach a break in the trees, with a beautiful view of the side of Half dome with the valley below. After some steep switchbacks carved like stairs into the rock, you will reach Half Dome with only 400 feet to go. These last 400 feet are the most challenging, but also the most rewarding (although you may not realize it until you are comfortably back on the valley floor). The famous part of the Half Dome hike is the ascent up the cable route. The two steel cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment. The cables are around a 45-55 degree grade, with wooden supports every 10 to 20 feet to rest and maintain your balance. Using gloves is highly recommended to get a better grip and avoid painful blisters. Be sure to tightly secure your water bottles and cameras for the climb up, because you will want them once at the top. The Half Dome cables usually go up the Friday before Memorial Day (conditions permitting) and come down the day after Columbus Day. Compared to the hike up, the return journey flies by and before you know it you will be back at the top of Nevada falls. You have 2 options here: the Mist Trail, which is how you came up is about 3.4 miles (5.5km), or the John Muir Trail for a slight change of scenery (about 0.5 miles further). The waterfalls suddenly seem much more pleasant as you hike down compared to earlier uphill climb, and it's hard to hold back a smile as you reach the Vernal Falls bridge where you can refill your water (there are also facilities here). About 30 minutes later you are back at the trail head where you can catch a free shuttle to your car or anywhere else in the valley (there is a concession stand near the bus stop where you can buy cold drinks and ice cream). For Half Dome Permits visit the National Park Service website, recreation.gov or call the Yosemite Park Ranger Station.

hiking
fee
no shade
rocky
1 day ago

The trail overall is awesome, I would suggest starting earlier, we set off at 6am and finished by 4pm, took 10 hours to complete. The sun hit us on the way down. Definitely wear hiking boots, poles are not a must, but bring hiking gloves, you will need them for the ropes to the summit, I got blisters. The route down is easy but still takes time because of how steep it is. Would I do this hike again? No, after seeing the views I would not put my body through that pain again, but I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend it!

hiking
2 days ago

Great hike, awesome views of the valley from the top. Took about 11 hrs to finish. Any new hikers thinking that this hike beyond their level and requires 2 months of prep, you can do it. You just need to be fit and have the motivation

hiking
2 days ago

Car door to car door will be closer to 20 miles, especially if you take the Mist and John Muir Trail

hiking
bugs
fee
3 days ago

Just a note- the description says the hike is 15 miles or so but when you add in the distance from the nearest parking lot at Happy Isles to the trailhead it ended up being around 19 miles. We started around 6 AM to allow for lots of time to rest frequently since we weren’t well acclimated to the elevation and wanted to have time to eat/ move at our own pace. The cables are all about mind over matter in my opinion. As long as you’re communicating with everyone (all the people we came across were very friendly and supportive) and resting when you need to, you’ll be safe. The weather was pretty warm (in the 90s in the valley) so I drank all of my 3L of water and probably could have used more. We made it back to the lot by 8 or so. Even as tired and sore as I am now, I am very glad I did this hike!

hiking
3 days ago

Amazingly beautiful but also exhausting. Took John Muir up and most trail down. Most trail is highly trafficked so be careful. Cables are terrifying and you need gloves. If you go up cables you have to come down so keep that in mind.

hiking
3 days ago

I clocked 18.7 miles and 5900 ft vert via Strava. Start early and bring more water than you think you need, also make sure your shoes/boots are properly broken in. Don’t freak out in the cables, you can do it!

hiking
great!
rocky
5 days ago

I can't say enough good things about this hike; it is so beautiful! I miscalculated and ran out of water at the top, but luckily I had a filtration straw and came across several streams on the way down. The only drawback is the tourist who spit into his open palms, rubbed his hands together, then grabbed the cables - super gross!

hiking
great!
6 days ago

A bucket list hike, although the 360 view from Clouds Rest is probably better. Having done it twice now, use rubber gloves on the cable. I don't know why the NPS doesn't require a harness on the cables, they're pretty scary, especially coming down while you're standing around waiting for the people freaking out half-way up. If you use a harness, use a REAL harness. Some of the cinch knots I saw people concocting would tear their guts out if they ever fell. A truly magical moment to be standing on the Visor at the top.

hiking
rocky
7 days ago

Bang bang bang ! Half-dome more like full-metal jacket. This trail was blasting out your glutes, taking your lungs for a cup ride at a theme-park and testing your limits. I’m healthy but this long hike can test anyone. It was amazingly fun, and a little crazy. It was like the first time you tried sushi and thought you were developing a sophisticated palette 10/10 would recommend, also inclusion of a hot dog stand or tiki bar at Subdome would be optimal seems like the perfect place to party

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
8 days ago

Hiked Half Dome on June 7. Yosemite was completely closed off. We were allowed in for the hike. It was amazing! Yosemite was so quiet without any humans! This is my 9th time hiking it! It was easy on my body because I cross train by running and cycling.

hiking
9 days ago

Summit 10:30am 6/6/2020 what a wonderful experience being in an empty Yosemite. Entire hike to the cables I was alone. I went up the cables with nobody ahead of me or at the top but a lot of people came afterwards and all wonderful hikers. For sure the best hike ive ever done.

hiking
9 days ago

Great hike. I’ve don’t this one twice. Both times was glad I had hiking poles, as Sub Dome can be treacherous. For great photos from the cable section, I recommend a GoPro strapped to your head, as you’ll want both hands for the cables. Nitrile coated gardening/task gloves are ideal for the cables. Also, don’t trash the park! Bring your own gloves and PACK THEM OUT ALONG WITH YOUR GARBAGE!

hiking
bugs
rocky
10 days ago

BEAUTIFUL!! Not a lot of people on the cables because of COVID. Went up the Mist Trail (like a billion steps) then back down on the JMT. Armies of mosquitoes ready to eat you alive.

hiking
11 days ago

Hiked this with a group under the light of the full, summer moon a few years ago. We reached the dome at dawn. It was spectacular and a fantastic way to steer clear of summer crowds, which we encountered on our way back into The valley floor. To climb up the actual dome, I would bring a pair of suede or gardening gloves of some kind that will help provide a good grip while climbing your way up using the steel cables. It’s steep and you’ll want gloves that will help grip the cables. I was able to use gloves that had been left there. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes and minding your knees. With the rocky, granite terrain, elevation gain, and descent, it’s easy to hurt your knees if you aren’t conscious of the risk. My knees were killing me on the way down! I would also bring the usual: water, a packable jacket, and Tevas for dipping sore feet in the icy river along the trail.

hiking
11 days ago

Amazing hike. Wonderful waterfalls with lots of elevation gain. We started at 5:00 am. I recommend the early start. The cables are no joke. Bring gloves that are sticky. Leather tended to slip. The payoff is totally worth it.

hiking
13 days ago

Used my gps watch for the distance the shortest Mist trail route is 19.5 miles from Happy Isles bus stop or 20.5 miles from the closest Trailhead Parking lot. NPS always grossly underestimates distances SMH. Carry 4 liters of water per person and salty food. Great Hike, but the cables are steeper than they look. You DO NOT want to climb the domes (half and sub) if there is any chance of moisture while you are up. Permit required. Your best chance on the lottery is playing it for several week days. Lottery also gives you a good chance of choosing the weather. I did see one pair with out a permit sneak past the ranger below sub dome.

hiking
14 days ago

We hiked June 12th to 15th from Mono Meadows through LYV and Half Dome and down the Mist Trail. This was an incredible hike. Half Dome was a highlight but Illiloutte Falls, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, and all the overlooks made this an incredible experience. Highly recommend the route we did. It is easier to get than the other more popular trailheads. We had a group of 12!

hiking
14 days ago

Like this hike, spectacular view at the top. Started at 5:15 am from my truck. Took me 6hrs and some change.

hiking
fee
rocky
16 days ago

This place is amazing, make sure you start early morning 4 am would be my recommendation. It takes about 10-12 hours to complete it. The Ranger was checking the permits right before starting the cables, many people didn’t have permits and couldn’t go up to the peak.

hiking
19 days ago

One of the best trails in the lower 48. Incredible experience and views. The cables are not easy. They will be intimidating. You better bring good gloves. Sub dome is a tough stair case too. Did it 17+ in 9 hours. Some amazing spot to hang along the river. Amazing experience overall. Be careful. Bring water and know your limits. Jon Muir rocked on way back.

hiking
20 days ago

Absolutely incredible hike. Very tough (basically steady incline the entire way to Half-Dome), so worth it. The trail is well-marked and in great condition. One of the best hikes I’ve ever done.

hiking
21 days ago

Four of us hiked Half Dome on Thursday, 6/11. Got permit in the pre-season lottery. We started hike from parking lot about half mile from Happy Isles at 7 a.m. We reached the top at 12:40, and got back to car at 8. Around 12 hours, and we clocked per Huawei 18.6 miles. Not everyone in our group was in good shape and didn't do any hikes in last 4 months due to COVID and so the hike felt strenuous, we didn't had wilderness permit so decided to go for the one day hike. But I won't suggest one day hike if you are not in good shape or haven't hiked in a while as this hike is continuous elevation gain with very small flat sections, the best way do this hike would be to stay overnight at Little Yosemite Valley Camp and do the rest of the hike from there and then back to Valley floor. Very few people on Cables as only few of the permit holders showed up due to COVID concerns. It took around 25 mins to go from base of Sub-dome to Sub-dome and then around 15-20 on Cables to top of the Half-dome. Views are unparalleled and this was surely the best hike I have ever done. Also on way back, I would suggest taking JMT instead of Mist Trail though JMT is longer, as descending down on rocks (specially the Nevada Fall descend) is super tiring on knees after a long day of hike and JMT would tire you less.

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