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Half Dome Trail

HARD 880 reviews
#2 of 234 trails in

Half Dome Trail is a 14.8 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 is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, and nature trips and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 14.8 miles Elevation Gain: 5,164 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

forest

partially paved

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

no dogs

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
1 day ago

Hey guys! Your friendly neighborhood zombie here, looking for 1 permit. Anytime any day no preference. PLEASE email me if any of you have an extra one. Will compensate you with monies AND perhaps a super awesome high five too haha. THANKS !!! Oh yea please email or DM me :) Ig: Zombeeena zombeenatina@gmail.com

hiking
2 days ago

Challenging one for a beginner like me. Take it slow and you will get to the top. The payoff at the end is worth it.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 days ago

I read so many reviews before completing this hike, and man.... I don’t know if people are just in amazing shape or by the time they write their review they forget to mention how physically draining this hike is! Forget the cables, they were a breeze. I bought some $3 gloves in Walmart that fit a bit loose but had a good grip, going down obviously was easier then going up. Just make sure you don’t move until you know you can stop at a place where you can rest your feet securely. What exhausted me was the uphill and constant scramble on rocks, especially the last 3 miles and the sub-dome that broke my knees and made me feel like I couldn’t go on! We started up the John Muir Trail at roughly 7:30am- that’s the way my friend who has completed Half Dome and the hike 9 times chose to go, to by-pass the steep rock steps up the Mist Trail. The hike is long and there is beautiful scenery 80% of the way. My backpack that I specifically chose for this hike felt like it was more then 50 pounds half way through, and made my steps heavy and made my neck hurt and feel stiff. I always considered myself to be in fairly good shape from being active my whole life, but this hike sure proved me wrong! Going down with knees that felt like they were swollen and every bend and incline was brutal. If I ever attempt this hike again, I am going to get an even smaller pack to fit only my water and some snacks for the way. Make sure I have a big dinner, eat a hearty breakfast (because I think I over exerted myself BIG TIME) and did not have enough in me so I got dizzy two times once at the beginning and once almost at the top of the cables (a friend helped me by giving me his lightweight black sunglasses to counter act the whiteness from the dome and the sun), and do some big time elliptical and stair climbing cardio for at least 4 months before! Oh and also start by 4am so I can have some rest time to recharge! I said “Never again!” But I think I will, I’ll just be better prepared ;) Also, their were Rangers who checked everyone’s permits with IDs. They will let you take someone’s extra permit but will not let you go up without one. We met dozens of groups who tried to go up without permits but they all got denied. Be warned.

hiking
2 days ago

Headed up with our permit for 6 on Monday 7-29. Stoked for the trip. Will report back afterwards.

hiking
2 days ago

Hiked the cables on July 14th - 30km in 12 hours. It was one of the best experiences of my life! We started at 5am, got to the top at 10am, stayed at the top until 12pm, and then got back to the parking lot at 5pm. The hike isn’t “difficult”, it’s “strenuous” or “enduring”. My biggest piece of advice is DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE ANGLE AT WHICH YOU’LL BE CLIMBING UP/DOWN THE CABLES - I’m a 23 year old male who isn’t afraid of heights and I found it quite scary during the first 2/3 of the way up (and last 2/3 of the way down) the cables. The ranger tells you this as well, but just know your limits - there are some unsettling moments on the cables where you realize that if you slipped and lost grip you would die. 1. YOU NEED GLOVES. We had gardening gloves but I wish we would have had a material that sticks better to the metal cables. People without gloves were slipping because of the sweat on their hands. THERE IS NO BOX OF EXTRA GLOVES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CABLES. 2. YOU NEED SHOES WITH A DECENT GRIP. I was wearing my Nike training shoes and was sliding down the rock at a few points. If you don’t have fancy shoes with lots of grip then it’s not absolutely necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on new shoes, but just make sure you have SOME grip. 3. BRING A WATER FILTER. We hiked up with a 3L water pack in our bags but ran out of water at the top of half dome. On our way down we filled up at the river but ran out of water again by the time we got to the parking lot. Normally I do not drink a lot of water but trust me you will drink a lot of water on this hike (especially for a hot summer day in July). 4. START EARLY. We started at 5am but wished we would’ve started earlier (maybe 3am or 4am) because of the heat on the way down. Don’t worry about ‘missing’ the waterfalls on the way up because of the dark - you will come down the same path on the way back and the lighting will be perfect to take pictures of the falls then. 5. BRING SUNSCREEN. Seems like a no brainer but the sun just roasted us on the way down lol.

hiking
2 days ago

Not a hard hike, but the cables are always fun and very unique. I did the cables without gloves this time around and that was perfectly fine.

hiking
3 days ago

we will be in Yosemite Aug,22-24 and have 4 permits for Aug 23 we are looking for 2 additional permits. any one with extra please email me at californialovesolis710@gmail.com we will gladly pay for the 2 extra and your 2

hiking
4 days ago

Awesome trail where you can truly appreciate the greatness of Mother Nature: waterfalls, granite domes and gorgeous trees. The steep climb on the cable at the end is a true highlight for topping out on the summit. Very highly recommended.

hiking
5 days ago

My friends and I are doing Half Dome hike July 17th. We need more permits. If anyone is selling permits please email me yumipoobear@yahoo.com. Thanks!

hiking
6 days ago

awesome...start early

hiking
6 days ago

Awesome and exhilarating iconic hike. The cable portion of the was the icing on the cake!

hiking
6 days ago

hiking
6 days ago

Got cable permit again this year... read someone’s review about being on top at night so we decided to do the hike at night. We left the trailhead parking at 1030p and were on top of Half Dome at 4a. Sunrise was pretty good. We took Mist trail up and down. The only thing that sucked is the morning crowd going up to Vernal and Nevada falls clog up the trail. However, experiencing Vernal Falls at night and the morning is pretty cool. My last trip I did Mist up and Muir down; much better for avoiding the crowds. My biggest recommendations are to turn off your headlamps at rest breaks and enjoy the night sky and quiet. Also, stop midway up the cables and turn off for a really eerie experience. Btw... there was actually a Ranger checking for cable permits this time.

hiking
6 days ago

I did this trail in Nov of '17 and there was a freak rain storm that rolled through. I was already at the trail-head, I had on rain gear, and when you're at the Half-dome trail-head, you're not not gonna go up to Half-dome so I said, "F*&k it" and went on up. The rain made it super fun, like a slip-and-slide when walking up or down of the stairs of rocks! The best part about the storm was that there was only 4 other people on the trail so I pretty much had the trail to myself the whole way up. The trail was actually pretty nice after Vernal Falls if I recall correctly and was sandy before you get to the bottom of Half-dome, then its dirt and back to rock steps. It was all good as it let me spider-man it all the way to where the cables would have been and had me holding on for dear life as the 20-30 MPH winds came whipping around the corners trying to blow me off the mountain. The beautiful, 360 degree view of Alpine fog made up for it though. Lastly, my rain gear proved to be more soak-you-to-the-core gear and I was pretty sure I heard thunder (but saw no lightning) so I ran all the way back down. All sarcasm aside, I would give this trail a 10/10 if I could and do it again in any weather. Maybe next time I'll go when its packed with snow.

hiking
7 days ago

Bf and I are going to be in Yosemite July 11, 12, and 13. We were planning on using the daily lottery to try to get a permit but our camp site at Sequoia had no service so we didn’t enter the first two days on time. We would loooove to do this while in the park we are willing to buy two permits off anyone for those days! Email is svisnack@yahoo.com Thanks so much!

hiking
no shade
7 days ago

Definitely the hardest hike I’ve ever been on- but I’d absolutely only ever do it again with a harness and a carabiner. It’s insane to me that the park service doesn’t require harnesses and carabiners on the cable section of half dome. I did this hike last year and someone fell off a month before I got there. It’s a beautiful but fear evoking climb to the top. I’d only do this hike again with a harness and carabiner. Be safe!

hiking
8 days ago

I am planning to go End of July or Aug. if someone has permit for 3 people on 26th or 27th July or 23rd or 24th Aug. Please DM me at zeeshanchaudhry66@gmail.com. Excited for trail!!

hiking
8 days ago

Did this on July 9th. 18.1 miles total - we took the John Muir Trail back- longer but prettier in the beginning. Cables are HARD. No photo or video really comes close the actual experience.

hiking
bugs
rocky
9 days ago

Epic hike for those who are mindful and aware that it takes training to ensure you will go the distance, pull through an almost 5,000ft elevation gain, and what can I say — conquer the cables! We started at 4:30a from the Trailhead Parking, arrived at the cables at 11:30a. There was an hour delay on the cables which worked out in my favor because I got to rest in between climbing the 10ft rungs (no carabiners). We got back at 7:30p (we ran out of water and food after the Dome and it affected our energy on the way back). ***Side note: we didn’t heed the warnings from the rangers about leaving backpacks unattended at the summit— a squirrel got into our food and they carry diseases so.. we’d rather be safe than sorry and didn’t get to eat our remaining food.*** The hike starts uphill, multiple flights of stairs at Vernal Falls (aka Mist Trail), more at the Nevada Falls, and lots more uphills. When you think there will be no more uphills after flatlands, there is a scramble up subdome in the form of switchbacks to greet you, then the cables of course. I underestimated the behemoth that is this “day” hike. AllTrails says it is 14.8, I HIGHLY disagree with that. From Trailhead parking and some walking around at the summit, the hike totaled 20 miles. So be mindful of that. Phenomenal, unparalleled views though at the top, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that this girl will not be repeating again. 3+ liters of water and/or water filter of some sort, food, trekking poles, shoes with good grip, bug spray, hat/sunscreen, waterproof jacket, and a can-do attitude will go a long way.

hiking
9 days ago

Absolutely amazing hike. Going again as a last minute trip at the end of this month. Boyfriends never been. If anyone has 2 permits available for July 30-August 5 that they wont be using let me know. Spica1225@aol.com I'll pay you of course :]

hiking
bugs
no shade
9 days ago

Phenomenal hike!!! The key is in the preparation. It goes without saying that you will need permits, but make sure you also bring plenty of water. We brought along a water pump and were so thankful that we did. Bring sunscreen and some insect repellent as well as enough food to sustain you throughout the day. We started at 4:30 AM and, after taking numerous breaks, reached the cables at 11:15. There were no gloves located at the bottom of the cables and I can’t imagine doing the cables without them. I’m sure if you are reading this, then you are also looking at the topography of the hike. Studying that and the various comments helped tremendously when planning a start time and (more importantly) a turn around time. The view from the top is unbelievable and the sense of accomplishment for a couple of middle aged, slightly out of shape parents was well worth it. Good luck and happy trails!

hiking
10 days ago

Great trail. Try early and often to get the permit. It took me three days of trying to get two passes, and I was checked by a ranger on the way back. For the hike, I took off from Half Dome Village around 2:30 am got to the summit around 7:00, and then with some trail running I got back by 11:00 am. For the cables, I recommend gloves and if you are unsure of your abilities, then I would consider a harness and carabiners to strap on.

hiking
bugs
no shade
10 days ago

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
10 days ago

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