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Half Dome Trail

HARD 798 reviews
#2 of 230 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 and rock climbing and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
14.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5,164 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

hiking

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 (there is usually a large pile of gloves at the base that you can borrow for the climb up, but you might want to bring your own just in case). 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
in 1 month

We plan to do this on June 28th, we are in need of 3 permits. If anyone can spare 1 or 2, or 3 permits, can you email me at czhu2016@gmail.com, please? Thanks a lot!!!

hiking
in 1 month

I am doing this hike on June 29. I have an extra permit for anyone that would like to hike the trail with me. my insta gram is ryanplumer or email at ryanp2205@gmail.com

hiking
6 hours ago

Hello, I am looking for a permit for July 31 or August 1 or 2. If someone has one my email is iperezinigo@uc.cl. Many thanks!!

hiking
20 hours ago

My girlfriend and I are looking for 2 permits for July 5, 6 or 7th. If you have any please email at ortiz.hj@gmail.com. Thanks so much!!

4 days ago

Managed to do it in 2017 and it is an awesome experience. Well worth the effort. Flying from Europe to try again on the 29th of June 19. If anyone has a spare permit plse message me via Instagram account txopobat.

7 days ago

Completed the hike to the top of Half Dome in June 2018, 2 weeks before my 65th birthday, with my wife and daughter. Without question it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Having said that, probably won't do it again, though...

7 days ago

Really, really wanting to do this trail- didn't win the lottery this year but will try again for a short notice permit. For anyone with an extra permit looking for a partner, I'll be able to hike either May 28th or 29th. If this peaks anyone's interest, shoot me an email at huntsmith3683@gmail.com. instagram: smittsmitt85 Thanks!

9 days ago

I am hiking this trail with my boyfriend on June 27th -i have 2 extra spots on my permit, email me if interested Jenny.somma@gmail.com

hiking
9 days ago

Looking for a permit and someone to make this trip with on June 19th or 20th. Let me know! ramboand@gmail.com

hiking
10 days ago

Hi! I am doing half dome July 23, 2019 and looking for an extra permit. Please email me if you have one or know of someone with an extra permit. Thanks! dkpetersen15@gmail.com

hiking
11 days ago

Anyone have an extra permit and planning to go sometime first week of June? Solo hiker looking to link up with someone and do this

hiking
11 days ago

Anyone have an extra permit? Solo hiker looking to link up with someone and do this. just tell me what date.

15 days ago

I did this 3 years ago. Challenging and beautiful. Worth every step!

hiking
17 days ago

@Brent North, i did half dome 4 days ago. There was snow before the cables for sure but i made it with just regular hiking shoes and nothing else. However the hike before the cables in the snow was extremely tough!

hiking
23 days ago

For those who have gone recently, would you mind giving your estimate of the deepness of the snow by the time you get to the base of quarter dome (steps leading up the rock until you get to the cables)? I'm heading up in mid-May and am trying to guess whether I'll need crampons and ice axe.

hiking
30 days ago

I always think the assessment of the trail difficulty is on the safer side but nope this is definitely difficult! Did the hike yesterday and I’m just laying down all day today mostly due to the snow. For the most part the stairs near the waterfalls are difficult but doable, what got me was the last 1.5miles to half dome. It’s a few feet of heavy snow and my legs were completely gassed. Follow the previously made foot path so you don’t get lost some people have gone their own way but it’s easy to tell the tracks of a couple versus a larger group. I reached a nice open point and turned back, others were using the snow to go actually up half dome or to where the cables start when in season but I had used a lot more water than I thought and was beyond tired from the snow and decided it was safer to take in my view but stop about a half mile to the dome and turn around. On the way down I did lose the trail at times, there are downed trees and a lot of run off around the half dome fork area so it can be difficult to find the trail but if you actually follow the run off you can find the path. Make sure to pack sun screen and polarized sunglasses it’s very bright in the snow and I am very burned from where I missed applying, even my lips were burned. The path clockwise from Nevada falls is closed so I had to take the steps back down and that was hard but it being later in the day there weren’t people going up the path to battle against so that was nice. The whole thing from where I turned around with my mini detours took 9hours for the 17.25miles and 4295ft in elevation I hiked. I would love to do this again with no snow

hiking
off trail
rocky
1 month ago

All though Yosemite is a beautiful place for hiking and camping it’s not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like heights this isn’t for you. Several trails to choose from and each trail offers a different view. I hike mostly by myself and I prefer it that way so I can take everything in around me. Lots of good people to meet along the trails. Great camping spots! Take the proper provisions, first aid and clothing. Check the weather before you head out on the trails weather can change quickly. Be safe

hiking
1 month ago

No fooling this is a hard hike, if you are in good shape no problem as a 20 something my friends and I started at 8am and were down around 6 pm. That’s when I fell in love!! Nowadays at 42 I am training for it...but I am still in fairly good shape so not to worried. Take a water filter, and food or high protein snacks, also some type of cards for quick energy. Enjoy the views!! I will be taking my 11 and 14 year old up this year! Heights don’t bother me but I don’t think my husband will ever go up the rock again...lol!

1 month ago

Best hike ever!

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike June 29, 2018. We left at 5:58am. Did not get back until 9:30pm. I am not in the best shape but did train for this. Although not very fast, I have done quite a few half-marathons and a handful of very steep 1,000 feet straight up in a compacted one mile ascent to Pincushion Peak just to prepare for this. Saying that this hike is strenuous gives it no justice. It is beyond strenuous if there’s a word for that. I don’t know about others, but for me personally, the reason it was so hard for me, the weight of food and water I had to carry throughout this hike. Smart people brought water filtration systems. Since we did not have that, we each carried about 3 to 4 liters of water. Which was completely depleted as we ended the hike. So you do need that much water. That alone is heavy just walking a mile down the street. I had to carry that with food up 5,000 feet trekking 8 miles straight up. Water fill station was closed that day due to a recent flood. We had permits for 5 for a party of 7. When we got to the sub-dome, a wilderness ranger was checking in hikers with permits. Luckily, there were a few hikers who opted out so we were able to use their permits. Which wasn’t necessary because after scaling the dome before half-dome, one look up the cables and 4 members of our group retreated. Two didn’t even try; one felt light headed just looking up; the other person began until he reached a section where the steepness increased and shook his head saying,” I’m not about to die today.” At last, three of us continued. Yes, gloves shouldn’t be recommended but required. By the time we got to the top, we took very few photos because we were already so exhausted from the climb. Just when we felt relieved for making it to the top, it dawned on us we had another 8 miles back. Respect this trail. Prepare yourselves. The view was fantastic. Will I go back, NO! It’s been crossed out of my bucket list and never shall I return to this. Yes, I felt like crying a couple of times.

2 months ago

This is not for the faint of heart. Definitely it’s my favorite hike. But I think AllTrails has Half Dome marked as another trail as well.

hiking
2 months ago

Visit my Youtube Channel: Melissa DC Gomez to see my Half Dome hike video... https://youtu.be/GiJUN6CLmSY https://youtube.com/MelissaDCGomez Share some love

hiking
2 months ago

I’m 62 and I did this hike with two 26 yr olds and two 36 yr olds last Sept. We started at 5am and got to the top of Half Dome by 12pm. I learned a few things from my experience. If you are under the age of 40 you will have no problem with the hike . Though It will be a challenge. If you are older, make sure to train on a stair stepper. Prehydrate the day before your hike with 2L of water. The day of the hike, Take at least 4 liters of water and some food. I only ate half my food but drank all my water. I thought the sub dome was the hardest but take your time. The 400ft up Half Dome was easy for me , I’m not afraid of heights and I used a carabiner and gloves. Put your water bottles, phone, hat, and anything you don’t want to loose , INSIDE your backpack before going up the cables . We left our hiking poles at the bottom with no problem. We stayed up on the dome for an hour. On the way down we were stopped at the JMT sign where a ranger was checking permits. There wasn’t anyone checking permits up until that point. So be sure to have one. On one of our breaks going back down we waded in the cold river. Very refreshing! We took the Mist trail up and the JMT down. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. We lucked out with the weather . It was cool but sunny. This was definitely the hardest hike I’ve ever done but worth it. I’d do it again if the opportunity presented itself.

hiking
3 months ago

Made it to sub dome and a train of people were coming of half dome said a storm was coming in, so we went back down. Disappointing but a good choice because the granite gets slick. Amazing amazing hike worth every step! The view are special. Sitting down eating lunch with a beautiful view and the sounds of a crashing waterfall is hard to beat. Crowded until you get past Nevada falls then it thins out tremendously. Went in early may so there were no boards to help on the cables, but very little people on the cables seems like a more than fair trade. Definitely want to go again!

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked Half Dome July 2018. Views are breathtaking from start to finish! Got to the top just before the sun came up....highly recommend getting to the top to watch the sunrise!! Epic

hiking
3 months ago

Breathtaking views, long hike but well worth the effort

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike with amazing views on a clear day if you're in excellent shape no matter your age. Only warning --- watch out for little kids, (like cub & boy scouts), who RUN DOWN the slick rock where the cables are. They lose control and have knocked down a few hikers coming up. Also, I've seen groups coming up the cables hanging onto the cables and each other. If you're afraid of heights look straight ahead and avoid looking to the left or right, because there's no focal point and you may get the sensation that you will fall off. Otherwise, it's well worth the effort! :-)

hiking
4 months ago

Must do at least once. I've done it 2.9 times (don't chicken if you are like me, because you'll be back again to finish what you started) and it is indescribable. This last time, in August 2018, I spent the rest of our time in the Valley pointing to the top and telling my husband, "Hey, we were up there on Tuesday morning!!". First two times, we started at 4 AM and made it up to the cables after 10 AM. There was a lot of traffic, and for this acrophobe, it just made things worse. However, once you summit the sub dome, the cables look IMPOSSIBLE. Get right up to them and you'll see it isn't as straight up as you think. I think having carabiners to clip yourself in just to ease your mind a bit is a great idea, though I've done it without each time. A couple tricky spots, but if you keep things one plank at a time, you'll get there. In August, my husband and I started at 12 AM. Once we got to the mist trail, I realized we left our gloves in the car (get decent work gloves from Home Depot or somewhere similar as they will work WONDERFULLY for the cables; you need the grip). Had to trek back so we finally started before 1 AM. Hiking in the dark was rough. Took the mist trail up as usual. We reached the pre-dome at sunrise and made it to the top at about 7:30. Absolutely gorgeous. Cables will likely exhaust you, so get ready for a long trip down. We got back to the parking lot (took the mist trail down, though I would recommend the Muir trail down if your knees are in agony; I just wanted my husband to see the falls) at about 1 PM, so it took 12 hours in all, which was the same as the previous trips. Slept for a looooong time after that.

4 months ago

Loved this hike! We split this up into two days so we could camp in little Yosemite valley.

hiking
4 months ago

Such an awesome hike! Definitely recommend! Make sure that you bring gloves that can grip the cables if you plan on going to the summit!

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