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Half Dome Trail

HARD 364 reviews
#2 of 144 trails in

Half Dome Trail is a 15.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite National Park, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, camping, and birding and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
15.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5652 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

camping

hiking

rock climbing

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Half Dome is a serious endurance hike taking you 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. Preparation and safety are key and you'll have 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 4800 feet of elevation gain is very strenuous, starting with steep climb in the beginning to Vernal Falls (1.5m, 2.4km), followed by another steep climb to the top of Nevada Falls (3.4m, 5.5km). 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 (11.2km) 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 hike is the ascent up the cables. The two metal 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). More info here: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm

hiking
1 day ago

Such a rewarding hike! Loved every minute of it!

hiking
2 days ago

any more recent reports on snow ? Tome Cole or anyone else who has gone up recently?

9 days ago

My favorite all time hike ever! In my 60 years I have been on top 21 times. #22 coming June 2017.

hiking
20 days ago

Great Hike but be warned. No need to give the usual blurb as everyone else we know its fantastic up there.
Start early because the last 2 miles are snow covered and soften up early making it harder work than necessary. Micro spikes or crampons will help early on. Cables are still down but with a harness & Prusik Knot you can ascend the cables 3/4 of the way up this is where you would probably stop, after this point the cables are under ice and the snow and ice above this area are not safe to climb both unstable layers and still very steep. On return by 11 am every step was a good post hole but snow shoes wouldn't have been worth the extra weight.
Hope this helps for some info as the rangers were not so helpful, due to heavy snow pack it will be some time before the cables are free and its safe to climb to the top.

20 days ago

21 days ago

Such an amazing hike, one of my all time favorites.

hiking
22 days ago

24 days ago

Hard trail but worth it, expect all up hill when going up, I recommend training on a stair master, my first hike great views, and bring a lot of water

hiking
25 days ago

Depending on where you start-it's over 15 miles FYI. Start before 5, have a head lamp, layer clothes, take lots and lots of water, gloves for the cables are a must! If you're not a hiker, train at least a little. Yea, I saw little kids doing it but they have stamina like rabbits. If your 30+ do some training haha. If your scared of heights like me...take a few minutes to cry when you get to the cables and then just do it and look at nothing but the rock in front of you. Worth every minute I stressed. It's a great accomplishment.

1 month ago

Absolutely a must!

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

One of the best experiences outdoors. Be prepared with gloves, a lot of water and some energy packed food. Will definitely come back.

1 month ago

Did not disappoint !

1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Did this tail with best freidn in 2014. amazing views on top of the dome, where we spent about 3 hours taking photos.. We didn't get up that early so we were able to take the shuttle to trail heads, and came back just at sunset.
How I miss you.

2 months ago

2 months ago

Sweet

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

My longest day hike so far. Did this in 2007. Took me almost 13 hours. went with friends, and we spent lot of time taking pictures for the first few hours. Coming down from Nevada falls via Mist trail was a bad idea. Painful for knees. If I go next time, I'd do this at 2 day trip, camping first night at little yosemite valley.

hiking
2 months ago

One on my favorite hikes ever. Did it by myself and without permit (I don't suggest this), but I was able to go up without any issues. Very strenuous hike and be careful with amount of water you take. Even on a colder day it will require a lot of water.