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Half Dome Trail

HARD 378 reviews
#2 of 145 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
34 seconds ago

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
7 days ago

Awesome hike! I've been to the top of Half Dome 7 times, used to be my annual birthday trek. I hate the cables at the end, though, always makes me a little nervous. But it is better now with the permits because you don't have to worry as much about ill-prepared people attempting it and being right in front of you on the cables. Start early-- before dawn. My best was about 6 1/2 hours round trip, but 8 is more normal if you take pictures and hang out up top for a bit. I recommend going up the Mist Trail, then back down the John Muir Trail.

rock climbing
7 days ago

It was amazing experience! Enjoyed every minute !

13 days ago

15 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

Very difficult hike, however it was absolutely worth it. About every 2 miles or so, there is a slight change of scenery: Waterfalls, forest trails, snowy paths, etc. The view from the summit is completely breathtaking. There is a small amount of snow about the last mile before half dome, making sub-dome more difficult to hike up, but the cables on half dome are completely snow and ice free. Overall amazing experience!!

19 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

Hardest trail I've done so far. 19 miles and 12 hrs to complete. Considering I did get lost on my way up lol

hiking
24 days ago

breathtaking!!
i hope to make it back and take my time this time around.
camp one night

hiking
24 days ago

Second hike up on 04 April, 2017. The last 1.5 miles to the base of subdome was over snow, with lots of post-holing. The subdome ascent was straight up a snow wall. The cables were buried in ice about ¾ the way up the face. Still one of my all-time favorite hikes. :)

hiking
25 days ago

Have hiked this 3 times over the years, always within one day. Permits now required to summit. Still quite a bit of snow, cables were not up yet for the season when I was there almost two weeks ago. Standard repertoire for Yosemite hikers, one of my all time favorites. Incredible views and photo ops from the summit. Train hard and get an early start. Have encountered bears along the way up, be cautious.

hiking
25 days ago

For those who have gone up recently, can you tell me whether there was any snow on the way up to the cables? Are the cables now free from ice?

27 days ago

It was an experience of a life time! Made it all the way to the cables but could not go up the cables because of an injury but will do it again someday, that's for sure. I did it in a day and came down at night. Next time I will camp out.

hiking
1 month ago

Such a rewarding hike! Loved every minute of it!

hiking
1 month ago

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

1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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.

1 month ago

1 month ago

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