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Snow Creek Falls Trail [CLOSED]

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Yosemite National Park

Snow Creek Falls Trail is a 20.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

Distance: 20.2 miles Elevation Gain: 5,387 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

closed

no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. The Snow Creek Falls Trail starts about a mile from one of Yosemite Valley's most popular destinations, Mirror Lake or Mirror Meadow as it is now known. This hike is on par with the hike to the top of Yosemite Falls, so it shouldn't be taken lightly. The views rising above Tenaya Canyon are not to be missed.

hiking
2 months ago

This trail has amazing views!! But I couldn’t finish it because it is near impossible with all the switchbacks! I will go back and attempt to finish it, but it will probably take a few tries!

hiking
3 months ago

Wow, wow, wow! What an amazing trail. It was already great to simply do the loop on the ground around Mirror Lake and the meadow, but going up those switchbacks, seeing the entire canyon down below and mountains like Half Dome and Cloud's Rest right opposite of you, made this simply special. There are also *no* people in that latter half of the lake loop and the Snow Creek section (at least not when I was there). While I did this in late February, it was - as most of the Yosemite Valley and its surroundings - snowless and warm.

hiking
4 months ago

Incredible views of half dome and clouds rest from a different perspective. No crowds. It’s a must do!

snowshoeing
snow
5 months ago

Broke first fresh tracks of the season the entire way up today...only soul on the trail...my kind of day! Strapped on the shoes for the switches. Mid-calf deep on the walk in and first ~100m, knee(-) deep starting around 1500m, knee(+) deep from 1700m on up to the bridge. 4h40m to the bridge from Mirror Lake Bus Stop, had a snack in a brief spot of sun on the bridge before turning around and then 2h20m on the way out. Only a few sun-fucted patches, otherwise super stable snow. Had a break in the clouds for a few decent pics around 1500m on both ascent and descent...was rather socked in for the higher parts. Pretty sure I lost a part of the trail on the flat at the top en route to the bridge, if you follow my tracks watch out for a bit of a well after crossing a noticeable deadfall...I had a nice face plant. One of the most strenuous hikes I've ever done, yet still top 10 in my favs for sure...even if I spend the next day+ in cramp city.

hiking
rocky
6 months ago

Thank goodness for the alltrails map. We hiked a total of 25 miles. exhausted and fatigued. beautiful scenery. Took 1 mile to get pass mirror lake. Then we started our trail . first hour or so was easy/moderate. after about 3 hours had intense uphill hike, and strenuous. for the most part very easy to follow trail if you have the all trails app. Definitely needed when you have no service. There was multiple times where the road would split and signs would point in different directions to different trails but would not say snow creek. A few times trail disappeared due to debri and fallen trees. I highly recommend to go early! we started at 8 am took several small short breaks and didn't finish till almost 630 ish . Not fun hiking downhill on cliffs in pitch black. ( Bring a flashlight!)

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Used this map to hike from Olmsted point to The Valley Floor only. Be advised - it is easy to get lost where I marked the blue arrow ( in photos ). A well used trail turns to the left in front of a boulder, some cairns appear to mark a trail but it ends up in some bushes. I believe it leads to some bouldering sites. Stay to the right of that boulder, make sure you stay below HWY 120 for a while ( you can hear cars and people), otherwise you may be misled into the Tenaya Canyon...

backpacking
10 months ago

We hiked out of the valley using the Snow Creek trail as part of a 40 mile backpacking loop. The Snow Creek climb from the valley is very steep and tough, but the views of Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon are awesome. If you are up for a big climb, I highly recommend this trail. It is also one of the more easy trailheads to get a backpacking permit for. There are a bunch of photos of the trail in my trip report here: https://backpackers-review.com/trip-reports/yosemite-valley-backpacking/

hiking
rocky
washed out
11 months ago

Started at Mirror Lake but ended up on the flooded trail on one side of lake prior to Snow Creek trailhead. We.had to find higher ground several times before footbridge...set us back 20 minutes.. Snow Creek trail itself was quite steep but a good workout & excellent views all along switchbacks. Views from top were anticlimactic in our opinion. Started at Mirror Lake before 6am & back at parking lot by 1pm. We saw only a dozen people on actual Snow Creek trail.

hiking
11 months ago

from Awahnee to snow creek footbridge, back to awahnee

hiking
Wed May 08 2019

My favorite trail from the Valley floor due to the amazing views every step of the way. Pretty strenuous and not “famous” like the hike to Half Dome so you will not be bothered by the crowds! The creek after the switchbacks is a perfect lunch spot.

hiking
snow
Mon Apr 22 2019

Even though this trail leaves essentially from the valley floor near half dome village, it has much less traffic than most similar trails. The hike up to the top is rather strenuous, especially during the second half of the ascent. The views are incredible the entire way. You can see Illilouette Falls way off in the distance, Three Chute Falls more nearby, and (in the Spring) countless smaller falls on the face of Half Dome and along the face of the wall you're climbing. The sound of rushing water was a constant. During the Spring, much of the trail is wet with flowing snowmelt, and you have to cross multiple creeks. The area at the top once you enter the flat forest is still covered in a decent amount of snow, which makes it difficult to do much hiking once you get up. But the views from up there are great. We saw an avalanche across the canyon fall from near Quarter Domes, which was beyond cool. The entire ascent took us about 2 hours, but make us quite tired. The way down was quicker, maybe 1.5 hours.

hiking
Sun Jan 13 2019

Did this today 1/12/2018. Beautiful trail, started at sunrise at 7:15am, made it to the snow creek footbridge (~5mi in) at around 10:45am. I wanted to go beyond it but the snow was pretty deep and I didn’t bring snow shoes... so I turned around. The 5 miles or so to the bridge was on/off exposed so most of it was dirt with some small patches of ice. I wore boots but didn’t have poles, crampons or snowshoes. Best views were of looking back at Tenaya Canyon as you ascend. Also great views of Mount Watkins. Mirror lake was good in the beginning as well and partially frozen.

hiking
Sun Dec 23 2018

I did a portion of this hike on a sunny day in late December -- started in the valley on the valley loop, to Mirror Lake, connecting to Snow Creek and went up, up, up. As others have said, it's all switchbacks up. I'm in good shape and tend to hike quicker than many: Took about 2h30 to get to the footbridge. Trail was clear and dry up until the top when you enter a forest. Snow from earlier in the month was packed down and easy to walk over. Turned around after eating lunch by the creek. The trek back down to the Mirror Lake trail only took me 90mins. Views were stellar the entire way. It was a treat to watch the sun cross over the valley.

backpacking
Thu May 10 2018

day 1- ascent via snow creek trail, camped at snow creek falls ***uhh-mazing spot to sleep under the stars*** (#romanticaf, lol) / day 2- indian rock and north dome, camped at lehamite creek / day 3- descent via upper and lower yosemite falls. ~mother nature gave the gracious gift of beautiful weather during the month of may and spoiled me with various scenery: from the way the granite walls opened up the higher in elevation you climbed; to stunning treelines; to what was left of a winter wonderland with the slight patches of snow at higher elevation; to the way my cup runneth over with the waterfalls~ more solitude. major naturegasms. while clouds rest and half dome trails definitely give you the thrill, snow creek makes you work for those rewards (i found it to have more of a mental aspect), but all equal in the priceless treasures only yosemite can offer.

hiking
Mon Jan 01 2018

My second hike to North Dome, it does not disappoint. At the end of December, the trail had a few workarounds here and there but largely in good shape. The icy patches slowed us down a bit on the higher lat Snow Creek trail... not hard just slowish.

Sun Oct 22 2017

Amazing views. Not too many people. Good climb.

Sat Oct 21 2017

This is a strenuous hike, but very rewarding. We backpacked to North Dome via this trail in early October. There was no water until you reach snow creek at the top. Start early, bring plenty of water, and don't forget to look around every once in a while to enjoy the view.

Sat Jun 24 2017

You can get some good elevation and views fairly early in. Bring lots of water. We had to turn around at the first waterfall since we didn't bring enough water with us.

Sun May 28 2017

Gorgeous hike. Many people backpack up this trail. I just did an out-and-back to make it 6 mile hike round trip. Not for people afraid of heights as the numerous switchbacks up the valley wall lend steep views of the valley. Not a very difficult ascent out of the valley.

hiking
Fri May 26 2017

The NPS lists this as the most difficult trial out of the valley. 2600' elevation gain in about 2.3 miles. Yosemite Fall trail is about the same gain in 3.4 miles. On a hot day, get an early start as much of the trail is exposed on the southern facing slope. Plenty of water on the trail due to tremendous snow pack at higher elevations. A filter is lighter than carrying liters of water. After about 5500 foot elevation, look southwest for great views of Illilouette Fall. This is much less traveled than any of the other "serious" trails out of the valley. I ate lunch trailside for 30 minutes and nobody passed by going either up or down. I'm 66, in ok shape. It took me 3 hrs and 15 minutes from the Valley Loop trail junction to the footbridge over Snow Creek. It took me 2hr and 15 minutes to go back down. Many times the steps were so high that I had to stop and "think" about my foot placement. This makes for slow going. Trekking poles were extremely helpful. A word of advice for people like me - older or perhaps not in the best shape or both. Don't be intimidated by this trail. The first 30 or 40 minutes are in the trees and shady. Then you pop out above the trees and the views of Half Dome, Clouds Rest and Tenaya Canyon are amazing. You don't need to go all the way to the top to be rewarded.

hiking
Tue May 16 2017

Definitely gives you some of the most stunning views of the high country from the valley, AND the best part is the lack of people! Be prepared for an exposed climb: this hike will be very hot in the sun and you'll be gaining ~3000 ft in less than 2 miles.

Wed Mar 08 2017

Great hike up a creek. Amazing view of half dome and into the valley.

camping
Tue Feb 14 2017

full moon and nice weather amazing camping

hiking
Sun Jul 03 2016

Snow Creek runs all the way from Tenaya Lake to Yosemite Valley. We started at Olmsted point and thought we would take the rest of the trail from there to Tenaya Lake, about 1.6 miles, starting at the Olmsted Point Scenic View - the short trail to a better vista of Cloud's Rest and Half Dome. We found an off-trail route down the back side of the vista to get back on the Snow Creek Trail by just going toward Tenaya Lake and navigating the ledges. Once on the trail it was very flat and below the Tioga Road, not very interesting. We reached a very pretty meadow and were instantly attacked by a mosquito swarm. From there we ran along the flat trail toward Tenaya Lake and safety. Make sure you carry bug spray during early June when the mosquitoes emerge! Don't recommend hiking Snow Creek this direction. Next time will hike down from Olmsted to the Valley where the trail connects to Tenaya Canyon Trail.

camping
Tue Aug 11 2015

Started this trail from the top at the 120 trailhead, and took the junction to loop over to Tenaya Lake/Clouds Rest trailhead. From the top it's a very manageable trail. When starting out, you might be inclined to follow the road toward the quarry, but the trail is actually up on the bank to the right. We saw a young bear at the junction to Tenaya Lake when we stopped for lunch, so bring your bells!

hiking
Sat May 16 2015

Moderate??? This was the hardest trail I've ever hiked! Gorgeous, but wow, so straight up

hiking
Thu Feb 26 2015

running
Wed Oct 17 2012

Did this as the first section of my Yosemite Valley North Rim traverse in October 2012. Fantastic trail, excellent views (illuminated by a nearly full moon). Didn't see a single person on the trail (however I started up at 4:45am). Pretty difficult, especially when you start feeling the altitude at 6500ft or so. I counted 108 switchbacks. The major climb is about 3 miles long, managed to do it in just under an 1hour 30 minutes.

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