Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

HARD 543 reviews
#3 of 157 trails in

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is a 5.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Mariposa, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and birding and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
5.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3323 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

trail running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

Enjoy the thrilling views of looking down from the top of Yosemite Fall. Yosemite Fall, dropping 2,425 feet to the bottom of the valley from the top, is one of the most visited places in Yosemite National Park. The fall consists of three sections: upper falls, middle cascade and lower falls. While most people visit lower falls only, upper falls is definitely worthy of visiting for its eye-opening views and hiker's self-satisfaction of reaching it. The trail to Upper Yosemite Fall is about 3 miles one way, gaining approximately 3,000 feet in elevation along the way. Once you get to the top of the valley, you can go to Yosemite Fall Overlook, a small platform near the mouth of Upper Yosemite Fall, to enjoy the thrilling views of looking down from above. The trailhead is located in the Sunnyside campground (Camp 4) near Yosemite Lodge. In essence, the hike can be divided into sections as the following: from the trailhead to Columbia Rock, from Columbia to the lower gate, from the lower gate to the upper gate and from the upper gate to the overlook. It generally takes 6 - 8 hours for average hikers to complete the roundtrip hike. The trail is generally open for the whole year, but can be difficult to hike in winter due to snow, especially beyond Columbia Rock.

hiking
1 day ago

Wow!! Extreme workout but totally worth it the whole way!! Take lots of water. Wear a bug net and spray. Be prepared for an afternoon thunderstorm!! At the top, go left for swimming holes! Go right to the lookout and go down the stairs, at the bottom of the handrail, go right. It is a very steep, narrow and scary staircase with handrails. It leads to a platform at the mouth of the falls!! Breathtaking!! Have fun!!

hiking
2 days ago

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4 days ago

backpacking
4 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

Go all the way!!! Lower falls is nice, but upper falls is amazing. It's not all that hard to make the last leg for the upper falls.

It may or may not be legal to swim in, but the pool at the top of the falls is a beautiful place. -Sort of a pool with a VIEW.

hiking
5 days ago

You can't park at camp 4 without a permit, but if you go across the street there's a parking lot that you can freely park at aside from the hours of midnight-6am.

An avid hiker could do this route in 4 hours. In order to enjoy your stay I would recommend pacing and viewing everything slowly, plan about 6-7 hours here. At the highest points in Yosemite it would be a shame to not stop and take in its majesty from above. I do not recommend this hike for people with bad knees.

This is a little over 6 miles round trip. Switchbacks, switchbacks, switchbacks... If they are not things you can tolerate pack a good attitude or plan to bitch the entire way up. In addition to that, please make sure you bring at least 3 liters of water per person. I kept seeing people give up because they only brought one bottle of water. The altitude and incline will wear on you quickly. There is no refilling station at the top! Don't be stupid and unprepared!

There is on and off shading for most of the way, but it's still a good idea to start as early as you can! The bugs will attack you and your face 2/3 of the way there. Bug repellent doesn't really help, if you have long hair keep it down so they stay away from your ears, wear sunglasses to protect the eyes, and a handkerchief to keep them from being eaten. They are a part of what makes this trail difficult! LOL

If you can see the whole waterfall at one point that is your only opportunity to take it in all of its glory. You will not see it again that way until you head back down.

Once you've summit the top there are two spots to hit up immediately. To the right there is a sketchy narrow path (with railing) to take you as close to the side of the waterfall as possible. The left side requires some form of good footing to get to the pools. But it is so worth it! The water was frigid but if you don't jump in you've wasted your time climbing up! Have a sweatshirt handy as it gets cold sitting in the vicinity.

Coming back down is another story. Though your daily runners can get you up the mountain, the descent will be more troubling if you don't have good traction. Even with mid tier hiking boots I slipped several times. Smooth rocks + gravel + downhill = a bad time.

Have fun during your stay in Yosemite!

5 days ago

Absolutely beautiful scenic view on a clear day. This is a must if you are abled. Only drawback is lots of hikers. However, everyone is there for the same reason and having a peaceful adventure so can't complain.

6 days ago

It was amazing experience!!!

hiking
7 days ago

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7 days ago

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8 days ago

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8 days ago

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9 days ago

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9 days ago

9 days ago

hiking
9 days ago

Great hike! So beautiful!!!

hiking
9 days ago

Amazing views! Very steep but view from peak is incredible. Completed out and back in 4 hours. Make sure to bring hiking poles, you will thank me later.