Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

HARD 812 reviews
#3 of 203 trails in

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is a 5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Village, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
5.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3175 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

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. 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
2 hours ago

Beautiful views the whole way up!

hiking
7 days ago

hiking
8 days ago

Hiked up in 2:20. Back down in 2:10. Lots of switchbacks. Different terrain. Rock, ice, snow, wet, dirt. We started before 8 and were
The first at the top. Thought it would be busier. On the way down there were a lot of people going up.

Make sure to see the outlook. It was scary but well worth it. I am a 50 year old woman in good shape but not great. I had read a review that said just to keep going one foot in front of the other and that really worked. Bring at least 3 bottles of water. Even though the temp went from 47 to 54 it was warm with the sun.

hiking
14 days ago

We did this hike on Mother’s Day and it was awesome. A little like being on a stair master for hours, and giant mosquitos on the way down, but getting to the top was such an accomplishment!

backpacking
17 days ago

I backpacked into the backcountry through this trail and it was a monster but the lookout was amazing. The glimpses of the falls midway give a lot of encouragement. It was early April but most of the snow had melted and the falls were roaring. Great hike challenging but rewarding. People thin out about halfway through.

camping
18 days ago

The best hike ever did

20 days ago

Amazing views! Not for beginers, but totally worth the exertion :)

hiking
21 days ago

Great views of the valley, but this is a very rough hike! If you are inexperienced make sure you are well prepared, a bottle of water and a snack will not get you through this hike! We had no issues with snow today and the trails will probably be nearly clear of snow here soon!

21 days ago

Never ending staircase of doom... 4/5 stars...

hiking
1 month ago

Since I went on a day that was rainy and foggy, I missed out on a lot of views but what I did see was fantastic! Hang in there through the early switchbacks—the view is worth it. I turned around about 0.5 miles below the top as the snow and ice was getting a bit tough. Most people quit at Columbia Rock, so keep going to skip the crowds.

1 month ago

Did it on a cloudy/snowy day so I didn't get the full valley view but the waterfall is amazing. Presented a challenge for sure and breaks were definitely appreciated but it's not too horrible. Just get ready for switchbacks.

1 month ago

Great view of the valley. Tons of switch backs so be ready. Since the floor is made out of stone, it can be pretty rough on your feet.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike! Beautiful view of the waterfall, if my 9 year old can do it...so can you! Didn’t make the last five minutes of it due to the snow on the hill face, didn’t have the proper shoes. Still got an awesome view of the falls!

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike a day after completing half dome hike (worth it for the views/my legs hated me). The switch back stair cases seemed to drag on forever and there are a few declines. Be aware that these staircases are pretty brutal for most (lots of people give up). Started early to get views of the sunrise from the top of the waterfall. I want to say it took roughly 2 hours to summit (I ended up going up to Yosemite Point after the sunrise). Great views from the top of the waterfall!

Check out and follow Instagram.com/gregszymbor for photos and other hikes!

hiking
1 month ago

Crampons/yak tracks are smart, snowshoes in some places are almost required. Breaking trail this morning had a few slide spots, but was clear and slick by the afternoon! 10/10 would recommend, be prepared and for the love of god don’t wear your vans skate shoes

hiking
1 month ago

Difficult yet rewarding. 3.5 mile uphill climb (with a couple spits of downhill) containing the most gorgeous views. Starts near Camp 4, so you get to see all the climbers before you start, and the top has a beautiful view of Yosemite valley to sit in awe at. The return 3.5 miles wasn’t terrible but encouraged me to buy trekking poles for my knees. Hiking this was my favorite day of 2018.

1 month ago

Most difficult hike I’ve ever done. Holy moly! To date, I’ve completed it three times- each time was different. The summit has the most amazing views on the planet, imho. The crazy little staircase right next to the falls were reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie. As an added bonus, some crazy SOBs were slack lining over the falls.

The summer was by far the most strenuous. I thought I hydrated enough that week and took a CamelBack with water and a water bottle, but it was not enough. The second half of the hike, fully exposed to the sun, I became pretty terribly dehydrated. Took about 3.5 hours to reach the top. In hindsight, I realized that that was the reason I had terrible cramps after stopping at the top to rest. I couldn’t straighten my legs. It was pretty bad. My friends drank water from the river, but I didn’t dare because of the what I heard about the parasites that comes from animal urine that ends up in the water.

The two other times I hiked it in the fall and spring, got up to the top in 2.5 hours and felt amazing. The lack of heat and summer sun exposure were the difference.

I HIGHLY recommend trekking poles, especially for the trip back down. They were a lifesaver. I hiked with and then forgot them the second time and the difference was night and day. The gravel is brutal on your feet and knees and the poles really helped soften the impact on the way down. And they helped me when the more decomposed granite made me slip. Happened a bunch of times. If you’re a beginner the poles will come in handy because you can also use your upper body to help you hike up when your legs start to get tired. And they will!

GET GOOD HIKING SHOES AND BREAK THEM IN WELL BEFORE THIS HIKE. One of my friends wore Converses and... let’s say he was in really bad pain by the end.

If you’re doing the hike to lose weight, don’t do what I did and not eat on the way up because you wanted to keep your calories low and calorie burning high. Protein bars and trail mix make a significant difference in improving your performance. Don’t get it twisted, this hike is very physically demanding and mentally, but so worth it!

When you get to the top and want to get closer to the river by crossing the bridge- for the love of GOD, do not get close to the water! Unless you’re a lot further up river where you can find some natural pools to wade in, don’t get close! Rangers out there were telling me that at least 2 people fall into the water a year. Once you’re in, you’re going over the falls 100%. The rocks can be incredibly slippery when you’re inching closer to touch the water. Take it from me, the water feels like cold water. Slip and you pretty much die.

Lastly, lots of people posting here complained about the bugs. I had zero problems with bugs and I’ve hiked this trail Spring, Summer, and Fall.

I’m going back in late-April and can’t wait!

Hope this all helps!

Ru

hiking
1 month ago

Completed this last August. Stunning! Uneven stairs and switchbacks almost the entire way, but, I’ll be doing this again! A beer in the valley at the end never tasted so good!

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked it today, 2/25. Reviewer below who recommended crampons was not kidding. Going up was fine, the top of the trail was easily hikeable slush, but by the time we came down it had frozen again, turning into an icy slip n slide. Thank god for hiking poles! Slippery conditions aside it was such a special experience seeing the falls in the winter, snowcapped on top with a giant powdery mountain of frozen mist at the bottom. And hearing the booming thunder of huge waterfall icicles breaking away and crashing down the granite wall. It’s a crowded trail and an intense climb, and while while winter is now my favorite, any time of year is totally worth it to sit in the mouth of the tallest waterfall in North America.

hiking
1 month ago

One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The hike was steep and somewhat challenging. There are many switchbacks. We did it in the middle of summer and it was very hot. Lots of shade though and the mist from the waterfall felt great! Bring lots of water and some snacks. Wear some good hiking shoes with good support and tread. The waterfall and views will not disappoint. Can’t wait to go back!

1 month ago

Difficult trail but the view is amazing.

hiking
1 month ago

Challenging hike with amazing view of the half dome,Yosemite Valley and Upper Yosemite Falls.Still with lots of snow in the trail.crampons and trekking poles highly recommend .

1 month ago

Incredible views. Definitely a hard hike but worth it. Be cautious if hiking in the snow as the hike down can be challenging navigating the slippery trail. The hike took a total of 5 1/2 hours with photo breaks and a break at the top.

2 months ago

All I can say is, "Wow!" This was an amazing (and challenging) hike with breathtaking views. I loved it.

hiking
2 months ago

Challenging hike that felt like it was straight up and straight down. The views were incredible. We had nice falls and vistas throughout the hike. This hike is hard and the elevation change is not gradual. Bring lots of water and power food. Hiking poles would have been helpful. We ate lunch at the top and felt accomplished . This hike took me 6;45 in total but I think the listed mileage is longer than they actually post. Definitely for experienced hikers or those in good physical shape.

hiking
2 months ago

Straight up, straight down. Great views of the falls and from the top.

hiking
2 months ago

This trail is definitely an exciting and difficult hike. I actually do not think it is the best hike of the park but definitely is one of the most challenging. The waterfall is amazing and looking up at it is intimidating. However if you persevere and make it to the top you do get rewarded with a pretty decent view of the valley. I actually like the view from the base of the upper falls better as you can appreciate the waterfall way better. If you are looking for the best views of the park try 4 mile trail or the panoramic trail. I think both of those provide a better awe encompassing view, but for the challenge and to say you made it to the highest waterfall in North America what are you waiting for!

2 months ago

Beautiful! I clocked in at 4 miles exactly at the top so a little more than it says keep going an extra mile to get to Yosemite Point it is SO worth it! The views are incredible and totally worth all the rocky switchbacks

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing experience..!!

2 months ago

Underestimate how intense it is.

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