Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

HARD 854 reviews
#2 of 228 trails in

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is a 7.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, 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
7.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,175 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

snow

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
3 days ago

The trail was packed down for about 1.5 miles and after that no broken trail. You can see the upper falls at 1.5 miles into the hike. Microspikes are needed. If you want to hike more than 1.5 miles, snowshoes are a must have. We saw plenty of deers on the trail.

hiking
6 days ago

Did this hike at the end of January. Make sure you have good hiking shoes and lots of water! Challenging, but the views are worth it. There was some snow towards the top. Spikes would have been useful but you can still make it through if you have good shoes!

20 days ago

couple majestic views

hiking
1 month ago

Well worth the hike! Once you make it to the top you've got a nice flat area to walk along Yosemite Creek before making a left hand turn to hike to Eagle Peak (Near the summit of El Capitan). A great view of the valley floor and if you walk a little further up the trail you can see the reaction of the rock climbers who make it to the top of El Capitan! Very worthwhile experience! (There's a spring hidden in the granite along the rock slide area of the upper Yosemite Falls trail) Few find it but the water is fantastic!

hiking
snow
1 month ago

The whole trail is amazing. This hike has scenic views the entire way up and down which made it special.Priceless!
Whole trip took almost 6 hours round trip, including breaks to strip off clothings layers, lunch, take pics, take a time at the overlook. Things I would recommend bringing, specialy in winter: a good pair of boots and micro-spikes. It gets icy at the top! he last 1.5 miles of the switchbacks are covered in snow and ice.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

We did this trail on January 18th. The trail got snowy(up to about 3/4 ft) when you got all the way to the top, but most of it had no snow. The views at the top as well as the entire way up are absolutely breathtaking. Was quite challenging for the average hiker but a million times worth it.

1 month ago

Amazing view, totally worth the trip!

hiking
1 month ago

We did this hike January 11th and were astonished with how warm it was! We brought MANY layers ready for chilly weather but we ended up stripping down to a single layer of pants and t-shirt! If you start from 7-9AM you are going to be in direct sunlight for the entire trip up with little intervals of shade. With that said, we were so happy to feel the suns warmth (hot!!) because we were coming from freezing Boston weather. This hike had scenic views the entire way up and down which made it really special. The half dome is perfectly visible throughout the first 2 miles of the hike or so. Then the views switch to the falls! Gorgeous. Perfect introduction to Yosemite. Took us about 6 hours because we had breaks of taking off layers.

—WARNING—

The last 1.5 miles of the switchbacks are covered in snow and ice. We brought spikes for our shoes and we cruised along but we saw MANY fall hard. To enjoy the entirety of the hike, definitely buy shoe spikes!

hiking
1 month ago

This was my favorite hike of all time. The difficult hike up is totally worth it because of the amazing views. Did this hike in the middle of December, and there was only a little bit of ice towards the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Great views! LOTS of hard switchbacks straight up. Take more water than you think you’ll need and trail running shoes are a must. This is definitely the hardest trail I’ve done, also be sure to leave early!

Awesome hike! Do it in spring like me, when the flow is the biggest!

1 month ago

Whole trip took 5 hours round trip, including breaks and lunch at the overlook. Things I would recommend bringing: sunscreen, sunglasses, food/snack, plenty of water, a good pair of boots. Optional gear: micro spikes and binoculars. The whole trail is amazing. At points the sun reflecting off the snow and lack of tree cover can be relatively intense (hence the glasses and cream). It gets icy at the top, but my friend made it all the way in a pair of tennis shoes. 10/10 would recommend to ANYONE

hiking
1 month ago

We went as far as the Lower Gate. It was spectacular. The views of the valley, Half Dome, and the falls were totally worthwhile. And the hike was a nice workout.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing Trail! Would definitely go back! Bring plenty of water and snacks!

hiking
2 months ago

Majestic, grounding, and rewarding hike! Not to busy in the winter but pretty icy at the top. Took 5 hours from start to finish.

hiking
2 months ago

My girlfriend and I did this hike on Monday (12/3), and it totally kicked our butts!

We had originally planned on just going up to Columbia Rock and back. But after making it up in just 45 minutes, and with it being such a nice day, we decided to push forward and see how far we could make it up to the top.

This ended up being an incredible idea, as we encountered only three or four other hikers on our way up, and the views from the overlook were truly unforgettable!
However, in the deep snow (over a foot in places), the zig-zagging back and forth through the switchbacks made me question our decision at times …

But this is a truly incredible hike with breathtaking views of Half Dome and the Upper Falls leading up to the summit.

CAUTION: Make sure you are cognizant of your surroundings (i.e. falling ice), as there were some massive chunks that came cascading down the mountain side and landed within an arm's reach of us.

The climb to the top is absolutely worth it though, just be prepared to feel that 3,100 feet-plus of elevation gain on your way up.

We thoroughly enjoyed this hike for its solitude, challenge and beauty. Would love to come back in the summertime when the falls are gushing!

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike! I completed it yesterday 12/6/18. The last third of the trail gets quite slippery with hard packed snow. I put my microspikes on at the lookout at the top, but should have put them on sooner. The final path down to the lookout is very exposed and covered in loose sheets of snow and ice, though the metal railing made it passable. I was grateful for gloves, as well as sunglasses and sunscreen - the snow glare was bright. I continued another .8 miles past the falls to Yosemite Point - it was a great view but a lot of trouble (deep snow) to get there. If you aren't up for it, you can still take the short walk out that way to the wooden bridge. It's picturesque :)

hiking
2 months ago

We completed part of this trail on July 25, 2018 before our mandatory evacuation due to fires. We had to be out of the park by 9:00 so we knew we had to start early and hike fast. Due to the early evacuation, we were the only hikers on the trail. We moved as fast as we could in order to see as much as possible. The switchbacks definitely get the heart rate up and I went through quite a bit of water and the sun wasn’t even out. The steps were dusty and dry, but very slippery at times. Start early and bring plenty of water! Even though our hike was cut short due to the mandatory evacuation, this was my favorite hike!

3 months ago

Spectacular views.

3 months ago

Well maintained trail. Lots to explore at the top so the whole hike took this 58 yr old 9 hours. In November, with only 10 hours of daylight, it was essential to start early. Thrilling cliffs and vistas. Loved having good boots and hiking poles. So did my 27 and 30 yr old daughters. But we saw others in tennis shoes and even hiking sandals!

hiking
3 months ago

Pretty crowded hike but beautiful views. Got to the top in about 2 hours. Bring lots of water, even in November it got really hot.

3 months ago

Did the upper falls and Yosemite point hike In one go. I found the hike to the falls to be moderate at best, totally doable but don’t underestimate. Bring enough water and start no later than 9am.

hiking
3 months ago

Yosemite's oldest trail (and it shows). The granite can be slippery at times, and even if it was bone dry, we witnessed many stumbles.
At this time of the year, there wasn't any water, so... instead of Yosemite Falls, it was more like Yosemite Walls. Nevertheless, it is a breathtaking (figuratively and literally) hike. It's worth going the extra mile and hiking from Yosemite Overlook to Yosemite Point. The round trip departing from the Yosemite Lodge bus stop and back was 8.2 miles with a 3,386 elevation gain. Worth every step.

hiking
3 months ago

A fabulous trail, once again. It’s a strenuous uphill at the start with a mild dip in the middle then back upwards, continuously. The views are great but at no time was the heights a concern to me. There was a bit of traffic coming down. 2 hrs 10 minutes up and 1 hour 35 minutes down. Down was easier than expected. Lunch at the top was amazing.
Take water ! 2.5 litres per person and that’s for November with great weather, that we had.
Highly recommend.

hiking
3 months ago

This trail was rated moderate, but frankly, it was tough. I'm in good shape and I was tired and my quads were hammered by the time I finished. An amazing view from the top. This is a great hike. Just be prepared for a workout.

hiking
3 months ago

I did this hike earlier this year and kicked my fat old arse to say the least. Basically you can break this hike into three parts, the first third is a set of switch back hike that is moderately steep and a mix of dirt and granite stone (about 60% stone). You'll get great views from here and you're just above treeline, giving some very nice views. I'd say that about 40% of the folks I hiked up with turned around here, but really you should do the at least part of the next section if you ask me.

The 2nd 1/3 is a gentle set of twitch backs that take you to near the bottom of the 2nd falls. The view along here is mostly of the higher/2nd falls, which is better then the lower section of the falls if you ask me. i would generally tell people who are not up to doing the complete hike, to do this section too, as it fairly easy trek and of course the views are worth it.

The last 1/3rd is a very tuff section and exhausting to say the least. This mostly hard rock granite rocks that are also a nice incline, so be careful here as it's easy to slip and end up on your arse. If you have hiking polls, you should make full use of them here. Keep your eye on the right side of the trail because the left side. The left side is Eagle's Peak and higher than the Falls side, this gives the impression that you have to hike even higher then you really are hiking (I hope this makes sense). You end up about half mile behind the falls and you'll then trek across solid granite to get back to the falls itself.

The views are great from here, but also, if you do this in any other season other then Summer the sun is south of you and getting good photographs of the south side are kind of blah. Lesson learned to say the least. After I ate my lunch I trekked down to guard railed ledge and took it all in. I then trekked over to the stream/river and soaked my feet as I exhausted. While I started the climb around 9am, I didn't up to the top till about 2pm, so I turned around at 3 and started down.

The trek down, was painful. I think I was oldest and fattest person I ran into that day, so all that steep granite rocks you have to use on the first and last 3rd took toll on my body to say the least. It also took me longer than most folks as I found I had to take much smaller steps to keep from ending up on my big butt. I ended up having to do the least 30 minutes of the hike in the dark too, thankfully I brought a flashlight along. Also in the last 1/3 of the decent the trail filled up with a lot of folks coming down (all in much better shape then me). So that slowed me down too as I kept having to get out of the way of the folks behind me (I'm glad I did, nothing worse then getting stuck behind a slow poke like me).

I'm super glad I did this hike, though for me, I won't ever do it again.

3 months ago

Strenuous and spectacular. 6hrs round trip with my 9 year old daughter in October. Falls were mostly dried up, but that allows you to explore the drop off area at the top.

4 months ago

Amazing areas I will back soon

4 months ago

Awesome views from the top! If you plan on hiking during the summer, start as early as possible.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you but don’t overload yourself because this is a serious hike where every pound will be felt throughout the hike.

It was not that busy when we started out during a June 14th hike but on the way down we saw LOTS of people coming up during the midday sun.

Bring more water than you think you’re going to need. It was 95 by noon when I made it to the top. I had 5L on me and just about ran out at the top.

hiking
4 months ago

So pretty!! The waterfall is super small in October which is the only time I’ve done it but the fall colors in the leaves make up for it. the views from the top make it 100% worth it!

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