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Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

HARD 833 reviews
#3 of 230 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

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.

12 hours ago

Great time. Backpacked in to the knoll above the falls. We had the mountain to ourselves.

hiking
23 hours ago

Stunning hike. Finished under five hours with a thirty minute lunch break. Snow at the peak in late May. The snow had melted into mud and slush on the way back which was slippery. Strenuous but doable.

hiking
1 day ago

Even with the hype It doesn’t disappoint. Went in early May when the falls were near peak. Absolute stunning views of the valley, half dome, and the falls. If the switchbacks wear you out halfway up, no need to push to the top, the best views are a few miles up where the falls, valley, and half dome are staring you in the face. Views at the top are great but you can’t see the falls from that vantage point. Either way, enjoy!

Hiked this yesterday 5/22 after a bit of snow fell the previous night. We started hiking before 8 am and the entire ascent was in the clouds with little to no visibility of the falls. The last set of switchbacks was covered in snow and I was very happy to have brought my microspikes and poles. Once at the top there was no view to be seen, but the fog lifted late morning, and the clouds and snow continued to melt away. If you make it to the top and it’s cloudy, it’s worth waiting to see if the clouds clear! Currently, there are so many little streams flowing on the trail that offer places to filter water, so if you have a filtration bottle you can start light on water and filter as you go! Bring layers, decent shoes and don’t wear cotton.

hiking
rocky
2 days ago

This trail is the perfect length for a challenging Yosemite hike! If you want a good buttkicking workout on a well marked trail, look no farther. The 3.5 miles to the Upper Falls is ~80% rocky switchbacks. There is very little flat trail and a decent amount of water crossings so waterproof boots/shoes are a must. Trekking poles were really helpful too. We hiked this yesterday (5/20/19) and the trees below and above tree line were still pretty covered in snow. As the sun came out the snow was melting and we got pelted by snowballs and ice. A waterproof shell is needed during the switchbacks by the falls because the mist is pretty strong (but refreshing because you will be sweating)! The views at Yosemite Falls Lookout were just stunning. You’ll see the back part of Half Dome and overlook the entire valley. We took the rocky stairs down to the overlook where the railings are above the falls. The views weren’t quite what we were looking for there so we ventured back up and on to Yosemite Point. From the falls to Yosemite Point adds another 2 miles round trip to the hike but is so worth it. The climb to the point is mild but gradual. If you wander around the point (away from the railings) you will have unobstructed views of Half Dome. The hike down was really slippery as the snow was melting throughout the day. Some sections are a little steep and I saw a few people fall. Just use caution, take your time getting down and you’ll be fine. Remember, when hiking down, hikers coming up have the right of way. So step aside and let them continue up those grueling switchbacks before continuing your hike down. I drank ~4 liters of water and packed 4.5. I could have drank it all but was worried I’d run out before getting back to our car near Yosemite Lodge. We started the trail at 7:30am and got to upper falls a little before 1030. I ate and shot photos for about an hour before going to Yosemite Point. I spent another hour shooting there and taking it all in before heading down. We finished around 4:00 so spent about 6-6.5 hours of time hiking total.

2 days ago

A great hike, we on Sunday, 19.05. We did not start until 10:30 because we thought the rain was getting less. Good against cold (initially about 5 degrees, later colder) and packed rain we made the way back and forth in 5 hours and 15 minutes. On the way we had everything ... from a great view of the waterfall, to no view at all. From a bit of sunshine, over much rain to tidy snow. The higher we came, the colder it got. At some point it started to snow quite easily, but that was not so bad. As it was very cold / windy on the viewing platform and started to snow more and more we started on the way back. This was the first third not easy, because you could not see where it goes at all and then did not know where you can meet without slipping. The next day started sunny and cloudless ... But in the nice weather everybody can

no shade
rocky
scramble
3 days ago

This was *the* highlight hike of the trip! A fairly long and strenuous hike, that we extended by taking the extra mile or so to Yosemite Point (sign posted, and visible, from the Upper Falls). Sections of shaded, tree-lined swtichbacks offered ever increasing views of the valley before opening up at Columbia Rock. After this the mist and spray from the falls started to cool us down, taking our breath away when coming into full sight. A fair bit of the hike had no shade so was pretty hot in the mid morning sun, so make sure and take water! The views along the whole route, especially the top, were amazing and not to be missed. We set off early and found that it was not too congested, however this got much busier on the way back with late comers starting the trail.

3 days ago

tough but great hike. all day trip going to top. bring plenty of water and snacks and sunblock.

hiking
5 days ago

Beautiful views the entire way! We started at 8am and it wasn’t crowded, we got to the top at 11am and as we went down it was much more crowded. Took us about 6 hours total. Very steep and a lot of switchbacks

5 days ago

Such an adventure! Definitely worth the views

Great hike. We got wet from the mist of the waterfall as well as it started raining. It really was an accomplishment. it took us 6 1/2 hours to complete.

hiking
rocky
10 days ago

Stunning views a fantastic, hard but rewarding hike! Well worth doing it. You get wet but not completely and as the wet bit is in the middle you dry out by the time you get to the top or bottom. This was my favourite hike among all the five we did.

hiking
10 days ago

Super hard. The views going up along falls beautiful.

hiking
rocky
10 days ago

WOW! Hard doesn’t describe this hike, if you go all the way to the top. Most people on the trail were catching flys, others were on magic carpets to the top. If you’re not in good shape I wouldn’t recommend. My girlfriend and I stopped multiple times because the amount of people and we were out there on a Monday. Took us 6 hours round trip for 7.5 miles. Great view at the top. Rough on the legs and a ton of switchbacks. All in all it’s a great hike for someone with experience.

10 days ago

really beautiful hike! great views, easy to navigate. fairly steep grade. if you love hiking, you will like this trail! It is very hot during the spring/summer months but there is often wind. So dress appropriately! Can be done in just a few hours. Great for a day hike.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
11 days ago

hiking
11 days ago

Awesome hike worthy of its hard rating. There's nothing necessarily technical about the hike, but there are a lot of stairs and the top half has very little shade. There is a lot of gorgeous scenery to take in, but about halfway up you get an up close view of the upper falls. Even if you don't plan on finishing, making it that far is worthwhile. There are a lot of people on this trail-- you decide if that is congestion or subtle opportunities for a quick breather. Definitely recommend for anyone looking for a big hike with a big reward.

hiking
11 days ago

One of the toughest hikes I've done but also one of the best! I went solo and it took me about 3.5 hours, 2hrs to the top and 1.5hrs back down. The second half of the way up is all uphill and coming down was rough on my legs. Views during entire hike were definitely worth seeing!

hiking
12 days ago

It pays to wake up early! We got to the park by 6:45 am and began by 7. Definitely a strenuous hike with many switchbacks - bring lots of water because it takes longer than you think. We totaled a little over 7 hours. You don’t need a rain jacket! Amazing views from the top - check out Mother Earth as well to get a view of both falls!

13 days ago

Definately strenuous. Trail well maintained and varying surface of dirt, rocky step areas and a few areas of running water over the rocks....but rocks stable and overall a safe surface! Partly cloudy today and rain and thunder at the top...but really didnt bother us...a little cold when exposed up top. Took us 5 hours total...3 hours to get to top and 2 hours to get down....we were not the fastest on the trail by any means, but steady....we were told it would take 6 - 10 hours!!!! definately feels like an accomplishment, was beautiful and a great way to see yosemite!

rocky
14 days ago

Amazing hike, with incredible views. It is a tough climb to the top, 2-3 hours of steep switch backs on rocky terrain. would not recommend for younger kids or anyone with a low fitness level. highly recommend wearing good hiking boots with ankle support, saw several people in runners fall over. bring plenty of water as the only place to refill is off small streams. Hats and sunscreen are a must, there is very little shade on the top half and it gets hot up there. Get up early and bet the crowds.

hiking
14 days ago

It was quite hard but worth it completely, superb views!!

hiking
15 days ago

The trail itself is great, but the foot traffic you have to deal with getting up there makes for a pretty crowded hike.

hiking
17 days ago

Wow!!! Beautiful!! Quite the climb, but so worth it

hiking
snow
17 days ago

Well maintained and amazing views. There was some ice/snow on the ground but that meant the falls was pumping! For those who don’t like crowds, go as early (and safely) as possible because it gets packed. Make sure you head over to Yosemite Point and North Dome :)

hiking
21 days ago

Very strenuous both up and down. I went a mile up.

22 days ago

Amazing! Make sure to plan for time at the top because you won't want to leave! (also pack a lunch whoops)

25 days ago

This hike was brutal but so worth the views. No snow on the trail, but lots of runoff water so waterproof shoes are recommended. The trail doesn't require a lot of technical skills but it's very strenuous. I recommend skipping the upper falls overlook (you can't see the falls anyway after the halfway point) & going an extra mile to Yosemite Point. Trust me, it's worth it for the views of the valley and high country landmarks in the distance.

hiking
25 days ago

A bit strenuous but worth it for the view

hiking
25 days ago

A bit strenuous but worth it for the view

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