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Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

HARD 1640 reviews
#3 of 246 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 is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 7.2 miles Elevation Gain: 3,175 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

snow

no shade

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.

icy
snow
2 days ago

Great hike, beautiful views. Slippery after 1.5 hours and most of the way to the top because of packed snow and ice. Needed spikes. Passed people on my way down who did not have proper footwear and they were slipping consistently. Best to get an early start. Otherwise the trail gets crowded with non-hikers.

hiking
icy
snow
8 days ago

Started the hike a little after 6 and made it up to Columbia rock by 7 and watched the sunrise. After that the snow began to get worse and worse about 2.5 miles in is when we were in automatic mode. Kicking threw at least a half foot of snow making this hike even harder then it already is. We both were slipping every few switchbacks on icy rocks and a few steep areas covered in snow. When finally reached the top there was no visible trail to the overlook just signs and snow. Overall took me and my buddy 5 1/2 hours to complete the hike. Would definitely do it again but when everything dries up and the water is flowing!

hiking
8 days ago

Really steep, I’m in good shape and it was a tough hike. Really enjoyed but I did tweak my knee on it a little

hiking
15 days ago

So challenging, like walking up stairs for days! Totally worth it. Bring water if it’s a hot day, and take breaks as needed. Go early to beat the crowd, and so you can have time to sit at top and take in the amazingness.

hiking
16 days ago

A great iconic hike in the park. Nature’s stair master. Be prepared for what weather you are hiking in. In winter (when we did it) there was no snow in the valley but taking microspikes was a smart idea As we would not have been able to get to the bridge due to ice . Wear appropriate shoes with some kind of traction especially in winter months and be mindful of sunset.

hiking
icy
rocky
snow
22 days ago

Beautiful sunny day. We started at 8:10am and the trail was nearly empty as we went up. However it got very very busy later in the day as we were descending. It’s a very rocky and steep trail...very little respite as you climb, pretty much straight up the whole way, and very little dirt trail, it’s all rocks and boulders. About 0.5 miles from the top of Yosemite falls the trail got icy and snowy and we were glad we had micro-spikes. Beautiful views and well worth the climb. We were glad we started early, avoided them crowds, and had time for Yosemite point too. The snowy trek continuing on to Yosemite Point was gorgeous.

hiking
24 days ago

Great challenging hike. I did it on December 26, and as others have said it was very icy and snowy near the top. I’m 62 in average shape and wore hiking boots. Very slippery in places but beautiful. Views of the falls are best along the trail before you reach the top but the view at the top....amazing!

hiking
icy
27 days ago

12/28/2019 Great trail. Icy and snowy at the top. I bought yak tracks after this hike. Watch out for falling ice and rocks.

hiking
closed
icy
snow
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

One of my hardest hikes. I'm 51 and in "ok" shape. My daughter and I hiked it Dec 20, 2019. I probably wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for her cheering me on. very challenging with over 135 switchbacks. Took us (me) 4.5 hrs up and 3 hrs down. the views are worth every ounce of pain! thankfully we brought crampons with us, lots of ice & snow towards the top. it was like an ice skating rink at some points! The hike down is not friendly on the knees but it's definitely a bucket list hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike, but it is difficult. We did it on Dec 19. Lots of switchbacks. There was ice/snow at the top so be careful with your footing! I’d recommend hiking poles. The trail offers beautiful views of the valley, Yosemite falls, and half dome. The way down was also challenging due to ice and rocks - it took some concentration to make sure you didn’t fall.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this today. The hike was Beautiful, but a bit challenging in spots. I slipped and fell twice. Started around 8:00 am and finished about 1:30 without taking many breaks. Very few people after the first 1.5 miles. I’m 53 and my fitness level is decent, but I was glad when we were finished, The steps down were almost as bad as going up. Start early and be patient. The view is worth it

hiking
1 month ago

Added the trek to Yosemite Point onto reaching the final platform at the falls. Difficult but fair trek. The view at the very top of the falls doesn't favorably compete with seeing & hearing the upper falls crashing below from an earlier point in the hike. If you like effort, rugged footing and some ice & snow (returning from Yosemite Point back to the trail that takes you to the Falls overlook made for terrific butt-skating on the way back. Saves time & adds fun) it's a great hike. *However*, if you are trying to maximize limited time/limited weather luck while you're in Yosemite, I wouldn't let foregoing 100% completion on this trail haunt you like, say, not doing all of Angel's Landing in Zion should.

hiking
1 month ago

It was very hard hiking . It was on the day of my birthday July 16 2019, Breath taking I will never forget it. .

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
1 month ago

I did this hike today (10 Dec) with my husband and it was great. We started at camp 4 around 830, made it to the falls around 11 or so. The track is steep with lots of switchbacks which slowed my pace down (I’m in fairly good shape but elevation tends to get the best of me sometimes). The track is well maintained and according to Garmin we gained 1004m elevation. At this time of year there was snow and icy patches towards the top so be careful, and most of the ice had melted into slush/mud on the way back but still with slippery patches. Didn’t see anyone on the way up but saw a handful of people on our way down after midday. Personally I’d recommend leaving before midday as the switchbacks can slow the pace down and if you plan on reaching the falls you want to leave enough time to get back before dark (sunset was at 430 today). Overall was a rewarding hike with a great view at the top, and nice views of the half dome on the way up.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

We did this hike today (Nov 26) and the conditions were great. There was a snow storm warning for 3pm and onwards so we decided to go early to avoid it. Started around 8am from a parking lot by camp 4. There are camp toilets if you need them too. No other toilets on this hike do good to take advantage before setting off. There were a few wonderful views of half dome along the way. But mostly the way to the top was just a big strenuous hike up switchbacks. It was tiring. We made it to the top in 2 hours, at around 10am. Some great opportunities for panoramic photos. The downward hike was quite brutal on our knees and legs but we got down to the parking lot in another two hours time. Apple Watch recorded the route as being: 7.78 Miles. Elevation gain 3061ft. I had thought this might have been harder based on some reviews here but really it wasn’t too bad. We’re not super hikers or anything, just went up and down pretty quickly without much stopping. We did this hike and some of the other falls hikes in Yosemite and preferred this one. It would have been nice to see the water tho. The falls were dry today.

Fantastic but wayyyy harder than anticipated. We’ve hiked other intense locations like Observation Point in Zion, but this was definitely tougher due to the elevation increase. Be ready for switchbacks on switchbacks because that’s pretty much the entirety of the hike. The view at the top is amazing, even without the waterfall (which I’m sure is fantastic). My Apple Watch said the hike was done in 6 hours, including breaks, for a total distance of 9 miles. The total elevation gain there and back was 3,173 ft. Max elevation was 6,728 ft and starting elevation was 3,943 ft. Make sure to take plenty of water and a flashlight (if you’re starting the hike later during the fall/winter). We started the hike at around 12 pm and it was pitch black by the time we got to the last set of switchbacks near the trail head. Luckily we had flashlights so we were ok, but it’s impossible to see without them starting at about 5:30 pm in November. We would recommend starting the hike earlier than noon so that you have more time to enjoy the wonderful view once you get to the top. Enjoy, hope this review helps!

hiking
2 months ago

WARNING: DO NOT TAKE OLD BIG OAK FLAT ROAD The first two thirds of the El Capitan Loop is absolutely incredible! HOWEVER, do not finish the loop. Once you get to Old Big Oak Flat road, turn back and DO NOT finish the loop by taking this unmaintained trail. There are fallen trees everywhere, which is a lot of fun to traverse, but there are 3-4 areas along the trail which have been destroyed by a rock slide. It is DANGEROUS to say the least and I will never do this portion of the loop again. Those who went before left some stone markers to help guide others across, but they are difficult to find and there’s no clear route across. There’s a very real chance of hurting yourself severely. Other than the rock slide area, everything about the trail is gorgeous and I highly recommend taking it to El Cap and back, but I will never finish the loop again.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike. Sadly we had to tap out midway up. We were not ready for the switchbacks, but we also had a baby. The trail is well maintained and even saw 4 guys up there with tools working on the trail. We will be back to finish this hike soon.

hiking
2 months ago

Quite steep. But the views as you get closer to the top are beautiful. Can be misty if going during summer when falls are roaring.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

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