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Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

HARD 1480 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.

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
3 hours 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
14 days 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
rocky
24 days ago

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely amazing, a must hike. We started at 7am and made summit by 10:30, a warm November day. The views of the valley are absolutely incredible. Towards the top it’s all sun, bring plenty of water. My Fitbit says it’s more than 7 miles, but 3200 vertical is accurate. We aren’t young, but did not think the switch backs were too difficult, just choose a nice pace. Going down took us the same amount of time, not too slippery, but stay safe from gravity on the thousands of steps.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike! First three miles were the toughest, especially the third mile. Hit the trailhead at 1145am, summited at 245, got back to the truck at 715pm. Bring a headlamp, lots of water, and an extra/outer layer.

hiking
1 month ago

Not 7 miles. I would guess 9-10 based on knowing my general pace and how long it took. Switchbacks for days. So many stone steps, if you don’t like stairs then probably not your jam. Summit views make up for all of it

Great hike. The only thing that was upsetting was there was no waterfalls. But overall l, it was fun!

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful views of Half Dome and the valley! The falls are dry right now, but the views were still stunning. The hike is very strenuous though, and the weather can change on a dime. We went from no jackets to multiple layers as it began to snow on our way down. The trail is mostly switchbacks, so just be ready for lots of incline/decline. Bring lots of water, snacks, and bear spray. We ran into one right on the trail!

hiking
bugs
off trail
rocky
1 month ago

I decided to hike to the base of El Cap and then make my way to the top. I figured I may not be back in Yosemite any time soon so I wanted to make the most of the opportunity. It was a long 41km and in parts quite difficult.

hiking
1 month ago

Sunny way in the morning provide amazing water views at the top but dry waterfalls in autumn! to do all the same!

hiking
1 month ago

Only can rate half of this trail as it turned out way longer than 21.5 miles. We did half and ran out of time, and my recording showed 18 miles. But it was beautiful! Will do the whole loop for sure

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

Bring plenty of water. Between waypoints 3 and 4 is the toughest, as you walk on a 45° incline or higher for about 1.5 hours with very little shade.

hiking
1 month ago

Highly recommend this trail if you are in Yosemite. The views just get better and better the higher you go. Just make sure to bring plenty of water and food if you do the entire trail. In all definitely home of the best trails in Yosemite.

hiking
1 month ago

A pretty strenuous hike for your average person, but my goodness, that view from the top is worth it!!!!!

hiking
1 month ago

a great hike. The waterfall was a trickle but them's the breaks this time of year. Well worth doing. Views are insane...

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing views from the top! Definitely a hard trail, take plenty of water and snacks! 5/5 recommend!

hiking
2 months ago

Spectacular hike. It’s too bad we were here when there is on going fire in Mariposa, near the park causing extremely smoky air and smoky clouds. When you get to the Upper fall out look, don’t stop there, continue to the left to see spectacular pool down there. Enjoy!

hiking
2 months ago

This trail is very strenuous, and beautiful at the same time. Bring sufficient water and snacks to keep you going. Well maintained but there was no water coning down now. You see the majestic rock wall only, must be beautiful in the spring.

hiking
2 months ago

Long and very challenging hike that I did as my first true hike. The view is worth it at the end and there is a swimming hole to cool off at. Bring a good amount of water and a snack to keep yourself going as you get closer to the top

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Not for the faint of heart! They should call this trail stair master falls. 3.5 miles of steady climbing to the top, we were in decent shape and still only averaged about 45 mins/mile because we had to keep stopping to catch our breath. The views along the way and at the top are definitely worth it, but be prepared! Lots of bees at the top too where people are stopped to eat their food.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

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