Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
5-7h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
12.2 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
981 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

Hiking the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is an epic adventure that is best left for experienced hikers, as you will climb over 2,560 ft in a mere 7.5 mi! Though technical and tiring, the vistas along this route are unparalleled in their beauty. Revel in breathtaking panoramas of the Yosemite Falls that cascade over 2,425 ft into the valley below, and the Sierra Nevada mountains that dominate the horizon.

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Route Description for Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

The Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is not for the faint of heart. Ascending over 2,560 ft in elevation in just over 7.5 mi, this heart-pounding trek warrants some stamina and experience. Climbing up through over 135 switchbacks, a pair of sturdy footwear and a good attitude are necessary. Be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks to refuel along this route, as you will be hiking over 6hrs! Additionally, it is important to stay on the worn path, as diverting away from the explicit trail is extremely dangerous. The waterfall often dries up in late-June until October, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly. Note: the Yosemite National Park charges an entrance fee, refer to the NPS website for more information.

Competing for a title as one of the crown jewels of Yosemite National Park, the Yosemite Falls is up right up there against the Half Dome and El Capitan in our books. Not only will you be granted epic panoramas of the waterfall on your way up the cliffside, but you will also be granted magnificent vistas of the Sierra Nevada Range, including the impressive sights of the Half Dome. Let the commanding views of the mountainous landscape and the waterfall motivate you to climb up the vertigo-inducing terrain. Once you reach the top of the waterfall, a sense of personal achievement will rush over you. If you are seeking a demanding trek, then you have met your match.

Embark on your adventure along the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail from the Camp 4 trailhead and parking lot. From here, head northwest along the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. Setting out from the trailhead, the path will climb up a seemingly never-ending set of intense switchbacks. Mind your footing here as you ascend the switchbacks through the pine forests, before reaching Colombia Rock. Here, you will be rewarded with 180-degree views of Yosemite Valley. This is a great place to rest and rehydrate before continuing up the path. Now trekking northeast along the exposed ridge of the granite cliffside, mind your footing and stay on the worn path as you near a viewpoint of the Yosemite Falls.

Admire the sights of the surging cascades and take plenty of photos! Soon, you will pass a metal gate before trekking along the exposed ridge. Let the chilly mist cool you off as you scramble up the vertiginous terrain. After climbing you will reach another gate, where you will be granted awe-inspiring views of the Half Dome and neighboring Sierra Nevada Mountains. If you are feeling adventurous – and are not afraid of heights – then hike out to the overlook above the falls, which will showcase an astonishing, dumbfounding, and vertigo-inducing view of the surging cascades over the sheer granite cliffs. After reveling in the other-worldly scenery, retrace your footing down the path back to the trailhead.

Trail Highlights

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls is a collection of three distinct cascades that surge over sheer granite cliffs into the Yosemite Valley. Considered by most to be the tallest waterfall in North America, the Yosemite Falls fall short of the Pu'uka'oku Falls in Hawaii. Ranked the 6th highest waterfall in the world, Yosemite Falls boasts an other-worldly scene. The three sections of the waterfalls are: Upper Yosemite Falls, Middle Cascades, and Lower Yosemite Falls, and all together they form the incredible cascade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail difficult?

Yes, the Upper Yosemite Falls Hike is a strenuous climb up the vertiginous terrain.

How long is the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

The Yosemite Falls Trail is a 12.2 km out-and-back hike in Yosemite Falls Hike.

How many switchbacks are there along the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

There are around 135 switchbacks along the Upper Yosemite Falls Hike.

When is the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail open?

The Upper Yosemite Falls Hike is open year-round, though hiking in the winter months proves more challenging.

Insider Hints for Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

  • Parking at Camp 4 is plentiful, but if you don’t want to worry about securing a spot, take the park shuttle to stop #7
  • In the winter months we urge you to pack a pair of microspikes to safely navigate the snow-capped terrain
  • Bring plenty of water, this vertiginous climb is sure to exhaust you
  • Charge your camera, the vistas of the falls and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

Getting to the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail Trailhead

The Upper Yosemite Falls Trail departs from the Camp 4 parking lot off Northside Drive.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail Elevation Graph

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