Panorama of the Yosemite Falls hike in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls hike

Yosemite National Park
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Wooden sign of the Lower Yosemite Fall on the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaViews from the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaPeople posing on the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaWide trail of the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaTrail of the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaUpper Falls of the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaYosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite Valley rewards with great viewsMan with gear hiking in Yosemite Falls Hike Yosemite National ParkLooking down the mountain on the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaBeautiful panoramic views on Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaRiver flowing through rocks on the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaRocky stairs on the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaMan with hiking gear on the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaSign of the overlook on the Yosemite Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls hike

Distance: 9.6km
Elevation: 580m
Time: 3-5h

Difficulty Rating:

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9 Overall Rating
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Don't hike to the top of Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park. Spend your time only on the best and see both falls and avoid the challenging final ascent to the top of the Upper Falls (where there is no real view of the stunning cascades anyways!).

Yosemite Falls hike Map

Getting there

Follow the signs for Yosemite Valley, and park at the parking lot just past the Yosemite Falls Trailhead or in the Yosemite Village Parking lot. We prefer the Yosemite Falls Trailhead as it avoids the traffic jam around the Village.

I’ve done this 19 people have done this
I want to do this 32 want to do this route

About

When to do

June through October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Yosemite Falls
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Yosemite Falls

For the lower falls, walk up a wide paved path with no elevation gain for about a kilometer from the village. The trail is excellently marked, and if you have any confusion just follow the crowds. Come back down and continue west on a paved path parallel to the road towards the Upper Yosemite trailhead. You will pass the famous camp 4, a climber’s camp, and turn right to start the hike.

Start climbing, but don’t worry; you will not be going to the top. The best views are only approximately 2.0km along the path. Remarkably, the view from the top isn’t that great – this isn’t a view like Vernal or Nevada Falls!

The path switchbacks up in the shade for several kilometers. We saw many people with little to no water on the trail – a very dangerous sight indeed.

The best views along the trail are at the end of the shaded section where there is a guardrail and beautiful views of half dome. A little further on the views of the upper falls (from the bottom) are absolutely spectacular.

We did continue on to the top. It is a nice hike, but you can spend your scarce time elsewhere more effectively. Going to the top will triple the elevation that you have already climbed – it’s like climbing an 800m skyscraper with pure switchbacks. Be extremely careful on hot days, as the majority of the climb is completely exposed to the sun. We saw a number of people struggling with the climb and the heat (they were not happy). Remember to wear light clothing and a hat.

Once you get to the top, there is a viewpoint where many people opt to stop and eat their lunch. Going left from the edge there is a sign that leads to the official viewpoint. This is a very exposed route with few guardrails that directs you to a very underwhelming overlook. Ironically there are no good views of the falls from the top.

Be careful descending in the heat. If the streams are running, dunk your hat or an extra sweater in the water and wrap it around your neck to cool you off. It can be a godsend midday in August.

If you want to find more great hikes in Yosemite, check out Clouds Rest, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite Valley or Panorama Trail!

Insider Hints

  • You don’t need to get to the top for the best views on this hike.

  • Take water, this route can be hot and exposed!

Comments

Katelyn DuBose 10 months ago

I’ve hiked in Yosemite for years and this is actually in my top 5 favorite trails. This post does NOT do this trail justice. If you want to fully experience everything Yosemite has to offer I think this hike has a lot to give. You ascend straight from the valley floor and along the way have multiple view points of the valley, half dome and sentinel. Yosemite point, which is only half a mile further once you reach the top of the cascade allows you to over look north dome, half dome, sentinel, and so much more.

Cindy Thompson 10 months ago

Nice hike, not too easy but not one where you need to use up all of your energy. A great hike for a more relaxing day.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Freddo 1 year ago

Yosemite falls were great. A very popular hike. But all the park was really crowded.

9.0 Overall Rating
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4h 00m Time Taken
Ramiro G. 1 year ago

this is a lovely hike and the falls are beautiful. I prefer Nevada falls through but if you have enough of time I would advise visiting both

10.0 Overall Rating
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3h 30m Time Taken
mountaincat 1 year ago

We took the route all the way up to the falls. Apparently, there was no need to since the best viewpoint was lower

10.0 Overall Rating
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5h 00m Time Taken
Burokai 1 year ago

A pleasant walk, lots of families. Might get a bit crowded during summer days

8.0 Overall Rating
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Mikey 1 year ago

yosemite falls was a nice hike, but the falls were not really spectacular. it might have been a drier month.

8.0 Overall Rating
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4h 00m Time Taken
7 Comments

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