Panorama of the Yosemite Valley hike in Yosemite National Park
Panorama of the Yosemite Valley hike in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley hike

Yosemite National Park
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Yosemite Valley Hike in Yosemite National Park has amazing waterfall viewsMountain at Yosemite Valley Hike in Yosemite National ParkTrail in the forest Yosemite Valley Hike in Yosemite National ParkMan hiking on the trail in Yosemite Valley Hike, Yosemite National ParkHiker taking an image at Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National ParkWooden sign at Yosemite Valley trail in Yosemite National ParkYosemite Valley Hike in Yosemite National Park has amazing mountain viewsMountain view at Yosemite Valley Hike in Yosemite National ParkLower Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National ParkMan hiking on trails through the woods at Yosemite Valley Hike at Yosemite National ParkLower Yosemite Fall wooden sign at Yosemite National ParkWide trail on Yosemite Valley Hike at Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley hike

Distance: 7.2mi
Elevation: 164ft
Time: 1-6h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.6 Overall Rating
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Walking along the Yosemite Valley is one of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park. Savor the moments exploring this iconic natural landscape with enormous mountains and spectacular scenery.

Yosemite Valley hike Map

Getting there

Follow the signs for Yosemite Valley, and park anywhere in the valley. We prefer parking near the Yosemite Falls Trailhead as there are often major traffic jams around the village.

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About

When to do

Year round

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

On route

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Circuit


Yosemite Valley
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Yosemite Valley

This is a nice, flat stroll along wide paths through the valley that gives imposing views of massive granite slabs and distant mountains. Park anywhere in the valley to start this hike, but near Yosemite Falls it is the easiest, as it gives quick access out of the park in the busy afternoon.

Once parked, find the Valley Floor Loop trail and take this, feel free to meander, stop, start and explore. There’s no uphill or time limit today. The major highlights to see are Yosemite Falls, the tranquil views of the Merced River, the various meadows – El Capitan and Half Dome.

Starting near Yosemite Falls you can scamper up the wide paved path from the village to see the lower falls with ease (less than a kilometer will no elevation gain).

Returning to the valley, walk west along the river on a wide, smooth path, and surround yourself with great views of El Capitan and the Merced River. This meandering trail can be a bit loud with traffic, which is why it is great to start very early. Soon you come to El Capitan. It’s absolutely worth the extra 0.4mi to get to the base of this meadow and bask in the vertical 2953ft of rock – a truly imposing site.

From here, return to the valley and cross over the river. Continue walking along the river for a short while, then cross the river again and explore more of the forest. This is an interesting walk to see the typical flora of Yosemite, as well as some extremely large trees.

As you hike on the south side of the Merced, across the road, you will notice the falls on your left peeking out. Along the trail you will come to a boardwalk going over meadows. Take this and when you get to the river, take the left-hand side (west). Continue along the dirt path right beside the river. Look behind you to see some of the most magnificent views of Half Dome reflected in the Merced River surrounded by gorgeous mountain meadows.

Cross the river on a pedestrian bridge and then continue left on a dirt path. This is a nice way back to the car, however there is only a faint path across the meadows. Again, great photos in all directions.

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

Insider Hints

  • There are some amazing views from the meadows near the Merced River. Definitely get off the main path to see these.

  • If you are doing the full valley, including Curry Village, then consider taking your swimming trunks and going for a swim in the public pool there!

Comments

Bill Parks 1 year ago

Stunning! Just stunning, I was completely blown-away by the landscapes, the lush forest, the mountain peaks...

10.0 Overall Rating
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Francine Robertson 1 year ago

I had a WONDERFUL day and saw the park in all its magnificence. Stunning!

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5h 00m Time Taken
Clara Fields 1 year ago

Trail is very enjoyable. Had fun!

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6h 00m Time Taken
cindychu 1 year ago

Visited this place several times before, but it never ceases to amaze me.

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6h 00m Time Taken
YashKumar 1 year ago

Just gorgeous what can I say.

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5h 15m Time Taken
supermario 1 year ago

It was unforgettable. the river was just something from a postcard.

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AltaVito 1 year ago

The views are compelling. I was especially impressed with the flora.

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Nora T. 1 year ago

I will do this hike again! Outstanding views!

10.0 Overall Rating
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4h 00m Time Taken
Stumpyboots 1 year ago

Easy trail with nice views.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Kenny Walks 1 year ago

Walking the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail is very enjoyable. This trail is easy.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
49 Comments Show all

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