Panorama of the Yosemite Valley hike in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley hike

Yosemite National Park
View Photos
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: 11.6km
Elevation: 50m
Time: 1-6h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.5 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

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.

I’ve done this 26 people have done this
I want to do this 36 want to do this route

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 0.6km to get to the base of this meadow and bask in the vertical 900m 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

Nora T. 2 weeks ago

I will do this hike again! Outstanding views!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
Stumpyboots 2 weeks ago

Easy trail with nice views.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Kenny Walks 2 weeks ago

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

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
T Rob 2 months ago

Did this years ago but it was very enjoyable

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
MissGiggles 2 months ago

Stunning is the exact word to define this place. I will definitely go back. It's honestly like you've stepped into another world

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
2h 15m Time Taken
Carlos Gómez Sánchez-Lafuente 9 months ago

Great walk to see highlights like half dome, some animals like a deer. Flat and easy.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
2h 15m Time Taken
Cindy Thompson 1 year ago

My advice for this walk is - take your time, don't expect this to be a unique hike itself, it's a magnificent walk through the valley to see all the best points in Yosemite, plan your next hikes, choose the areas and the peaks. Just to experience how beautiful this place is.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
MM 1 year ago

would love to go back

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
2h 00m Time Taken
Bao X 1 year ago

Yosemite Valley was beautiful. So many trees and mountains to see around. 10/10

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
2h 15m Time Taken
Ramiro G. 1 year ago

A simple walk around the village. Wasn't too busy but maybe because it was raining when we were walking

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
2h 30m Time Taken
15 Comments Show all

Similar hikes to the Yosemite Valley hike

Scenery from the Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point hike in Yosemite Valley

Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point

Difficulty:
4.6km
245m
1.5h

The hike from Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park is a wonderful day out with a summit…

Scenery from the Lembert Dome hike in Yosemite National Park

Lembert Dome

Difficulty:
6.5km
285m
1.5-2.5h

The hike up Lembert Dome is one of the easier ways to get to the top of anything in Yosemite…

Scenery of the Clouds Rest hike in Yosemite Valley

Clouds Rest Hike

Difficulty:
20.25km
925m
7-9h

The hike to Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park is a fun day out and leads to one of the…