Yosemite Valley

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Easy
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.
2-3h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
11.6 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.
50 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.8
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panorama of the Yosemite Valley hike in Yosemite National Park

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.

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Route Description

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

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.

Route Details

  • When to do

    Year round

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    On route

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Elevation Graph

Weather

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