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@samshoup
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YOSEMITE SAM
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Published
Feb 04, 2022
04:01 AM
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Lower Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls is a beautiful spot to visit especially in the spring when the waterfalls are full! It is a quick half mile walk to see the falls and can even be seen from the road. It’s all on a paved path and incredibly accessible so definitely worth it any time of year to get a close up view of the waterfall.

It gets very crowded here since anyone can get to it but worth the quick trip! I believe it would be open all year round and give you a beautiful view of the rock face.

Sentinel Dome

Sentinel Dome is a short but beautiful 2 mile hike with about 500 feet of elevation gain. It’s a stunning view that makes it seem like you are looking down on Half Dome! It’s a pretty busy trail but there’s lots of room on the path. It is a great hike to add on to another hike in the day.

This trail is accessible on Glacier Point Road. The trailhead is probably over an hour from the valley floor. So it’s quite a drive, but takes you to one of my favorite areas in the park. It would be great to do with other hikes in this area on that day. I did this hike with Taft Point and it ended up being about a 4 mile hike in total. Parking can be difficult in this area so you may have to park on the side of the road.

Taft Point

Taft Point is a lookout point off of Glacier Point Road and is a 2 mile hike round trip. It offers stunning views of the Valley and allows you to look on El Capitan and a view of Yosemite Falls. I would recommend doing this hike with Sentinel Dome for about a 5 mile trip!

Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

This is a stunning hike featuring two huge waterfalls! I would highly recommend this hike especially during the spring months when the falls are full from the snow melt. This is a 6-7 mile hike with about 2,000 feet elevation gain. It’s not an incredibly easy hike and features some pretty steep inclines and steps. This hike is open all year round but would be icy in the winter and would be good to have micro spikes.

The hike is heavily trafficked with many people who will hike the the first waterfall, Vernal Falls. After that, there are a lot less people. The first mile or so of the hike is relatively strenuous with lots of inclines but mostly is uphill for the first half and downhill for the second half of the hike.

Top of Nevada Falls
Top of Nevada Falls

In the winter months, the hike is an out and back trail because the John Muir part of the trail is closed. During the regular months of the year, it is a loop trail that wraps around the other side of the waterfalls and offers different views of Half Dome that you wouldn’t normally get to see.

Half Dome and Liberty Cap
Half Dome and Liberty Cap

When I did this hike, my friend and I decided to extend the hike a bit longer to get a view from the Panorama trail. A little bit after you pass Nevada Falls, there will be a point on the John Muir Trail where you can take a left and go up the Panorama Trail. We walked a few miles on this trail to get quite a different view of Half Dome. This is a great way to add distance to your hike while getting a beautiful view. We only saw one or two other groups of people on this part of the trail so it was nice and quiet.

View of Lower Yosemite Falls from Panorama Trail
View of Lower Yosemite Falls from Panorama Trail

Illilouette Falls

Illilouette Falls is a beautiful hike accessible from Glacier Point. The hike is a 4.9 mile out and back trail that features about 1,500 elevation gain. Unfortunately, this trail isn’t accessible all year round as glacier point road closes in November and doesn’t open again until April. The hike is super beautiful and offers an insane view of half dome and Nevada falls almost the entire way. The nice thing about this hike is that it’s not super heavily trafficked. I visited in early May and other hikes were very crowded, but this hike I only saw a few people. You may run into bears or other wildlife on this trail, as it is near water and not very busy with people.

Another great thing about it is you could make it longer by continuing on the Panorama trail. You could even continue on the panorama trail to connect with the Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail. This would probably be at least a 15 mile hike and you would need a car parked at the Mist Trailhead and one at Glacier Point but it would be incredibly beautiful!

Upper Yosemite Falls to Yosemite Point

Upper Yosemite Falls is a stunning hike up from the floor of Yosemite Valley up to the valley rim! It is one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever done and ended up being close to 10 miles with a 3,500 feet elevation gain. The hike is about 4.5 miles of straight uphill and so the descent can feel quite long as it is steep with lots of switchbacks and steps. We ended up hiking past the Yosemite Falls trail end point and continued on to Yosemite Point to get an even better view of Half Dome! I would highly recommend continuing onto Yosemite Point to get the best view since you have already made it that far. It’s probably another two miles total making the hike about 10 miles.

This hike takes you to the tallest waterfall in the continental US and gives you incredible views of the Valley throughout the hike. I would not recommend it for people who aren’t in good shape. Bring lots of water and food on the hike as it can take most of the day! It can be fairly busy, but I would say the difficulty of the hike keeps a lot of people away. I would highly recommend this hike to see beautiful views of Half Dome and the Valley!

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