At 2425 feet tall, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America and is one of the most famous landmarks of Yosemite National Park. Conveniently located just west of Yosemite Village (where the Visitor Center and other facilities are located), Yosemite Falls consists of the impressive 1430-tall upper fall, several middle cascades, and the 320-tall lower fall. While a hike up to the top of Yosemite Falls is a long strenuous adventure, a visit to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall is a family-friendly stroll that every first time visitor must do. But since this is one of the most popular landmarks in the park, be prepared to share the trail with crowds of other people.
Starting at the Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead (located 1/4 of a mile west of Yosemite Village), the easy-to-follow paved trail loops through the forested valley floor to a large hikers bridge and viewing area just south of the base of the falls. (The eastern loop of this trail is wheelchair accessible.) Because this trail sees many, many tourists, please stay on the trail to preserve the delicate Yosemite Creek landscape and vegetation.
The Lower Yosemite Falls Trail is open year-round, but the most exciting time to visit is spring to early summer when snowmelt from the high country has Yosemite Falls running at peak. (Be prepared to get slightly wet from the mist coming from the falls.) By late summer and fall, the waterfall is down to a trickle. And while this trail is officially open in winter, snow and ice can be unpredictable.
|Rating:||Short family-friendly stroll|
|Access:||Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead (Shuttle Stop 6), .25 miles west of Yosemite Village|
|Time Required:||20-60 minutes|
|Length:||1 mile for the loop|
|Elevation Change:||Mostly level (50-ft elevation gain)|
|Seasons:||Year-round. The trail is accessible in winter, but conditions can be unpredictable.|
This is one of Yosemite's hallmark tourist attractions, especially during the spring runoff when the awe-inspiring Yosemite Falls is flowing at its most powerful. The only downside is that just like the rest of Yosemite Valley, this stroll is *always* crowded. Every single tour bus and recreation vehicle wants to stop here and wave after wave of people will take this stroll. Be prepared to share the trail and viewing area with hundreds of your best friends.