JOE’S GUIDE TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARKCitrusMilo.com
YOSEMITE FAVORITE HIKES AND VIEWPOINTS

Yosemite National Park hikingWith over 800 miles of trails, Yosemite National Park has a wide range of hiking opportunities ranging from short family-friendly hikes to longer strenuous day hikes and long remote backpacking trips in the wilderness. Several roadside viewpoints scattered throughout the park also offer outstanding views with little effort beyond fighting for a parking space. Bring the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map with you to find your way through the different sections of Yosemite National Park.

Click on any of the hikes below for full descriptions and photos. IMPORTANT: You are responsible for your own safety. It is up to you to decide and determine if a trail or route is appropriate for you and plan for your hike accordingly.

Hiking symbols used for descriptions:
a Yosemite classic YOSEMITE CLASSIC: a must-do hike if you want to see the best of Yosemite!
family-friendly FAMILY-FRIENDLY: a good choice for those with children who like to hike.
backpacking route BACKPACKING: a route enjoyable as a multi-day hike.
very strenuous and/or difficult route DIFFICULT: a very strenuous and/or exposed route that may require special attention and/or navigation skills. Not suitable for casual hikers.

BRIDALVEIL FALLBridalveil Fall
Rating: short family-friendly stroll. a Yosemite classicfamily-friendly

Bridalveil Fall is one of the most famous and recognizable waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, welcoming visitors as they first enter Yosemite Valley. While Bridalveil Fall can be seen from many prominent roadside viewpoints as you drive in from the north or south (most notably the famous Tunnel View along Wawona Road), there is also a short paved trail that you can hike to get close to the base of the falls. Bridalveil Fall flows year round, but it is most impressive in spring and early summer when snowmelt adds to its awesome beauty!
Trail Information  Photos

LOWER YOSEMITE FALLLower Yosemite Fall
Rating: short family-friendly stroll. a Yosemite classicfamily-friendly

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.
Trail Information  Photos

THE MIST TRAIL (Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, John Muir Trail)The Mist Trail
Rating: fairly strenuous to strenuous day hike. a Yosemite classic

The Mist Trail is one of the amazing quintessential hikes in Yosemite National Park. Starting at the Happy Isles Trailhead, the ingeniously-constructed trail ascends out of Yosemite Valley, working its way up the narrowing gorge of the Merced River. Along the way, hikers enjoy close-up views of two of Yosemite's iconic waterfalls: Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. During the high-flow early summer months, the Mist Trail earns its name, often drenching hikers from all of the spray coming from the falls. For the return hike, the alternative John Muir Trail offers a drier and more gradual descent with sweeping views of the Nevada Falls pantheon.
Trail Information  Photos

HALF DOME (via the Mist Trail)Half Dome
Rating: very strenuous hike with exposure near summit. a Yosemite classictechnical canyoneering or climbing route

What is the most iconic and recognizable rock formation in Yosemite National Park? Half Dome! What peak serves as a beacon and can be seen from all over Yosemite National Park? Half Dome!! What is the most famous and strenuous day hike in Yosemite that includes the intimidating cables near the summit? Half Dome!!! What hike in Yosemite is so overwhelmingly popular that in 2011 the National Park Service had to implement a permit and quota system to eliminate the dangerous crowding and gridlock along the route? HALF DOME!!! For the fit hiker who is up for the physical and logistical challenges, this is an amazing and worthy adventure.
Trail Information  Photos

MIRROR LAKEMirror Lake
Rating: family-friendly stroll. family-friendly

Mirror Lake is one of Yosemite's most popular tourist destinations, located in the northwest corner of Yosemite Valley at the mouth of Tenaya Canyon. During the spring runoff, Tenaya Creek floods and forms several beautiful lakes that are indeed quite reflective, especially in the morning light. But since Mirror Lake is conveniently located in the heart of Yosemite Valley with several hiking trails and a paved biking road leading right to it, be prepared to share the sights with many other people.
Trail Information  Photos

UPPER YOSEMITE FALL TRAIL (and Yosemite Point)Lower Yosemite Fall
Rating: moderately strenuous to strenuous day hike. a Yosemite classic

While just about every visitor to Yosemite Valley takes the short stroll to see Lower Yosemite Fall, a visit to the top of the falls is a much more strenuous adventure. The Yosemite Falls Trail (Upper Yosemite Fall Trail) is a clever constructed trail that zigzags its way up and around faults and ramps to the rim at the top of the falls. From 3000 feet above the valley floor, hikers can enjoy awe-inspiring views of the surrounding area and those who are willing to hike a bit further to Yosemite Point are also treated to some classic views of Half Dome. For those looking for a shorter adventure, a hike just to Columbia Rock offers good views from 1100 feet up.
Trail Information  Photos

DISCOVERY VIEW (Tunnel View)Discovery View
Rating: roadside viewpoint.

Located along Wawona Road (Route 41) heading south up and out of Yosemite Valley, Tunnel View (also known as "Discovery View") is one of the most famous roadside viewpoints in Yosemite National Park, offering up a classic Ansel Adams view that is one of the best of the park. From the viewing area, you can get a wondrous view of Yosemite Valley several miles in the distance, framed by El Capitan on the left (north) and Bridalveil Fall on the right (south). On a clear day, Half Dome can be seen in the center of the frame with Clouds Rest to the left and Sentinel Dome above on the right.
Trail Information  Photos

EL CAPITAN and EAGLE PEAK (from Big Oak Flat Road)El Capitan and Eagle Peak
Rating: strenuous to very strenuous hike.

El Capitan is one of the most famous and recognizable granite monoliths in Yosemite, with its intimidating 3000-ft tall sheer vertical wall that stands across from Bridalveil Falls and welcomes awe-struck visitors into Yosemite Valley. While famous climbers like Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell have made careers out of climbing up the face of El Capitan, mere mortals can take the long hiking trail to get to the top of the formation. A through hike from Big Old Flat Road up to El Capitan and nearby Eagle Peak and down the Yosemite Falls Trail makes for a long and rewarding trek though some beautiful backcountry scenery.
Trail Information  Photos

MARIPOSA GROVE OF GIANT SEQUOIASLower Yosemite Fall
Rating: family-friendly stroll to strenuous hike. a Yosemite classicfamily-friendly

The Mariposa Grove is the largest and most famous grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park and has been a large tourist draw for over a century and a half. With over 500 mature sequoia trees, some over 2000 years old, the idea of the National Park System can be traced back to the desire to protect the grove. For modern-day visitors, several trails allow you to walk in the shadows of these magnificent giants, including the famous "Grizzly Giant," "Faithful Couple," and the now-fallen "Wawona Tunnel Tree." Hiking options range from a family-friendly stroll to a long and strenuous hike all the way up to Wawona Point.
Trail Information  Photos

GLACIER POINT (and Washburn Point)Glacier Point
Rating: short family-friendly stroll. a Yosemite classicfamily-friendly

Located on the southern rim high above Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point is one of the most famous and awe-inspiring overlooks in Yosemite National Park and it's also one of the few viewpoints that you can drive to. From Glacier Point, you can get a 180-degree view of many of Yosemite's famous landmarks, from Yosemite Falls to the northwest to Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall to the east. As one of Yosemite's most famous and accessible tourist spots, be prepared to deal crowds and parking headaches, especially during the summer tourist season.
Trail Information  Photos

TAFT POINT and SENTINEL DOMEGlacier Point
Rating: easy to moderately strenuous day hike. a Yosemite classic

While most tourists who drive the Glacier Point Road are intent on going all the way to the popular Glacier Point, the Sentinel Trailhead is located roughly two miles from the end of the road and is the starting point for a hike to two scenic and easily accessible viewpoints. Taft Point is an amazing viewpoint along an exposed ridgeline with sheer vertical cliffs that offer amazing views down into Yosemite Valley. Sentinel Dome is the inconspicuous highpoint far above Glacier Point that offers panoramic views in all directions. A hike to either or both landmarks makes for a wonderful and not-too-strenuous day hike with even more inspiring views found along the connecting section of the Pohono Trail.
Trail Information  Photos

PANORAMA TRAILPanorama Trail (Glacier Point to Happy Isles)
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike. a Yosemite classic

There are several longer trails that start at Glacier Point and wander back down into Yosemite Valley. The Panorama Trail is probably one of the most famous hikes, heading southeast away from Glacier Point to offer inspiring views of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall from above as well as the backside of Half Dome. Along the way, the trail crosses Illilouette Creek just above the impressive Illilouette Fall, and at an old spot known as Panorama Point, hikers can take in one of the best views looking down into Yosemite Valley. A hike along the Panorama Trail to the John Muir Trail ending at the Happy Isles Trailhead makes for a great day hike.
Trail Information  Photos

TUOLUMNE GROVE OF GIANT SEQUOIASTuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias
Rating: easy to moderately strenuous hike. family-friendly

While the Mariposa Grove is the largest and by far the most popular grove of large sequoias in Yosemite National Park, the Tuolumne Grove is probably the second most visited grove. Located west of Yosemite Valley near Crane Flat and the junction of Big Oak Flat Road and Tioga Road, the grove consists of a handful of large sequoias scattered in a tall and dense pine forest of Douglas firs and sugar pines. The most notable landmark of this hike is a morbid curiosity--the Dead Giant Tunnel Tree, the stump of a fire-scarred sequoia that was tunneled out in 1878 to attract more tourism.
Trail Information  Photos

OLMSTED POINTOlmsted Point
Rating: roadside viewpoint and short stroll. a Yosemite classicfamily-friendly

Located along Tioga Road in the heart of Yosemite high country north of Yosemite Valley, Olmsted Point is one of the more prominent roadside pullovers and viewpoints. Named after Frederick Olmsted Sr. and Jr., this is a worthy spot to get out of your car and take in the views of the surrounding area. Olmsted Point offers a wonderful straight-shot view down Tenaya Canyon with Clouds Rest high in the foreground and Half Dome far in the distance. A short 10-minute hike takes you to a little viewpoint that gives you an even better view.
Trail Information  Photos

TENAYA LAKETenaya Lake
Rating: roadside landmark and short stroll. a Yosemite classicfamily-friendly

One of the standout landmarks along Tioga Road is the beautiful Tenaya Lake. Surrounded by bare granite peaks in all directions, from Tenaya Peak to the east to Polly Dome and Pywiack Dome to the north, Tenaya Lake tempts all tourists driving by to pull over and relax for a bit. Located roughly 2 miles east of Olmsted Point, several roadside parking areas provide access to different sides of the lake. Whether you want to take a stroll along the shore, have a relaxing picnic along the shore, or go kayaking, Tenaya Lake is one of the "jewels of the high country."
Trail Information  Photos

NORTH DOME and INDIAN ROCKNorth Dome and Indian Rock
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike.

North Dome is one of the more prominent dome formations located far above the northern side of Yosemite Valley and it stands directly across from the face of Half Dome. Hikers who reach the top of North Dome are treated to amazing views in all directions. While you can hike up to North Dome from Yosemite Valley (usually as a strenuous backpacking trip up the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail or Snow Creek Trail), hiking to North Dome from Tioga Road makes for a more manageable day hike through Yosemite's forested high country. Along the way, a side trip to Indian Rock allows hikers to see a beautiful and rare granite arch formation.
Trail Information  Photos

CLOUDS REST (from Sunrise Trailhead)Clouds Rest from Sunrise Trailhead
Rating: strenuous day hike.

With an elevation over 1000 higher than Half Dome and massive bare walls that slope thousands of feet down into Tenaya Canyon, Clouds Rest is an impressive peak that can be seen from all over the park, including Tunnel View and Olmsted Point. While it is possible to hike from Yosemite Valley up to the summit of Clouds Rest, the strenuousness of the 16-mile round trip with 6000' of elevation gain will discourage all but the strongest hikers. A hike in from Tioga Road to the north makes for a more reasonable day hike through some beautiful wilderness scenery. The final push up the narrow and exposed ridgeline is a thrilling experience.
Trail Information  Photos

MAY LAKE and MOUNT HOFFMANNMay Lake and Mount Hoffmann
Rating: moderately strenuous to strenuous day hike.

With an elevation over 1000 higher than Half Dome and massive bare walls that slope thousands of feet down into Tenaya Canyon, Clouds Rest is an impressive peak that can be seen from all over the park, including Tunnel View and Olmsted Point. While it is possible to hike from Yosemite Valley up to the summit of Clouds Rest, the strenuousness of the 16-mile round trip with 6000' of elevation gain will discourage all but the strongest hikers. A hike in from Tioga Road to the north makes for a more reasonable day hike through some beautiful wilderness scenery. The final push up the narrow and exposed ridgeline is a thrilling experience.
Trail Information  Photos

LEMBERT DOME and DOG LAKELembert Dome and Dog Lake
Rating: easy to moderately strenuous day hike.

Located along the long and meandering Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows is the crown jewel of Yosemite high country, and this large high-elevation meadow serves as the gateway for many backcountry adventures from day hiking, backpacking, and climbing. One of the many pleasant and fairly easy hikes in the area is the hike to Dog Lake and Lembert Dome. Dog Lake is a tranquil alpine lake surrounded by grassy banks and open views, and Lembert Dome is the nearby granite formation whose imposing vertical face looks over Tioga Road. A hike to either or both makes for a great day in the high country.
Trail Information  Photos

HETCH HETCHY to WAPAMA FALLSHetch Hetchy to Wapama Falls
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.

Located a few miles north of Tioga Road near Olmstead Point, May Lake is one of the more popular high-country lakes to visit in Yosemite and it is also the site of one of the famous High Sierra Camps. A day hike to May Lake makes for a fun and fairly easy adventure thanks to the short trail with moderate elevation gain. But looming 1500 feet above the lake to the west is the impressive Mount Hoffmann. For those looking for a longer and more strenuous adventure, hiking up the southeast slope to the summit is a lung-busting undertaking that rewards hikers with top-of-the-world views of the surrounding area.
Trail Information  Photos

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