8 Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park

Sunburst at half dome at sunrise with a clear blue sky

Easy Hikes in Yosemite National Park

  1. Glacier Point
  2. Taft point
  3. 4 Mile Trail to Glacier Point
  4. Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point
  5. The Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls
  6. Half Dome Hike
  7. Mirror Lake
  8. Bridalveil Falls

For our 1 day Itinerary to Yosemite NP click HERE

Some things to be aware of when visiting the park.

Peak Hours Reservations

Horse-Tail Falls

1. Glacier Point

You can take a bus here or drive and hike around as far as you like.

Although Glacier Point isn’t classified as a hike there is so much to do there to spend some time. Glacier Point is one of the Easy Hikes in Yosemite National Park. Glacier Point is one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in the world. Located at an elevation of 7,214 feet, it offers a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, and the surrounding mountains. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the park. To reach Glacier Point, visitors can drive or take a shuttle bus from Yosemite Valley. The drive takes about an hour, and the shuttle bus operates from late spring through early fall. Once you arrive, a short hike from the parking lot takes you to the viewing platform.

The View

The view from Glacier Point with half dome on the left and vernal falls, and Nevada falls with the mist trail on the right with a blue sky at Yosemite national park

The view from Glacier Point is truly awe-inspiring. The sheer granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan rise majestically from the valley floor, while the Merced River winds through the meadows below. The towering waterfalls, including Yosemite Falls, are visible from miles away. Visitors can spend hours gazing at the stunning landscape, taking in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

View from glacier point at sunrise with sunbeams emanating from behind half dome, lighting up the valley at Yosemite national Park
Half Dome at sunrise

We have been there many times but our favorite is watching the sunrise. It will be really quiet and there might only be a couple of other people there. Note: The road to Glacier Point is closed from Sept.-Oct. until May depending on the weather. There may be construction on the road that will create delays.

Sunrise at Glacier Point with a Sunburst at the top of half dome at Yosemite national Park
Half Dome at sunrise

More Easy Hikes in Yosemite National Park

There are many hikes in Yosemite to fill up your 2nd or 3rd or 4th day. Pick one or more depending on your fitness and skill level.

Your Complete Guide: One to Three Days

For Hiking Yosemite in Yosemite

2. Taft Point

2.2 miles round trip

The hike to Taft Point is a moderate 2.2-mile round-trip trek that takes hikers through the forested terrain of Yosemite. The trail starts at the Taft Point Trailhead, located near Glacier Point Road, and follows a well-marked path that ascends through the forest to the viewpoint. As you approach Taft Point, the trail begins to open up, and the view becomes more and more spectacular. At the endpoint, hikers are greeted with an expansive view of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and the surrounding mountains.

One of the highlights of Taft Point is its famous granite fissures, known as “The Fissures.” These narrow cracks in the rock are a popular spot for adventurous hikers to walk along, offering a thrilling and unique experience.

Hikers at Taft Point with the valley below, and clouds with a blue sky at Yosemite national Park
Taft Point

3. 4 Mile Trail to Glacier Point

The trailhead for the 4-Mile Trail is located in Yosemite Valley, near the Swinging Bridge picnic area. From there, hikers begin a steady ascent through the forest, climbing over 3,200 feet in elevation to reach Glacier Point.

The trail winds through a variety of terrain, from shady forests to rocky switchbacks, providing hikers with diverse scenery and challenging terrain. Along the way, hikers will be rewarded with stunning views of Yosemite Valley and the surrounding mountains, including the towering Half Dome. This 9.6-mile round-trip trek is a very strenuous hike so be prepared with proper hiking gear, plenty of water, and a sturdy pair of hiking boots. The trail can be steep and rocky at times, but the views and experience are well worth the effort.

4. Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point

This challenging hike takes you up 3,000 feet in elevation gain over 7.2 miles round trip, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

The trailhead starts near Camp 4, and it’s best to start early in the morning to avoid crowds and the hot sun. The first part of the hike is a steady uphill climb on switchbacks, offering views of the Yosemite Valley floor and the surrounding granite cliffs. As you continue, you’ll reach the first overlook, Columbia Rock, where you can take a break and enjoy a beautiful view of Half Dome and the valley below.

View from Columbia Rock with the upper Falls cascading down the cliff with pine trees in the foreground and half dome in the background at Yosemite national Park
Upper Yosemite Falls

From Columbia Rock, the trail becomes steeper and more challenging, with sections of steep stairs and rocky terrain. But don’t let that discourage you – the views only get better as you climb higher. As you reach the top of Yosemite Falls, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the waterfall cascading down the granite cliff.

Continue up the trail for another mile to Yosemite Point, where you’ll be rewarded with an expansive view of the valley floor, Half Dome, and the surrounding peaks. This is a great spot to have a picnic lunch or just take a break and enjoy the view. This is a strenuous hike so be prepared and take plenty of water.

At the top of Yosemite Falls with the water cascading over the cliff and a view of the valley below at Yosemite national Park
Upper Yosemite Falls

5. The Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls.

3 miles round trip to Vernal Falls, 6.5 miles round trip to Nevada falls

The Mist Trail is a 6.5-mile round-trip hike that is known for its steep elevation gain and breathtaking views. The trail begins at the Happy Isles trailhead and winds its way up the side of the mountain. As you start the hike you can see the Vernal Falls in the distance.

There is white water around the boulders in the stream with vernal falls in the background, surrounded by the green pine trees
Vernal Falls from the footbridge

There are more than 600 steps cut into the rock on the way to Vernal Falls. As you approach the falls, be mindful of wet steps due to mist. Watch your step for safety.

Vernal falls, cascades over a cliff with the 600 steps cut into the rock on the mist trail in Yosemite national Park
Vernal Falls and the Mist Trail as seen from Glacier Point with a telephoto lens
The steps up to Vernal Falls with hikers on the steps
On the Mist Trail
Vernal falls cascades over the cliff with people on the viewing platform with trees and blue sky in the background
Vernal Falls

It is another 1.5 to Nevada Falls, which stands at a towering height of 594 feet. The hike to Nevada Falls matches the challenge of the portion to Vernal Falls, offering dry steps. The powerful waterfall resonates for miles. Approaching the falls reveals a stunning panoramic view of the landscape. It is a strenuous hike that will take 6 to 7 hours to complete so it is important to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and sturdy hiking shoes, as the trail can be slippery and rocky in places.

Nevada falls cascading over a cliff with people watching from the top and the bridge on the missed trail in the background
Nevada Falls from Glacier Point taken with a telephoto lens

6. Half Dome Hike This is a hard, strenuous hike

Photo from glacier point showing the route to take to get to the half dome hike with a cloudy blue sky

Hiking to Half Dome up the cables is an iconic and challenging trek that offers unparalleled views of Yosemite National Park. The Half Dome hike is a 17-mile round trip with 4,000 feet of elevation gain (depending on your starting point) that takes hikers through some of the park’s most breathtaking scenery. The hike to Half Dome is not for the faint of heart. It requires a permit, which must be obtained in advance, and a significant amount of physical endurance. Hikers should be prepared for a long day on the trail, with a recommended start time of 5-6 am to avoid the crowds and heat.

The hike begins at the Happy Isles trailhead and follows the Mist Trail, passing Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. After leaving the Mist Trail, at the top of Nevada Falls, (see Mist Trail Hike above) the hike levels out for a bit before it becomes steeper and more challenging as hikers approach the subdome at the base of Half Dome.

Bridge at the top of Nevada Falls on the way to the subdome on the hike to half dome, showing the path and pine trees with puffy, white clouds at Yosemite national Park

The final ascent involves climbing up steep granite slabs using metal cables for support, which can be daunting for even experienced hikers.

You made it!

But the effort is worth it. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, including Half Dome’s iconic shape, the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Merced River snaking through the valley below. The summit of Half Dome is a great place to take a break, enjoy a snack, and take in the stunning scenery before descending the cables.

It is important to note that hiking to Half Dome up the cables requires a permit, which must be obtained through a lottery system. Apply here The cables are also only up from late May to early October, and hikers should always check weather conditions before attempting the hike. Check here

Photo taken from the tunnel view showing half dome with stormy clouds around it
Half Dome
Half Dome with the cables at Yosemite national park with a cloudy blue sky
The Cable section

7. Mirror Lake

2.2 miles round trip

Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park is another Easy Hikes in Yosemite National Park and a popular destination for those looking for a scenic hike and a peaceful escape from the busy crowds. When we hiked it in March we only saw 6 other people. The hike to Mirror Lake is a moderate, 2.2-mile round-trip trail that takes about 1-2 hours to complete. The trail to Mirror Lake starts at Shuttle Stop #17, near the Ahwahnee Hotel.

Mickon the Mirror Lake Hike with her hiking staff on a stone path through the trees at Yosemite national Park
The Mirror Lake Trail

From the shuttle stop, the trail winds through meadows and forests, and along the Merced River. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to see stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The hike follows the river which flows through the trees and over boulders at Yosemite national park on the mirror lake hike
On the Mirror Lake Trail

When we got to the lake it was beautiful with ice on the lake and snow on the peaks.

The mirror Lake sign with the ice covered like in the background at Yosemite national Park
Mirror lake
Mirror Lake, covered in ice with the mountain in the background at Yosemite national Park
Mirror Lake with ice

8. Bridalveil Falls.

a .8 mile out & back hike

Remember, as you plan your trip and before your visit check the park conditions , Here

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