Hiking in Yosemite National Park

(Crowd Factor Scale = to )

(Difficulty Factor Scale = Easy / Moderate / Strenuous

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Yosemite National Park Hiking Trails

Bridalveil Falls Trail
DISTANCE: 0.5 mi / 0.8 km (round trip)
ELEVATION GAIN: 0.5 mi / 0.8 km (round trip)
Hike to this often-windswept waterfall
Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
DISTANCE: 1 mi / 1.6 km (entire loop)
ELEVATION GAIN: 50 ft / 15 m
Stroll to the base of the Yosemite Falls
Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Strenuous
DISTANCE: 7.2 mi / 11.6 km (round trip)
ELEVATION GAIN: 2700 ft / 825 m
One of Yosemite's oldest historic trails.
Cook's Meadow Loop Trail
DISTANCE: 1 mi / 1.6 km (entire loop)
ELEVATION GAIN: 0 ft / 0 m
A short, easy walk with amazing views!
Mirror Lake Trail
DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate
DISTANCE: 5 mi / 8 km (entire loop)
ELEVATION GAIN: 200 ft / 60.9 m (loop)
It's a lake, it's a river, it's a meadow!
Valley Loop Trail
DISTANCE: 11.5 mi / 18.5 km (full loop)
ELEVATION GAIN: Mostly flat - hill and dale
Circumunavigate the valley on one trail!
Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Trails
DISTANCE: 5.4 mi (8.7 km) round trip (via Mist Trail)
ELEVATION GAIN: 2000 ft / 609.6 m
If you don't hike anything else do this one!
Snow Creek Trail
DISTANCE: 9.4 mi / 15.1 km (round trip)
ELEVATION GAIN: 2700 ft / 825 m
One of Yosemite's oldest historic trails.
Four Mile Trail
DISTANCE: 4.8 mi / 7.7 km (one way)
ELEVATION GAIN: 3200 ft / 975 m
Four Mile trail offers some of the best views.

What are good hikes to take in Yosemite?

I am often asked by our guests what are the best hikes to take. To answer the question I normally like to speak with our visitors to get an idea of their hiking experience, physical condition, and mental outlook. So without speaking with you directly I will leave it up to you to make a personal assessment of your abilities, desires and strengths.

The park offers many kinds of hiking exeriences. On average, about 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. The park set a visitation record in 2016, surpassing 5 million visitors for the first time in its history.


The park's elevation ranges from 2000 feet to 13,114 feet (600m to 4,000m), containing groves of Giant Sequoia trees many over 2,000 years old, to breath-taking valleys carved by glaciers. The highest waterfall in America can be found here, as well as alpine meadows filled with rivers, cascades, lakes, and wildflowers.

Half Dome and El Capitan rise from the central glacier-formed Yosemite Valley, as does Yosemite Falls, North America's tallest waterfall. Three Giant Sequoia groves and vast wilderness are home to diverse wildlife.

Yosemite National Park spans portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in Northern California. The park covers an area of 1,168.681 sqare miles, and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.

The park contains over 800 miles of hiking trails mostly through wilderness. While the Yosemite Valley has some pretty accessible and flat trails, most trails in the park are steep and challenging.

So you see answering what good hikes to take would depend on what you want to see, how fit you are, and how equiped you are. For more technical information on knowledge, and equipment click here for my article on hiking Yosemite.

A Few Things to Remember While Hiking:

  •   Stay on trails: taking shortcuts causes trail erosion--and is both dangerous and illegal.

  •   Carry (and drink) plenty of water: a leading cause of injuries on the trail is dehydration. Be sure to treat or filter river, stream, lake, or spring water. Do not confuse sugary sports drinks with water! Carry water.

  •   Pets and bicycles are only permitted on roads and paved bike paths.

  •   Horses and mules have the right of way on trails.

  •   Right of way, I personally give the right of way to hikers coming uphill as I go down, especially when they have back backs on!.

  •   Pack out what you pack in. Don't litter!

  •   Trails are not regularly maintained nor are they regularly patrolled: travel carefully and at your own risk.

  •   Smoking while traveling on trails is prohibited, though you may smoke while stopped except when fire restrictions are in effect. (Crush out and dispose of cigarette butts in your personal trash bag to pack out. Yes cigarette butts are litter and are poisonous to animals as they break down.)

Below is a gallery with some wonderful hikes out of Yosemite Valley. Enjoy, and happy trails!