Ever wanted to visit Yosemite National Park? These Yosemite hiking trails will definitely have you planning a trip!
If you have ever wondered, ‘is Yosemite National Park really that amazing?’, imagine that at least 4 million people choose to spend their holidays there every year. It is most definitely something worth coming for. Yosemite National Park is best known for its famous waterfalls but within its vast territory you can find beautiful valleys, giant sequoias, grand meadows, diverse wilderness, amazing wildlife spotting opportunities and tons more.
What bring most visitors though, are the 800+ miles of Yosemite hiking trails. From easy family walks to strenuous and exposed hiking challenges, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Out of the countless hikes, we have selected the best ones for you. These are the 5 Amazing Hikes in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite Valley Trail
Hiking distance: 7.2 miles
Altitude Gain: 164 ft
Time needed: 2-4 hours
The Yosemite Valley hike is one of the most walked trails in the whole park. The downside of this hike is that it’s quite crowded. But when you see the magnificent natural landscape, decorated with big grey mountains, rushing waterfalls, crystal clear rivers, and so many great panoramic views, you start to understand why everyone is drawn to the same place.
The trail itself is great for the whole family because although it’s really easy, it rewards you with great views and amazing experiences. Any hike where you can see some of the most beautiful parts of the park without breaking a sweat is worth doing. And if you think you’ve had enough, you can stop and turn back to the car park.
This Yosemite hiking trail is a great way to see exactly what the national park has to offer. So don’t worry about time, just stop at the places you find interesting and enjoy the experience. The main highlights of this trail are the famous Yosemite Falls, the relaxing views of the Merced River, and the meadows of El Capitan and Half Dome.
Want to get into hiking but don’t know where to start? Take of read of our beginner’s hiking guide
Lembert Dome Hike
Hiking distance: 4 miles
Altitude Gain: 935 ft
Time needed: 1.5-2.5 hours
Difficulty: easy to moderate
The Lembert Dome trail is an easy-to-moderate hike that takes you through a modest 935 ft of elevation gain. What’s great about this trail is that it’s one of the easiest hikes to get to a summit in Yosemite. Even though the hike is on the easier side of the scales, we would not recommend it for families with young children. The trail has a 0.75 mi section where you will have to walk on a very steep granite and it can become a little bit dangerous. It becomes worse when it gets wet. So make sure you wear boots with a good grip.
This is one of the Yosemite hiking trails to pick if you don’t like crowds. Due to the shape of the mountain, the hikers usually separate so it is really enjoyable. The trail begins by leading you up through beautiful meadows and pine forests, crossing a few water streams. The best part of the hike is the magnificent views of the Tuolumne Meadows. You can enjoy their spectacular views after you reach the summit.
If you’re doing this hike later in the day, try to wait for the sunset. This will create some of the most beautiful coloured panoramic views you’ve ever seen. But make sure you have enough time and sunlight to get down!
Looking for some vegan outdoors shoes for the hiking trail? These are great!
The Mist Trail, Yosemite
Hiking distance: 8.4 miles
Altitude Gain: 2,247 ft
Time needed: 3-6 hours
The Mist Trail Hike is a moderate hike that takes you to two of the most stunning waterfalls in Yosemite – the Vernal and Nevada Falls. Even though the trail is clear and safe during the whole way, it is more strenuous than the previous hikes we mentioned. It’s mostly due to the constant ascent and the 2.247 ft of elevation gain. This can be hard for some inexperienced hikers.
You will find out the meaning of the trail’s name right after you ascend the steep stone staircase and reach the beautiful Vernal Falls. The constant fall of the water creates a “mist-like” environment which can be refreshing during the hot days. But after a heavy snow season, this mist can become a soaking rainstorm, leaving you completely drenched. So if you’re doing this hike during the cold season, make to carry a poncho!
After you reach the top of Vernal Falls, you can enjoy the amazing view of the Nevada Falls. This is a perfect spot to finish the hike if you want to avoid the strenuous part. If not, continue to the top of Nevada Falls for the most breathtaking views of the whole trail. Here you will see some amazing panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and green forests.
Looking for more American hiking trails? Check these out for some inspiration!
Mount Hoffman Hike
Hiking distance: 6.5 miles
Altitude Gain: 2,067 ft
Time needed: 4.5-7 hours
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
The Mount Hoffman trail is a moderate-to-hard hike which takes you through a 2.067 ft of elevation gain within a fairly short distance. So the climb in some parts becomes quite steep and there’s some serious scrambling involved as well. But it’s the views that attract the hikers to do this strenuous trail. The views are even said to have been praised by the famous mountaineer John Muir, who claimed this was the best view in the whole Yosemite National Park.
The trail begins with an easy hike up to May Lake, where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful views before the hard part of the trail begins. After the lake, you will start switchbacking through a forest. Then, continue towards the towering peaks right after you elevate above the treeline. That’s where the hard part begins. Not only is it quite strenuous and exposed, but you will also need good navigation skills to find the trail. It’s especially hard if it’s still covered in snow. Be prepared to get your hands to work as some scrambling will be necessary to get to the top.
The first peak you will reach is a fake summit but do not get discouraged as the real peak of Mt Hoffman is right ahead.
Even though it’s a tough climb, this Yosemite hiking trail really rewards you when you reach the top. You will see the stunning views of the whole Yosemite National Park area around you. It’s a magnificent experience that inspired many hikers who visited this peak.
Keep your energy levels high, these vegan hiking snacks are perfect for the trail
The Panorama Trail, Yosemite
Hiking distance: 14.6 miles
Altitude Gain: 4,183 ft
Time needed: 7-9.5 hours
The Panorama Trail is a hard level hike more suited for the experienced hikers that can cope with a high level of elevation gain. The hike also takes around 9-10 hours. This 14.6 mi long hike with a 4.183 ft of elevation gain is probably the best in the whole Yosemite National Park.
It starts as the Mist trail, leading you through the beautiful Vernal and Nevada Falls. After you get soaked in the mist, you will ascend on top of the Nevada falls and be able to absorb all the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Continue via the John Muir trail which will then lead you to the Panorama Trail. Here you will begin your climb which will open up some spectacular views of the Half Dome.
From there you will start your descent towards the Illilouette Falls, where the shade will disappear and you will be exposed to the heat of the sun. Make sure to pack plenty of water and to have some cover. After another ascent, you will reach Glacier Point, which is a perfect and beautiful place for a break. The final part begins just under Glacier Point. Here you will have to switch-back your way down between sheer cliffs until you reach a beautiful forest. The trail finishes by taking you through the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.
While these are 5 amazing hikes in Yosemite National Park, they are definitely not the only ones. It would be easy to spend a whole season hiking the incredible trails in Yosemite. It’s a magnificent place where you can spend weeks and still find great hikes for every new passing day.
Take a look on 10Adventures to find even more Yosemite National Park Hikes
Yosemite National Park: 5 Yosemite Hiking Trails for Your Bucket List
A guest post by Lukas Saville from 10 Adventures