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The 6 Best Hikes In Yosemite National Park

Looking for great day hikes in Yosemite? I wouldn't want you to miss out on the best hikes in Yosemite, so here are a few of my favorites.

By: Kyle Frost + Save to a List

Taft Point

Taft Point offers one of the most majestic views of Yosemite Valley. If you can time it right, make it out there in time for a sunrise or sunset. It's only 2.2 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain. The reward is a sheer cliff face with stunning views of El Capitan and Yosemite Valley. Keep in mind that Taft Point has become extremely popular in recent years as a short hike and great photo spot, so you likely won't be alone.

The Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls

I'd consider this the ultimate Yosemite classic. It's not my personal favorite, but it's a stunning hike. It's about 6 miles round trip to the top of Nevada Falls, with an elevation gain of 2000 ft. If you want to cut it shorter, the top of Vernal Falls is only 2.4 miles round trip. The iconic "Mist Trail" winds up rock steps to the top of Vernal, and depending on the day you might be soaking wet from the spray of Vernal Falls.

Cathedral Lakes

Cathedral Lakes is accessed from Tuolumne Meadows, about a hours drive from Yosemite Valley but still in the National Park. This 8 mile hike (round-trip) through the high-alpine is a stunning introduction to the incredible landscapes around Tuolumne. 

Mount Hoffman

Another incredible hike in Tuolumne is Mount Hoffman. This hike isn't the easiest, but at 6 miles round trip and 2000 ft of elevation gain, it's not too bad. However, you're likely to see far fewer people than at many of the more popular hikes around Yosemite National Park. The reward from the top is a mind-blowing panorama of the High Sierra. Definitely stop for a dip in May Lake on your way back!

Half Dome

I'd be remiss to omit what is probably Yosemite's most well-known hike. At between 14-16 miles round-trip (depending on where you start), it's not for the faint of heart. Many hiker will tackle the 4800ft of elevation up the trail and the infamous Half Dome cables to the summit in 10-12 hours (or longer, or shorter, depending on your fitness level). You'll have to apply for a permit to hike Half Dome, as the park service limits the number of people on the cables each day. If you do get a slot, it's truly a bucket-list experience!

The Four-Mile TrailPanorama Trail

In my opinion, this is the best bang-for-your-buck option in the valley. You get a bit of everything in this loop. It's 16.3 miles total, with 4400 ft of elevation gain, so definitely not a short day, but definitely worth it. You'll start in the Valley, taking the Four-Mile Trail up the side of the canyon wall, with incredible views the whole way. The Four-Mile Trail ends at Glacier Point, where you can grab a snack and be annoyed by all the tourists that drove up instead of hiking. From here, the Panorama trail meanders back down to the valley by way of Illouette Gorge, Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls. There are a ton of places to cool off in the water after Glacier Point. The trail is just absolutely the best day hike in the park, with views of El Capitan, both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Illouette Falls, Half Dome, Nevada Falls and Vernal Fall in just one loop.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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