Hike to Lower Yosemite Falls
Yosemite › Lower Yosemite Falls
Added by Tiffany Nguyen
The Lower Yosemite Falls Loop in Yosemite Valley is a leisurely walk to the bottom of the highest waterfall in North America. Enjoy views of both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. It's open year-round so you can enjoy the falls any time time of year.
At 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America. The falls consists of three sections: Upper Falls, Middle Cascades, and Lower Falls. At 320 feet, Lower Yosemite Falls is one of the most popular attractions at Yosemite National Park. This 1-mile loop is a leisurely walk with awesome views of both Upper and Lower Falls and viewing access to the bottom of Lower Falls. The paved loop trail begins at shuttle stop #6. For the best views of Yosemite Falls, consider walking the loop in a clockwise direction.
Lower Falls is open all year long, but peak water flow is during late spring and early summer after all the winter snow has melted. Visiting Yosemite in the wintertime is an entirely new and amazing experience compared to the summertime appearance that most are acquainted with. Another plus is that Yosemite Falls is much less populated in the winter as compared with the summer. Visit Yosemite Falls during the wintertime and you will find a huge mound of snow collected at the bottom of the falls.
When you get to the viewing area at bottom of Lower Falls, take some time to explore around the rocks leading to the very base of the falls. The easiest way to get to the snow filled pool is to scramble along the left side when facing the falls. After a short scramble, you will come upon the very base of the falls where the falls pound on the snow that has collected during the winter. If you’re lucky, you might see a rainbow in the mist at the very bottom of the falls. Be very careful when near the falls in the wintertime because the snow higher up on the falls can come crashing down creating a loud thundering sound.
- Hiking shoes
- Sun protection
- Warm clothes or bathing suit (depending on the time of year)
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Crowded, but another must do in the Valley
Because of it's short, paved path this walk to Lower Yosemite Falls can be very crowded. But if you go in the winter or in the rain, you might get lucky (like I did) and have the falls all to yourself.
This is an easy walk with a paved path that offers absolutely stunning views of the lower falls. While the summer months can be packed with tourists, look at the fall for less people. The closer to winter the less the falls, so do your homework.
The hike (or walk) to lower falls is easy, just be careful with climbing over rocks as it can be slippery. Because of the accessible location, expect a lot of people here especially on peak days (holidays, weekends). I suggest going early in the day as your first itinerary, then hike to the upper falls afterwards.
Falls flowing in full force!
As of April 2016, the falls are flowing strong! You'll feel tons of mist as you approach the falls, so plan accordingly. The doggies loved it! With full waterfalls comes full crowds, so if you'd like more solitude, make sure you get there very early, or go around dinner time. And a brief safety note: the rocks at the base of the falls are incredibly slick! I saw many flip-flop wearing visitors attempting to get to the very base of the falls almost fall in, which could be life-threatening. It is much more safe to view the falls from the footbridge during this time of the year, but if you must venture further, at least wear some sturdy shoes and watch your footing!
Low Effort, High Reward
Yosemite Falls, as with most waterfalls in Yosemite, don't always flow year round. The best time for seeing it in its full glory is definitely around April or May, right when the snowpack is melting and therefore the falls are in full force. However, Yosemite Falls usually flows almost year round. The view of the falls is stunning. It's a very easy hike (more like a walk) to the falls, and can be done by most people of all ages. Do be aware that it gets very crowded.
Lower Yosemite Falls is a spectacular waterfall that really puts things in perspective. Unfortunately, when I visited it was during a dry season so the falls were not flowing to their full potential, but still amazing none the less. Definitely try to avoid the crowds, as they tend to flock to this area in mid day.
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