Hike the Panorama Trail

17 miles 3200 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Todd Gordon

See Half Dome, Vernal, Nevada, and Yosemite Falls. This hike combines the Glacier Point and the Mist Trails. You'll also get to see Illilouette Falls with spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset.

The Panorama Trail is an outstanding hike that takes you from the Yosemite Valley floor up to Glacier Point. Or you can hike it downhill going from Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley. You can camp and make it an overnight trip or do it as a day trip by leaving a car at one end and taking a park shuttle to the other. If you stay overnight, be sure to grab a permit.

The hike is beautiful from spring to fall and can offer once in a lifetime views during winter. Head out there earlier in the season if catching the waterfalls at their fullest is your goal. The ends of the trail can be quite popular with the middle section thinning out.

The Panorama Trail begins at the trailhead for the Mist Trail in Yosemite Valley near Curry Village. From there, the Mist Trail will take you past Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. Another option is to take a section of the John Muir Trail at a fork just past the Vernal Fall footbridge. The Mist Trail is steeper but a bit shorter than the John Muir Trail.

Once you get to the top of Nevada Fall, the Panorama Trail continues west to Illilouette Creek, where you will cross a bridge. From here on out it’s a climb up to Glacier Point with beautiful views of Half Dome and the waterfalls below.

For a quick little detour to a great view you can head out to Panorama Point. About a half-mile beyond the Illiouette Creek bridge there is an unmarked trail that will take you out to Panorama Point where you can see the back of Half Dome rising above the Valley. Be careful out there as the point doesn’t have guard rails anymore due to rock fall.

If you’re interested in taking a different trail back to Yosemite Valley, you can take the Four Mile Trail which offers views of Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. Sentinel Dome is a nearby hike that could be done as a day trip.

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Overall rating: 

Best Bang for your Buck in the Valley

I recommend this hike for everyone going to Yosemite. It's the best bang-for-your-buck. You get amazing views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and the Mist Trail all in one stunning (long) day hike. I would suggest taking this trail in the opposite direction though- start by going up the 4 Mile Trail to Glacier Point and finish with the mist trail. That way the views keep getting progressively better as you go. Spring is the best time to hike as the falls are spectacular. Pro tip- bring your wallet! Getting a cold drink or ice cream at Glacier Point store is so satisfying after hiking straight up 4 Mile from the valley floor.


over 4 years ago

Beautiful Valley Views With Minimal Crowds

We hiked this section from Glacier Point. We were making our way to Tuolumne Meadows in a three night backcountry trip. Take the tour ride up. It's worth hearing the parks history. We camped the first night right off the panorama trail besides Iillilouette Creek. The next morning we hiked out and began our trek via the panorama trail towards Half Dome. It was moderately flat and had beautiful views of the valley. We didn't see a lot of folks on the trail near glacier point so it is a nice getaway, especially from the hectic activity in the valley. We ran into more as we came to Little Yosemite Valley near the falls. What I love about hiking this: you can see where you are going. We saw half done the entire time and each curve of the trail brought a different vantage point. We obviously had a map for our trip ( and I would highly advise to bring one) but we could see where we were going at all times. It has a very open skies feel.


🥇Top Contributor

over 5 years ago

If you do the quick route and park up at the trailhead (a couple miles past Sentinel Dome/Taft Point) it can get pretty crowded. It's definitely worth stopping to check out, but make sure to leave yourself some time to hit Taft Point as well.


🥇Top Contributor

almost 6 years ago

The best day-hike in the valley. If you're planning on doing the full loop, I'd recommend doing it counter-clockwise, starting with the 4-Mile trail up to Glacier Point, then continuing down the Panorama Trail and finishing on the Mist Trail. You can catch a shuttle bus in the morning to Camp 4 and walk across the meadow to the 4-mile trailhead. You'll finish at Happy Isles, an easy place to catch a shuttle or walk back to Curry Village for a post hike pizza and beer.

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