Hike to Upper Yosemite Falls

Valley View Parking Lot - Search Nearby - Added by Tiffany Nguyen

Strenuous 6-8 mile round trip hike with 2,700 feet of elevation gain. This trail has very sparse crowds compared to some other more well-populated hikes in the Yosemite Valley. Go early in the spring time to see the waterfall at its maximum flow.

You can find the trailhead to Upper Yosemite Falls near Camp 4. There is plenty of free parking here and you can also take a shuttle to stop #7. Be sure to start this hike early in the day as it is strenuous and can get really hot as the day goes on. Bring plenty of water and snacks and take many short breaks due to the steep ascent on the way up. The first mile of the hike is pretty much exclusively switchbacks. This first mile should take about an hour at which point you’ll reach Columbia Rock. At the top of Columbia Rock, enjoy sweeping views of the Yosemite Valley highlighting Half Dome and Awahnee Meadow.

After a relatively easy half mile, you’ll reach the first view of the bottom of Upper Yosemite Falls. At this point, the trail gets much steeper as you must ascend many switchbacks on your way to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. Be aware of loose gravel on the trail. While most of this part of the hike is exposed to the sun, there are occasional shaded areas to rest and enjoy the many different vantage points of Upper Falls and Half Dome in the distance. Hike for another 1.5 miles and follow the signs to Upper Yosemite Falls Overlook.

When you finally reach the top, soak in the stunning panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley. Go to the left and follow the guardrail down to the mouth of the falls. If you’re lucky you’ll even be able to catch a rainbow in the thundering falls while peering over the edge. Walk back up the railing and have lunch by the natural pools. To return to the trailhead, exercise caution as you return the same way you came. Please note that the National Park Service forbids swimming in the falls. 

Distance

8 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

2700 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Photography, Swimming, Hiking

Easy Parking
Scenic
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Nearby Lodging

From $152/night

High Sierra Camps

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

From $219/night

Yosemite Valley Lodge

9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive

From $108/night

Housekeeping Camp

Yosemite Valley, California

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Half Dome Village

Yosemite Valley, California

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!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

The Hike that has Everything

Beautiful views with many areas to stop and rest and enjoy the view on the way up. Leave time to explore at the top as there is much more to see. Bring a jacket as it's cold up there. The rocks, trees and river are fantastic. The downhill can be hard on the knees so consider hiking polls.

Extremely Rewarding Hike

This hike was by far my favorite I have ever done. Yosemite is a beautiful place and this hike only proved that further. Strenuous, but highly rewarding as you reach several views of the valley floor, Halfdome, Upper falls and other peaks. Highly recommend. Bring water and pack light!

Rewarding Struggle

We did this hike mid-April. After the insane amount of rain California got this winter and early spring, there's definitely still snow at the top of this trail, but it's melting quickly. It's basically 3 or so miles straight up, so the hike is challenging, but the rewards are worth reaping. Along almost every switchback is a breath-taking view of Yosemite, and a great trail where you can get up close to the falls.

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