Hike to Upper Yosemite Falls



8 miles

Elevation Gain

2700 ft

Route Type


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. 

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Know for

Easy Parking
Swimming Hole



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🥈 Contributor

about 5 years ago

Spectacular Viewpoints!

If you want to see an incredible view of Upper Yosemite Falls and Half Dome in the background, this is the hike to do. About halfway up the trail is an incredible viewpoint. You will know it when you see it. And of course, the top of the falls... breathtaking....

This place is pretty rad AF, actually the whole park of Yosemite is superb! Hiking Upper Yosemite Falls is challenging never the less is beautiful. Any angle you're going to get a rainbow during daylight. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes while going and bring lots of water and snacks. Happy Hiking! Instagram @jnblvnco

Love the report but have to point out an irresponsible suggestion. The spot where swimming is recommended is not safe and people get swept over almost routinely. Be careful near waterfalls, they run harder than you'd think.

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