Yosemite National Park features amazing natural landscapes, including waterfalls higher than a 200-story building, more than 100 lakes, gigantic towering trees, mountains and even beaches. The park is actually larger than some European countries, and almost equals Rhode Island in size. With more than 800 miles of trails, each filled with its own picturesque vista to enjoy, you might have difficulty deciding which trail to take during your stay. There are trails for every skill level, including paved trails that remain close to the populated areas, remote trails, trails that take days to hike, and trails that take less than an hour to enjoy.
Yosemite is divided into four regions: Yosemite Valley, Tioga Pass Road, Southern Yosemite, Glacier Point Road, and Hetch Hetchy and Big Oak Flat. Most of Yosemite’s most famous landmarks are in Yosemite Valley. Below are some of the best trails to hike during your visit to Yosemite.
Vernal and Nevada Falls
This hike is one of the best in Yosemite Valley, especially in the spring. Vernal and Nevada Falls are two of Yosemite’s most stunning waterfalls. You also can see some other waterfalls during your hike, including Yosemite Falls and Illilouette Fall. You start this loop either at the Mist Trail or the John Muir Trail. The easiest route begins by climbing the Mist Trail, ending at the John Muir Trail.
Half Dome is one of the most famous hikes in Yosemite, but it is not for the faint-hearted. The summit of Half Dome offers 360-degree views of the surrounding park. Most people take two days to make this hike. Day hikers need advance permits, and the cable route to the summit is only open during the summer season, from May to mid-October.
The Panorama Trail
This hike offers exciting views of many of Yosemite’s famous landmarks, including Half Dome, Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, Yosemite Falls and the rest of Yosemite Valley.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
On this trail, you walk among giant Sequoias and see some of the oldest trees in the world. This protected grove features over 300 hundred giant sequoias, some of which date back to 2,000 years ago.
Upper Yosemite Fall Hike
Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, measuring 2,425 feet from top to bottom. This trail takes you up to the top of the falls, where you can look down over the falls and the rest of the area. There are also trails among the lower part of the falls for those who want an easier hike.
The Cathedral Lakes trail, located in Tuolumne, takes you to two lakes. The first is Cathedral Lake, which sits within a glacial cirque with views of the nearby Cathedral Peak. You can stay and enjoy this lake, or you can continue on to Tenaya Lake. The trail is located at the side of Tioga Road and takes you through beautiful pine forests with views of the surrounding mountains as you walk to the lakes.
May Lake and Mount Hoffmann
Mount Hoffman sits in the park’s geographical center of the park. Hiking to the summit offers amazing views of the entire area. Those who do not want to make the trek all the way to the summit can stop at May Lake. This beautiful lake offers views of Cathedra Peak, Half Dome and Mount Clark.
Tueeulala and Wapama Falls
If you enjoy waterfalls and want to get up close and personal to one, then you should hike this trail. This trail brings you closer to Wapama Falls than any of the trails to the other falls do. The trail also takes you by the spectacular Tueeulala Falls. You also can see the Hetch Hetchy Dome and Kolana Rock in the distance.