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Top 5 Hiking Trails in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park has hiking trails for every activity level. Here are the best of them.

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Yosemite isn’t just another national park—it was the first protected land in the US and the basis for what would ultimately become the National Park Service. Experience the park’s epic beauty—including stunning waterfalls—by hiking these trails.

1. Sentinel Dome Trail

Hikers in summer take in the iconic view of Sentinel Dome Trail.
Hikers check out the views from Sentinel Dome.Foto: gsgman777 / Tripadvisor

2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers)

While the trail itself isn’t too difficult, the altitude of Sentinel Dome makes it a little tougher for hikers who haven’t acclimatized to the elevation. The trailhead is at 7,700 feet (2,347 meters), and the trail tops out at over 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). The reward of panoramic views make it a popular hike, as does its short round-trip distance.

2. Mist Trail

Hikers explore the golden rocks on the Mist Trail in Yosemite.
Mist Trail on a sunny day.Foto: Benny Marty / Shutterstock

2.5 miles (4 kilometers)

This moderate Yosemite trail is named for the fact that you’re sure to get covered in mist while hiking it. That is, of course, if you make it all the way to the top of Vernal Fall—a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) round-trip hike that’s one of the park’s most popular routes. To leave the summer crowds behind, continue on to Nevada Falls for a strenuous, 5- to 6-hour hike that climbs just over 2,000 feet (609 meters).

3. Four Mile Trail

Snow on a high-alpine trail on Four Mile Trail in Yosemite.
Stunning views from Four Mile Trail in Yosemite.Foto: cb_travel / Shutterstock

4–10 miles (6–16 kilometers)

Despite the relatively harmless name, Four Mile Trail is actually closer to 10 miles (16 kilometers) long if you hike it round-trip. However, considering it climbs 3,200 feet (975 meters) in less than five miles (eight kilometers), many travelers opt to drive to the top of the trail at Glacier Point before hiking one way down to the Yosemite Valley floor. It’s a popular day hike, offering a view that looks out at iconic sights such as Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Falls, and the Half Dome summit.

4. Yosemite Falls Trail

Lots of hikers enjoy the spray of Yosemite Falls Trail.
Waterfall sprays the hikers on Yosemite Falls Trail.Foto: Cassiohabib / Shutterstock

2–7 miles (3–11 kilometers)

Ranging in distance depending how far you go, the Yosemite Falls Trail offers perfect views of America’s tallest waterfall. The round-trip hike to Columbia Rock takes about 2.5 hours, whereas the climb to the top of Yosemite Falls is a 6- to 8-hour journey.

5. Half Dome Trail

A hiker in a blue jacket takes on a via ferrata on Half Dome Trail.
Climbing the staircase on Half Dome Trail.Foto: Tyler Meester / Shutterstock

14.2 miles (22.7 kilometers)

Without question, Half Dome is one of the most visually stunning and epic American hikes, one steeped in wilderness and a journey that every outdoor enthusiast should experience. You can visit parts of it on a guided hiking trip, or choose a tour that involves summiting Half Dome and conquering its rickety cable system to the top (permit required). Because of the elevation gain and rugged terrain, the Half Dome Trail is the most difficult hike in the park and is only for fit and very experienced hikers.

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