Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world, and for good reason. With its stunning granite cliffs, towering waterfalls, and breathtaking views around every corner, the place feels truly magical. It’s no wonder that hikers flock to find the best hikes in Yosemite National Park every year.
Yes, Yosemite is a wonderful place to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, making it an ideal spot to take a scenic hike. Not only that, but there are hikes for all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are plenty of hikes in Yosemite that will take your breath away.
Of course, you can’t do every hike the park has to offer in a single visit, and you will definitely have to pick and choose. So what are the best hikes in Yosemite? Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork for you and curated a list of options to choose from.
RVs For Rent Near Yosemite
Where to stay near Yosemite
When it comes to a base camp for the best hikes in Yosemite, we’re partial to the Oudoorsy Yosemite camping and glamping locale. It features full hook-up RV spots and well-equipped cabins — all on the shores of Bass Lake.
The Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park
Half Dome Hike
Let’s start with the ever-popular Half Dome Hike. This 14–16 mile hike is considered one of the most challenging hikes in Yosemite National Park. That said, it’s also one of the most rewarding, making it totally worthwhile if you’re a person who is able to tackle those challenges.
The trail takes you to the top of Half Dome, a granite dome that rises nearly 5,000 feet above the valley floor and provides absolutely stunning views of the surrounding area. It is one of the best ways to get gorgeous views of the park.
It’s important to note that the final ascent involves climbing up a series of cables, something that certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Because of this climb, this hike is not recommended for those with a fear of heights. It also isn’t ideal for anyone who isn’t physically fit and with plenty of hiking experience under their belt.
Mist Trail Hike
Next on our list, the Mist Trail. This is a popular and scenic hike that takes you past two of Yosemite’s most iconic waterfalls: Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, giving you some breathtaking views of the majestic power of the falls as well as some incredible photo opportunities.
This 6.4-mile round-trip hike is relatively moderate and can be completed in about four or five hours by anyone who is relatively physically fit. Because of this, we think it is one of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park for kids.
Keep in mind, you will want to be prepared to get wet from the mist of the waterfalls, especially in the spring and early summer when the water flow is at its peak. A waterproof jacket or poncho isn’t a bad idea!
Upper Yosemite Falls Hike
We all know how important it is to check out the mighty Yosemite Falls while visiting Yosemite National Park. Why not get super up close and personal by hiking the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?
As the name suggests, this strenuous 7.2-mile round-trip hike takes you to the top of Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. The trail is steep and challenging, but the views from the top are absolutely worth the effort. Additionally, you will get some cool waterfall photo ops and you might even see a bear or two along the way!
The best time to do this hike is in the spring when the water flow is at its peak, but it can be done year-round. Just be extra careful if the trail happens to be snowy when you visit, as there are some sheer drop-offs along the way!
If you’re looking for a hike with panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, the aptly named Panorama Trail is for you. This 8.5-mile hike begins at the top of Glacier Point and takes you down into Yosemite Valley. Along the way, you can see three iconic landmarks: Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls.
The trail is relatively easy, making it a good pick for novice hikers and even many kids. That said, the length of the trip can be challenging for some. Therefore, you will want to give yourself plenty of time to take breaks as you complete the hike, and be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks as well.
Note: It is recommended that hikers take a bus to Glacier Point and hike down rather than parking at Glacier point and attempting to take a bus back up.
Four Mile Trail Hike
The Four Mile Trail is a classic Yosemite hike that takes you from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point. It provides gorgeous views all along the way, as well as at the top.
This 9.7-mile round-trip hike is steep and challenging, and it will take around 6.5 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level. The elevation gain is challenging for many and you will want to plan for some breaks along the way. All that said, many will tell you that the views from the top are absolutely worth the trek up there.
Four Mile Trail is usually open from late spring to early fall. It does sometimes become impassable due to rock falls, so you will want to check with a ranger on the status of the trail before you head out.
Sentinel Dome Hike
Last on our list of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park is the Sentinel Dome Hike. This moderate 2.2-mile round-trip hike takes you from Glacier Point to the top of Sentinel Dome, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls. It might just give you the best bang for your buck in terms of reward for your effort.
The trail is relatively flat, making it a good option for families with children or those looking for a shorter hike. In fact, it’s another one that makes our list for the best hikes in Yosemite National Park for kids.
Want to make this hike a little more difficult? Consider tacking it onto the aforementioned Four Mile Trail.
What are the best hikes in Yosemite National Park? Well, we think these six are a good start. That said, Yosemite National Park offers some of the most spectacular hiking trails in the world, so there are many other fantastic trails scattered throughout the park, waiting for you to find them.
Whether you prefer the challenging ascent of Half Dome to the scenic Mist Trail, there is a hike for everyone in Yosemite, so grab your hiking boots and hit the trails to experience the beauty of this iconic national park!
Of course, you will need a place to stay as you explore this amazing place. That’s where a Yosemite RV rental and the Outdoorsy Yosemite campground come into play!