The 8 best hikes in Yosemite

“The mountains are calling and I must go."
Best Yosemite hikes


The Daily Navigator strives to help you make the best decisions in travel. While we produce content according with strict editorial integrity this post may contain references to partner products. Here’s a full explanation for how our team makes money .

This post contains one or more references to our advertisers. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. For our full advertising policy, click here.

Even the paved roads that dot the base of Yosemite make you feel like you’ve entered another world. Looking up at some of nature’s most fascinating skyscrapers, including the alluring El Capitan and Half Dome, is humbling. From morning to night, light hits the park’s peaks to create an ever-changing view you can’t take your eyes off of. Yosemite National Park, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, is a playground for the adventurous. The dizzying array of Yosemite hikes lands you in front of ferociously beautiful waterfalls, up single-track terrain that opens to calm waters for wading through, and along the edges of intense granite cliffs that reveal the vast valleys rich with ancient sequoia trees below. 

Due to limited access—with reservations required to enter the park—Yosemite avoids overcrowding on the trails, which ultimately lends itself to a more pristine landscape. Whether you’re looking for something leisurely the whole family can enjoy, or the most challenging option to put your athleticism to the test, these are the best hikes in Yosemite to try. 

Sentinel Dome Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Best for: Hikers who want an easy hike with impressive views of Yosemite Valley and the surrounding mountains
Known for: A short, easy hike to the top of Sentinel Dome, which offers 360-degree outlooks of the surrounding area
What to expect: Anticipate an effortless hike to the peak of Sentinel Dome, featuring sensational panoramic vistas of Yosemite Valley and the neighboring mountains. This is an excellent alternative for individuals seeking a simple hike that still shows off the magic of the park. Sentinel Dome provides sublime outlooks of Yosemite Valley from a distinctive vantage point and is an exceptional location to observe the sunset.

Yosemite Valley Loop Trail

Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Best for: Hikers who want to see many of Yosemite’s iconic landmarks, but don’t want a very challenging hike
Known for: Panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan
What to expect: Get ready for an effortless to moderately challenging hike that offers commanding sights of Yosemite Valley and its prominent landmarks. This is an ideal trail for individuals who desire to take in numerous highlights of the park without enduring too much exertion. The trail traverses several of Yosemite’s most well-known spots, such as Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome, making it a great hike for sightseers.

Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulin

Difficulty: Moderate
Best for: Hikers who want to experience Yosemite’s high country and alpine scenery
Known for: Views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the glistening Tuolumne River, and the beautiful waterfalls at Glen Aulin
What to expect: Anticipate a moderate hike that features outlooks of the Tuolumne River and the Sierra Nevada mountains. You’ll encounter numerous waterfalls on your journey and will have the opportunity to take a refreshing dip in the river at the end. The hike leads to Glen Aulin, which was christened after a character in a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson was moved by the monumental beauty of Yosemite’s high country, which he vividly described in his writing.

Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls

Difficulty: Moderate
Best for: Hikers looking for beautiful waterfalls and scenic views without too much strenuous uphill hiking
Known for: Close proximity to Vernal and Nevada Falls, as well as the misty hike that takes you to the top of the falls
What to expect: Anticipate a moderate hike that shows off the splendor of Yosemite’s towering waterfalls, with a refreshing and misty ascent to the top of the falls. However, be mindful of the crowds and potentially slippery terrain near the falls. The Mist Trail derives its name from the spray that emanates from the waterfalls, which can make for an invigorating and rejuvenating hike up to the top.

North Dome Hike

Difficulty: Moderate
Best for: Hikers who want to experience sweeping scenes of Yosemite Valley from a unique perspective
Known for: A moderate hike to the top of North Dome, which offers eyeshots of Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and surrounding mountains
What to expect: Be ready for a moderately challenging hike to the peak of North Dome, where vistas of Yosemite Valley from a distinctive angle await. The hike begins at Tioga Road near Porcupine Creek and takes hikers through a pine forest before reaching the granite dome. From the top of North Dome, hikers will see El Capitan, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and the Yosemite high country. 

Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point

Difficulty: Strenuous
Best for: Experienced hikers who want a challenging uphill hike with breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley
Known for: Stunning panoramic views of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point, as well as the challenging uphill climb to get there
What to expect: Be ready for a demanding and arduous uphill hike to reach the Glacier Point lookout, featuring majestic views of Yosemite Valley throughout the trek. This hike is perfect for experienced hikers seeking both a challenge and picturesque vistas of the park. The Four Mile Trail, despite its name, is almost five miles long and involves an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet en route to Glacier Point.

Panorama Trail

Difficulty: Strenuous
Best for: Hikers who want to experience a long, challenging hike amid the prime landscapes of Yosemite Valley
Known for: Views of Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, Illilouette Falls, and remarkable panoramas of Yosemite Valley and the high country
What to expect: Be prepared for a demanding and challenging hike that offers lovely vistas of Yosemite Valley and the high country. This is a lengthy trek that takes you by numerous famous monuments and gorgeous backdrops of Yosemite Valley and the high country. The trail begins at Glacier Point, then leads hikers down the valley via the Mist Trail. Along the way, hikers can observe views of the iconic Half Dome, Liberty Cap, and Nevada Falls. As the trail descends further into the valley, you’ll catch glimpses of El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.

Half Dome Hike

Difficulty: Strenuous
Best for: Experienced hikers in good physical shape who are comfortable with heights
Known for: The iconic Half Dome formation and the thrilling climb to its summit via cables
What to expect: Be prepared for a demanding and difficult ascent to the peak of one of Yosemite’s most renowned landmarks, with awe-inspiring views of the park throughout the trek. The hike is a long and challenging one, involving steep switchbacks and an exhilarating climb up the Half Dome cables. It’s worth noting that the Half Dome cables are erected for just a few months each year, typically from late May to early October, and hikers must acquire a permit to scale them.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

Become a Travel Expert

Once weekly destination travel guides delivered to your inbox for free.

Related Stories

No more posts to show

Built with ❤️ by travelers, for travelers.

© 2024 Dollar Flight Club Inc. All Rights Reserved

Stay in the know with
The Navigator Newsletter

A five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers. Past Edition

A five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers. Past Edition

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The relationship may impact how an offer is being presented. Our site doesn’t include all the offers available. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

DFC Partner Perks App Link Image
Special Discounts for Our Members

Save Big with Perks

Get $5,000+ in immediate travel savings with Perks. Unlock next level travel benefits, for life. Get discounts from the world’s best travel brands you won’t find anywhere else. No credit required.

DFC Concierge App Link Image
Special Discount for Our Members

93% off lifetime access

Save $1,200 and 10 hours of your time on every vacation. With Lifetime access to DFC Concierge, get fully customized trip itineraries to make every vacation unforgettable.

Dollar Flight Club App Link Image
Special Discount for Our Members

50% Off PREMIUM

You can save up to $500 on your next adventure without lifting a finger get email alerts when we find flights up to 90% off leaving your home airport. Just let us know your departure airport and we’ll do the rest.

The Navigator Commitment

The Daily Navigator is the cornerstone of the DFC Media family. Through each of our brands, we’re dedicated to helping our readers travel, spend, and live smarter.

With products dedicated to affordable travel, daily news, hospitality, and personal finance, we deliver the day’s essential content with none of the filler — all in a way that’s fast, easy, and fun to read. Every morning, over 2 Million travelers trust DFC to deliver the latest news and information so that they can make informed decisions faster. We hope you’ll join them.

We’re happy to have you here!