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Our Top 25 Yosemite Hikes For All Ages

Last updated on April 24th, 2022 at 05:48 am

Yosemite Hiking Trails

A number of the most well-known and ideal hikes in the National Park system can be found in Yosemite National Park. There are at least 280 Yosemite hikes lead directly from waterfalls to giant sequoias to unbelievable summit views; there is something for every sort of hiker who wants to explore Yosemite National Park. It has everything from simple, paved hiking paths to grueling trails that rise up and out of the valley, and we span the complete hiking range in this trail guide so that you can organize your next excursion with confidence. We want you to pick one of the best hikes in Yosemite, but we also want you to pick one that is appropriate for your fitness level. We concentrate on only the very best trails that are given a 5 star rating.

Why You Should Visit Yosemite Hiking Trails

Traveling to Yosemite National Park has been one of my favorite experiences so far. Backpacking one of the best hiking trails in Yosemite has been the most enjoyable way to fully appreciate the park. As a result, I decided to make a list of some of the best Yosemite trails. As a result, you will have an useful and straightforward tool for your stay the next time you visit the area.

The trails mentioned below are some of the most popular in Yosemite, and if you’re searching for new hiking options in California, be sure to check out our links at the bottom of the page for more details on those as well. Other iconic California walks, including some of my preferred California hiking and camping trails and favorite California 14ers (14,000-foot peaks), are also offered, some of which are only a daytrip from the Yosemite hikes you are about to experience! Please also refer to this list of important license and booking deadlines for some of the most famous treks in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, which includes some of the state’s most popular spots.

In order to make it easier for you to navigate the list of Yosemite trails, I’ve divided them into categories based on their difficulty. This allows you to jump right to the section you’re interested in if you’re looking for a more demanding (or less demanding) day trip to one of the best hiking trails in Yosemite. For the sake of starting with the most difficult trails first, I chose to begin with a few of my absolute favorite trails in Yosemite that are also among the most difficult.

To sum up, if you’re looking for the best hikes in Yosemite, you don’t need to look any further than the bottom of this page; don’t get me wrong, the park has a plethora of possibilities. We’ve put everything through its paces and tested it thoroughly!

Yosemite’s magnificent hikes cover approximately 800 miles in total, and they provide breathtaking views of mountain ranges and waterfalls along the way. Walking to the top of Half Dome can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, and it is always done with the assistance of a trained tour guide (for the strongest and most experienced hikers).  The High Sierra Camps provide tents, lodging, and meals for hikers on long-distance Yosemite trails, allowing you to travel with a significantly lighter pack weight than you would otherwise be able to.

Yosemite Point - Best Hikes In Yosemite National Park

The Yosemite Trails Are Great for a Variety of Reasons

If you follow a plan designed to show you the best of Yosemite National Park while choosing trails that are less used by other visitors, you will be able to avoid the throngs of tourists.

At the beginning of your vacation, give yourself permission to relax and take pleasure in it. With a variety of routes to choose from, you can go at your own pace in our first trek, which will be moderate in difficulty and provide you with time to rest before moving on to more difficult terrain.

To learn more about the Yosemite Conservancy’s important work, consider taking part in an educational guided stroll through the historic Ahwahnee village. In addition to learning about Native American way of life and heritage, as well as the park’s preservation projects, you will gain an understanding of the park’s critical work.

The majority of hikers in Yosemite prefer to forego traditional camping spots, which is a popular choice among them. As an alternative, they choose to stay in a remote mountain setting with breathtaking views instead.

Visit the state’s oldest continuously operating saloon, which features an impressive collection of vintage mining equipment, as well as a few bullet holes in the walls of the building’s interior, to get a feel for life during California’s gold rush era.

Are Yosemite Hikes a Good Fit for Your Lifestyle?

Because this is a walking trip, you’ll want to make sure that you’re in good condition so that you can participate in all of the events that the park has to avail while you’re there.

Summers in Yosemite National Park are scorching, but you can expect cooler nights and possibly rainy weather while visiting the park during the summer months. It is critical to wear clothes and hike in shoes that are suitable for the environment in which you will be working or playing.

Throughout the duration of this article, we’ll take you on a comprehensive tour of the Yosemite hikes that are available to you. You may also be shocked by some new locations, although we make every effort to only include the best hikes in Yosemite on our list. Every day will be a delightful surprise as you choose one of the many Yosemite trails to explore. On rare occasions, however, there may be a problem, such as rain, which must be addressed. We believe it is for this reason that the term “adventure travel” got its well deserved name.

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Our Top 10 Hard 5 Star Yosemite Hiking Trails

Hard Yosemite Hikes #1. Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail

1. Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail

Wow, that was a great hike! It’s my first time doing the winter route, and it’s definitely difficult. After leaving Clarke Point, you’ll travel down to Vernal Falls before returning up to Nevada. Bring spikes, plenty of water, snacks, and a lunch if you plan on hiking. Aside from that, if you leave early, you may have the entire top of Nevada Falls to yourself!

Length: 6.0 mi
Elevation gain: 2,162 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Forest, Partially paved, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Hard Yosemite Hikes #2. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

2. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Hike was a pain in the ass. It is highly recommended that you bring a good walking stick for the descent. The majority of the ice is near the top. Although most people did not use spikes, it is not a bad idea. There will be plenty of water on the way up. On the way out of the park, I was able to photograph the firefall. The close-up view of the waterfall was absolutely breathtaking.

Length: 7.6 mi
Elevation gain: 3,218 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs,

Hard Yosemite Hikes #3. Half Dome vis John Muir Trail

3. Half Dome vis John Muir Trail

One of the most difficult, yet ultimately rewarding hikes I’ve ever undertaken. It’s a moderate ascent at the beginning and an excellent hike after that, but after a couple of miles, you’ll reach half dome. Because the cables are down, there are no crowds, but the climb is a little more difficult. It was only a Prusik knott and a harness that kept me safe on the rock face during my climb. It is definitely doable; however, keep in mind that the cables are heavy and the process is a little technical; however, if you do your research, you should be fine.

Length: 15.0 mi
Elevation gain: 5,193 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Forest, Partially paved, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, Fee, No dogs

Hard Yosemite Hikes #4. Clouds Rest Trail

4. Clouds Rest Trail

This was an absolutely beautiful trail! I started at 3 p.m., which was ideal because everyone was descending from the summit at the time. I arrived at Cloud’s Rest at 5 p.m. and had the place to myself, complete with breathtaking views. Even though there was a slight haze in the air, it didn’t interfere with the views. The trail was clear on the way back, and it took 1 hour and 37 minutes. As a result, the total travel time is 3 hours and 37 minutes. I was jogging and hiking at the same time, so plan on taking more time if you are only hiking. This hike comes highly recommended by me!

Length: 14.0 mi
Elevation gain: 3,166 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping,  Hiking, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, Fee, No dogs, Hard Yosemite Hikes #5. Yosemite Point

5. Yosemite Point

The trail was absolutely breathtaking. The view of the waterfall was absolutely stunning. Being on the ledge above the waterfall was even more spectacular. In February, there was a lot of snow on the trail, so I would suggest going in the spring or summer when the trail is a little easier to see and navigate through. Yosemite Point is approximately a mile away once you have reached the top of the waterfall’s cascade.

Length: 8.5 mi
Elevation gain: 3,635 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, Views, Waterfall, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Hard Yosemite Hikes #6. El Capitan

6. El Capitan

This trail lives up to the expectations of those who have visited it. Begin at the Yosemite Falls trailhead, in Parking/Camp 4 (see map below). At the check-in shack, make a note of your name and license plate number. Begin walking up and to your right, in the direction of the waterfalls. When you arrive at Upper Falls, you will want to take a look around and spend some time there because the scenery is breathtaking. It’s about 3ish miles to that location, with a lot of elevation gain and rock walking. We continued on to El Capitan, which was another 5 miles away. Foresty up and down, with the majority of it being up. The views on the way up and from the top are spectacular. It was well worth it.

Length: 15.4 mi
Elevation gain: 4,799 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Forest, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Hard Yosemite Hikes #7. Mount Hoffman Trail

7. Mount Hoffman Trail

This is a strenuous hike. The section leading to May Lake is straightforward. After that, the trail becomes steep and difficult to navigate at certain points in the distance. All Trails is a must-have in my opinion if you want to stay on the trail for the long haul. The final section of the climb to the summit of Mount Hoffman consists of some non-technical climbing.

Length: 5.6 mi
Elevation gain: 1,912 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, Off trail, Fee, No dogs

Hard Yosemite Hikes #8. Panorama Trail

8. Panorama Trail

Excellent trail with a plethora of incredible features. There are two beautiful backpacking camps along the Illiouette River, about 3 and 5 miles into the loop, that are well worth the trip. There are numerous animal tracks and scat on the trail. It is not well traveled by the throngs of humans who come to the park to enjoy its beauty.

Length: 9.0 mi
Elevation gain: 2,257 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Running, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Hard Yosemite Hikes #9. Yosemite Grand Tour

9. Yosemite Grand Tour

The hike up the four-mile trail was difficult, with numerous switchbacks and a steep ascent. As soon as you reach glacier point panorama trail’s summit, the scenery is beautiful and the I Falls are refreshingly cold! Next, you climb a short distance to Nevada Falls and then to Vernal Falls, both of which are breathtaking. Emerald Lake, which is close to Vernal Falls, was a wonderful place to stop for a while. The Mist Trail was a difficult rocky descent. I was relieved that we wouldn’t be going up! We ended up adding about 1.5-2 miles to and from camp because the shuttles were not working. It was an amazing hike.

Length: 16.0 mi
Elevation gain: 4,350 ft
Route type: Loop

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Hard Yosemite Hikes #10. Snow Creek

10. Snow Creek

AWESOME TRAIL! Although challenging, if you have completed Upper Yosemite Falls / Cloud’s Rest / Four Mile, you should be able to complete this hike. Views from lower Tenaya Canyon that are not available from many other locations, such as a panoramic view of the Mirror Lake trail without the crowds of tourists. I didn’t notice the bear at all.

Length: 8.7 mi
Elevation gain: 2,979 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, Lake, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Our Top 10 Moderate 5 Star Yosemite Hiking Trails

Moderate Yosemite Trails #1. Young Lakes Trail

1. Young Lakes Trail best hikes in yosemite

The scenery at the lowest lake is spectacular, but the majority of the available campsites have already been taken (this was Friday afternoon). I found a fantastic campsite near the middle lake and set up camp for the night there. The hike out to Roosevelt Lake is a must-do. There is no clearly marked trail, but it is simple to navigate using a GPS. Views that are nothing short of spectacular. Don’t forget to check out the upper Young Lake, which has incredible scenery and insane viewpoints on nearby rocks from which you can see all three Young Lakes as well as some truly breathtaking sunset vistas.

Length: 13.5 mi
Elevation gain: 1,922 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Lake, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #2. Lake Eleanor Hike

2. Lake Eleanor Hike best hikes in yosemite

Originally, I hiked in from the parking lot at Cherry Lake, but I’ve since driven to the trailhead, which is more convenient. Despite this, it is a long drive away from civilized areas. As a last resort, I backpacked around the lake, which took three days due to the rugged terrain and lack of a trail. The hike in to Lake Eleanor is well worth it once you get there. It is quite pristine, with islands that are covered in pine trees. In addition, the scenery is breathtaking.

Length: 5.5 mi
Elevation gain: 649 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Walking, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Fee, No dogs,

Moderate Yosemite Trails #3. Nelson Lake Trail

3. Nelson Lake Trail best hikes in yosemite

It was a fantastic hike. There’s some good elevation here. Once you arrive, you will be greeted by beautiful weather and a beautiful lake. Clean and unambiguous. This area is ideal for fishing and swimming.

Length: 11.1 mi
Elevation gain: 2,565 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #4. Glen Aulin

4. Glen Aulin

The trail was fantastic, and it was partially shaded for the entire 12 mile day trip. We were the only ones who came for a day trip, as the majority of people had purchased passes and camped. The parallel parking in Soda Springs was simple, and the visitor center, which was just a few hundred yards down the road to the east, had restrooms.

Length: 12.6 mi
Elevation gain:1,148 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #5. High Sierra Camp Loop

5. High Sierra Camp Loop

An all-time favorite in Yosemite, with fantastic trails and campsites. Making you reconsider your summer vacation plans to Yosemite Valley because after doing this hike, you will only want to do this hike again. Due to the fact that each camp is approximately 8 miles apart, it is not difficult to travel between them.

Length: 47.3 mi
Elevation gain: 8,126 ft
Route type: Loop

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, Lake, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #6. North Dome

6. North Dome

Excellent Hike! Finale with a fantastic lookout! The last quarter of the trail is quite steep. (in order to reach the summit of the north dome). For the majority of the hike, you’ll be in pine trees. About 3.5 miles into the hike, you’ll come across a spectacular 360-degree panorama. Also, the view from behind Indian Rock is well worth the difficult ascent.

Length: 10.4 mi
Elevation gain: 2,024 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #7. Young Lakes Trail Loop

7. Young Lakes Trail Loop

This is an incredible location. Backpacked up the Glen Aulin trail and returned via the Dog Lake trail (clockwise loop). However, the views from the dog lake trail were spectacular, even though the ‘easiest’ route is via Glen Aulin back and forth. Overall, it was a moderately difficult hike to get up there, but nothing too strenuous. The three lakes were stunning, with the top one taking the cake as the most spectacular.

Length:
14.5 mi
Elevation gain: 2,545 ft
Route type: Loop

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #8. Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

8. Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne yosemite trails

This is an incredible loop! I’m not sure what other authors are talking about when they say there are only a few camping spots available… there are a ton of them all over the place. It is only necessary to deviate a few feet from the trail. There is also a lot of water everywhere. Morrison Creek is currently flowing and should continue to do so for the remainder of the season.

Length: 30.8 mi
Elevation gain: 5,774 ft
Route type: Point to point

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Forest, Lake, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #9. Little Yosemite Valley

9. Little Yosemite Valleyyosemite hiking trails yosemite hiking trails

This trail is absolutely stunning. Leaving from Happy Isles, we hiked up the Mist Trail, spent the night in LYV, and returned down the John Muir Trail the next day. We’d recommend doing it this way because the stairs on the Mist trail are narrow and can become slick, making it easier to climb up them this manner. Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water, especially near Nevada Falls, which is near the end of the trail. It was a fantastic backpacking trip!

Length: 7.4 mi
Elevation gain: 2,398 ft
Route type: Out & back

Yosemite National Park Backpacking, Yosemite National Park Camping, Hiking, Forest, Partially paved, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Moderate Yosemite Trails #10. Sentinel Dome Trail

10. Sentinel Dome Trail yosemite hiking trails

If Glacier Point Rd. is open, which it was not due to frosty conditions from the night before, this is a fantastic hike. So check with the park rangers at the entrance to Yosemite to see if it’s open before making a final decision… Otherwise, this is one of the most beautiful views in Yosemite!

Length: 2.1 mi
Elevation gain: 456 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Our Top 5 Easy 5 Star Yosemite Hiking Trails

Easy Yosemite Hikes #1. Olmsted Point Nature Trail

1. Olmsted Point Nature Trail yosemite hikes

It was the perfect way to cap off my final day in Yosemite. I had the entire point to myself when the sun went down. The views are absolutely breathtaking. It was sprinkling lightly, with a thin layer of cloud cover. The short trail is easy to navigate and is a great way to unwind after hiking Clouds Rest. Keep an eye on your children because there are some steep drop-offs on the plateau.

Length: 0.4 mi
Elevation gain: 55 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Easy Yosemite Hikes #2. Lower Yosemite Falls Trail

2. Lower Yosemite Falls Trail yosemite hikes

If you are willing to travel further along the loop, the trail begins to open up, allowing you to see more of the mountains and thereby increasing the distance between you and where you are going on your trip. Only a low 5 stars for me because there isn’t much to see along the trail after the falls, and it is over in a short amount of time. People climbed right up to the waterfall, which added to the beauty of the scene.

Length: 1.2 mi
Elevation gain: 59 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Walking, Forest, Lake, Paved, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildlife, Fee

Easy Yosemite Hikes #3. Dog Dome and Dog Lake

3. Dog Dome and Dog Lake yosemite hikes

Beautiful, although the all trails map appeared to deviate slightly from the real map trail near the lake, but not significantly.

Length: 3.0 mi
Elevation gain: 643 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Walking, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Easy Yosemite Hikes #4. The Four Mile Trail From Glacier Point Trailhead

4. The Four Mile Trail From Glacier Point Trailhead

This trail is incredible! There is a lot of hiking involved, but the view from the Glacier Point is well worth it. If you’re not in a rush to get back to your car, hike up to the Sentinel Dome, where the view is even better!

Length: 5.0 mi
Elevation gain: 190 ft
Route type: Point to point

Kid friendly, Hiking, Bird watching, Forest, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Easy Yosemite Hikes #5. Taft Point and The Fissures

5 Taft Point and The Fissures

The most spectacular views! I can’t say enough good things about this hike. I’m speechless. The hike itself was very short and easy to complete. And the views from the vantage point are breathtaking!

Length: 2.3 mi
Elevation gain: 367 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs


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1. Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail