Yosemite needs no introduction. Internationally famous for its soaring granite cliffs, deep valleys, ancient redwoods and huge waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is one of the best places in the world to hike. This list is just some of our favourites, and by no means exhaustive- we would recommend checking out Alltrails before you arrive to plan out your hiking days. And, be sure to arrive early- with over 4 million visitors a year, Yosemite can be seriously busy, so if you are looking to escape the crowds, we recommend getting a super early start and adventuring as far from the trailheads as you can before lunch!
Hiking Half-Dome is on many travellers lists when they come to Yosmite, however the difficult permit system and incredibly busy trail can make it unappealing. A little shorter and less intense than Half-Dome, this 14 mile return day-trip trip is rated as difficult and will see you complete 2,800ft in elevation gain. A beautiful winding trail with amazing views of Half-Dome and the Yosemite valley makes this one of our favourite day hikes in the park- a great option for those who have missed out on half-dome or don’t want to wake up to wait in line for a permit. The top section of the Clouds Rest hike is over an exposed ridge, so if you have an aversion to heights, you may want to skip this one. We recommend getting on the Sunrise Lakes trailhead on Tioga Road, which makes it a 14 mile return- Make sure you bring plenty of water, as this hike is very exposed on a summer day. Trail Map HERE
UPPER YOSEMITE FALLS
This 7.6mile up and back hike starts in the valley, so you will initially see large crowds, however they will disperse as you head further up and the trail gets more difficult. The earlier you can start this one the better! You will see 2,600 of elevation gain to the top of Yosemite Falls, and can continue on to Yosemite Point to make it a total of 3,000ft. This is a beautiful trail that will walk you through the spray of Yosemite Falls and allow you to take a photo of of both the falls and half-dome in one shot. Your hike will start at the Lower Yosemite Falls Trailhead, so depending on where you are camping you can park at the day-use parking lot just south of Yosemite Village, or take the shuttle to the trailhead.
THE POHONO TRAIL
If you are looking for a day hike that will touch on all of the best highlights of Yosemite, this is it. This 13 mile point to point trail along Yosemite Valleys south rim, will give you a birds-eye view of everything Yosemite is famous for, but not without pushing you through 3,700 feet of elevation gain if you include Sentinel Dome (3,400 without it). Glacier Point road is open from Mid- May to November, and while the waterfalls will be bigger the earlier you go, this trail is a must-do anytime it is open. The trail starts at Glacier Point and heads to Tunnel View- we would only recommend going this direction, as it is much more gruelling the other way. Transport is definitely the hardest part of this hike- our recommendation would be to book the Glacier Point Tour Bus, which leaves from Yosemite Lodge at 8:30am or 10am, and goes to Glacier Point and Tunnel View. Drop your group at Yosemite Lodge to get on the bus for the tour, and then go and park at Tunnel View. Get your group to ask your tour driver to pick you up on the way to Glacier Point (sometimes they do it on the way back to Yosemite Lodge). Jump off at Glacier Point, and hike back to your car at Tunnel View.