Tips on finding the best Yosemite day hikes are brought to you by our friends at RoM.
Granite walls stand proud in Yosemite National Park, breaking up an expansive valley floor that’s blanketed in wilderness. At this 128-year-old park, over 750 miles of trail are available to park visitors to explore the region, from short walks in the woods to a strenuous trek over a certain iconic sloping rock. Whether you’re looking for a challenge of a relaxing stroll, Yosemite’s popular day hikes will bring you into some of the most stunning sections of the park.
Here are 5 Yosemite day hikes you don’t want to miss
It was on these trails, over 100 years ago, that John Muir felt inspired to pen the words to his sister Sarah, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Find out why Muir felt inspired to spend years protecting and preserving Yosemite Valley. Lace up your hiking boots and fill up your pack with enough snacks to last you from five to 15 miles. If you’re sporting the RoM Pack, leave the blanket at home. Transform the backpack into a picnic blanket once you arrive at your lunch spot.
The Granite behemoth is the most recognizable feature at Yosemite National Park. Towering 4,800 feet above the valley floor, the sloping rock is a marvel to behold — and even more impressive once you’re standing on top of it. The 14.8 mile out and back trail is not for the faint of heart. Near the summit, hikers must follow the steel cable section which aids them along the last 400′ of granite to Half Dome’s summit. If you’re in shape, allocate 10-12 hours for this Yosemite day hike, and enjoy every minute of it.
If the elevation gain doesn’t get you, the glacial-carved granite views will. This 5-mile round-trip hike covers 3,175 vertical feet (roughly 1270′ per mile), and takes hikers to the top of Yosemite Falls. Once at the top, hikers can enjoy the gut-twisting overlook above the falls. There are options for those who want to see the falls but don’t want to walk straight uphill to see them. Both the Middle Cascade and Lower Falls are accessed at different parts of the Yosemite Falls trail.
Alpine Lakes are arguably one of the most beautiful natural constructions. Especially when they’re surrounded by jagged mountain spires and wildflowers. Visiting Cathedral Lakes in the spring can almost guarantee both these things. The 8.6 mile roundtrip day hike has relatively low elevation gain (1,551 feet), however, the trailhead sits at 8,600′. Cathedral Lakes is a backpackers paradise.
Mirror Lake-Valley Loop Trail
For a moderate, low elevation Yosemite day hike, the Mirror Lake Loop provides views of the Yosemite Valley and towering rock formations. Hiking in the summer means an abundance of wildflowers, and on still days, an epic reflection of Half Dome in the water. Yosemite’s free shuttle bus drops off riders at the trailhead for added convenience. At 5-miles round-trip, and only 265 feet of elevation gain, Mirror Lake Loop is a low-key option with big rewards.
Tuolumne Grove Trail
Farther back in the park is the less trafficked Tuolumne Grove Trail. Its distance from the valley means you won’t see as many visitors on this 3.2 mile out-and-back trail in the park. Old growth Sequoia grow here, and you’ll feel like you’re hiking back in time. Definitely worth the drive.
Check out campgrounds in Yosemite National Park for multiple days of camping and hiking fun.
Looking for places to camp in Yosemite National Park? The Dyrt has you covered!
- June Lake Camping, June Lake, CA