Best Yosemite Day Hikes

Published 2019-04-15
Yosemite contains over 800 miles of hiking trails.  Not all trails are created equal and here is the ultimate guide to decide where to go and what to hike.  
The hike you select will be dependent on season and weather. Read our Best Time to Visit Yosemite post to better plan your hikes.  You won't be able to hike to high elevations in winter due to snow.
What are Yosemite's best day hikes?

  1. The Mist Trail
  2. Yosemite Falls Point
  3. Cathedral Lakes
  4. Lembert Dome
  5. Glacier Pt and Sentinel Dome
  6. Lower Yosemite Falls
  7. Tunnel View / Bridalveil Falls
  8. El Cap
  9. Tuolume Grove of Giant Sequoias

The Mist Trail: (6.5 Miles) Hike from the Happy Isles trailhead to the top of Nevada Falls.  Once you reach the top, cross the bridge over Nevada Falls and descend down the John Muir Trail back to Happy Isles. This is a must do!  Plan for it to take 1/2 a day and a lot of energy.

Yosemite Falls Point: (7.6 Miles) Hike from Camp 4 across from Yosemite Lodge up the Yosemite Falls Trail.  Once you climb the 3,000 feet to Yosemite Falls, keep going towards the waterfall to find the lesser-known railing that goes right to the falls ledge.  After this, continue hiking across the bridge over the river and up to Yosemite Point.  Plan for it to take 3/4 day and all your energy for the day.  If you want to just do part of this trail, after Columbia Point and before Yosemite Falls comes into view, there is a small, unmarked trail that goes down and off to the right.  This goes down to an old railing with an amazing view.  The trail is well-traveled and goes about 100 feet before coming out to the viewpoint.

Cathedral Lakes (8.7 Miles) from Tuolumne Meadows.

This will take 1/2 day and a lot of energy.  If you still have anything left, hike to the top of Lembert Dome (3.8 Miles) to gain an amazing few of Tuolumne Meadows.

Glacier Pt/Sentinel Dome:  Drive up to Glacier Pt, stopping at Sentinel Dome along the way.  This is a short, 2.2-mile hike and may be best saved for a day where you are feeling tired and need some rest.  This is a must do though and should not be missed! 
After you hike Sentinel Dome, continue driving to Glacier Pt to check out the view there, as well. 

Lower Yosemite Falls:  This is a short walk from Yosemite Lodge, but shouldn't be missed.  It will only take you 30 minutes.  Continue walking around Cooks Meadow to further enjoy the area (~an extra 1 mile).

Tunnel View/Bridalveil Falls: This is not a hike, but a must-see viewpoint.  On your way back down, stop at Bridalveil Falls and hike to the falls.

El Cap:  This one isn't well known, but it is a lot of fun to park in El Cap Meadow and hike up to the base of El Cap for an amazing perspective on how big this wall really is.

Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias:  This is a short, but steep 3.2 mile hike to see some of the largest trees in the world.  This is on your way to Tuolumne Meadows just after passing Crane Flat gas station. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/tuolumne-grove