A steep climb is well rewarded with close-up views of Upper Yosemite Fall and distant views of Half Dome and other Sierra mountain peaks. Along the hike, enjoy a bird's eye view of Yosemite Valley's meadows and the meandering Merced River.
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) round trip
Top of Yosemite Falls
Distance: 7.2 miles (11.6 km) round trip
One of Yosemite's oldest historic trails (built 1873 to 1877), the Yosemite Falls Trail leads to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet (739 m) above the Valley floor. This trail starts near Camp 4, along the Valley Loop Trail, and immediately begins its climb, switchback after switchback, through oak woodland. You will begin to climb above some trees and into exposed plateaus that offer you a glimpse of what's to come: great views of Yosemite Valley and its many iconic landforms. Do not stray off of the maintained path, as you will find steep drops adjacent to the trail.
The Yosemite Falls Trail is open year-round; conditions vary depending on the season. In spring, when the waterfall is at its peak, this hike is stunning, and you may even get wet from the spray of the waterfall during a section of the hike. In summer, conditions are hot and dry, and the loose decomposed granite along the trail can be slippery. Keep in mind that by August, the water levels are low and you may only see a trickle here. (Check out our Yosemite Falls webcam to see a current view.) During winter, the lower portion of this trail gets direct sunlight, so hiking can be snow-free while other trails are icy. Visiting Columbia Rock, located one mile up the trail, is a worthwhile trip at any time of year. The upper portion of this trail, which receives little to no sunlight in winter, can be very icy and slippery, or buried beneath feet of snow, making traction difficult. In winter, hiking in the colder early morning or late afternoon hours can be even more dangerous if the trail is icy.
Drinking water is not available along the trail. A drinking fountain is available near the trailhead in Camp 4. Bring 4 quarts/liters of water if hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls.
Restrooms are not available along the trail; the nearest ones are in Camp 4 near the trailhead.
The Yosemite Falls trailhead is located along the Valley Loop Trail near Camp 4. The Camp 4 parking area is for campers only, but there is parking at the Yosemite Falls parking area across the street from, and just beyond the entrance to Camp 4.
The Valley Visitor Shuttle (7 am to 10 pm year-round) serves the trailhead area. Ride the shuttle to stop #7 and walk directly across the street to Camp 4 and follow trailhead signs. You can also ride the El Capitan Shuttle (9 am to 6 pm) to Camp 4 (stop E2) from late May through early October.
Pets, bicycles, and strollers are prohibited. Do not shortcut switchbacks, which causes rapid trail erosion and results in injuries. Keep your food within arm's reach at all times and do not feed the wildlife. Carry out all trash and food waste (fruit peels, shells, etc.).
Last updated: September 30, 2021