Yosemite hiking tips: 4 advanced day hikes

While Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth, it is also very busy with lots of visitors.

(For more information, see video below)

This does not take away from the beauty of the Yosemite valley, but it can make it challenging to get a picture without someone you don't know in the background.

When you hike on a more advanced trail it cuts way down on the number of campers and hikers around you.

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  "One day's exposure to mountains is better than a carload of books."  ~ John Muir     

4  advanced day hikes

Remember to pack lots of water, snacks and wear comfortable hiking shoes and clothes.

If you are experienced at hiking and in decent physical condition you can experience the side of Yosemite that is less traveled.

Here are 4 Yosemite hikes that will challenge and inspire you.

1.  Tunnel view parking lot

On the way to Glacier Point, there is the very popular stopping place called Tunnel view. At the tunnel there is a parking lot where you can get out and take some amazing photos. It has a wonderful view and it is fun to take pictures.  Panoramic pictures. The only draw back is that this stopping point usually is very busy, and it is not always easy to get a parking spot.

This Hike is not necessarily a long hike, but it is continuously uphill.  The views you will have of the valley and all the major granite mountains, as you go up the trail is just outstanding. Most important, the trail will take you away from the crowd at the tunnel view parking lot area.

Find the trailhead in the back of the parking lot

After you have taken some great photos at Tunnel view,  and you are ready to do some hiking... look at the back of the parking lot and you will see a trail that goes up the side of the mountain.

The hike is pretty much only uphill but it will take you away from the crowds and give you a some views that are amazing. You will see sign markers along the way and you can decide just how far you want to go.

The advantage of this hike is the view that you will have without all the crowd at the Tunnel view parking area.   Enjoy the view!

2.  Panorama trail

This is a popular trail and it can be a little busy in the summer time. But once you get out on the trail you will have see fewer and fewer fellow hikers. The best way to experience this hike is to make it a one way hike.  Oneway  going downhill from the Glacier Point area.  The trail is downhill most of the way  except for after you cross Illilouette Creek at which point you will have some climbing in elevation.


Start at the trail head at Glacier Point

For a Glacier point area hiking map see this website http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/glacierhikes.pdf

You can get to the trail head by catching a bus from the valley to Glacier Point-you want the one way hikers service. see this website  http://www.yosemitepark.com/public-transportation.aspx

Or if you have a friend who can drop you off at Glacier Point instead of paying the bus fare.

If you start at Glacier Point the elevation is 7,200 and the hike takes you down to the valley floor which is about 4,000 feet. The one way hike is 8.5 miles, mostly downhill. Panorama point vista is not marked on the trail, but if you can find it you will have a grand view of Half Dome, Basket Dome and Royal Arches.

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The trail meets up with the popular mist trail and the John Muir trail. If you are too tired or sore it would be best to take the John Muir trail down to the valley as it is not as steep as the Mist trial.

Views here include Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls.

The ending point of this trail would be the Vernal Fall footbridge which will then take you back to the valley floor.

3.  Mist trail to Vernal Falls and Nevada falls

The mist trail is a challenging and beautiful hike that will take you on steep granite stairs and by some very famous waterfalls.

Make sure you have good hiking shoes that can get wet. In the spring when the falls are roaring, often times the trail is wet from the mist. Be careful as the granite steps can be slippery. Maybe this is why they call it mist trail…


This is the same trail you would take to make the Half Dome hike.

To start this hike catch the free shuttle bus to the Happy Isle trailhead stop. Round trip to the top of Nevada falls is 7 miles. This trail can be busy as it is very popular.

Once you get past Vernal Falls, the crowd begins to thin out. The best time to see the falls is in the spring when they are roaring.

The elevation gains are to the top of Nevada falls is 1900 feet. The views along the way, and at the top of each of the falls are breathtaking and amazing. You will be glad you did this hike in Yosemite.

4.  The upper Yosemite Falls trail

This hike is about 9 miles round trip and with an elevation gain of about 2900 feet if you make it all the way to Yosemite Point.

This is a day hike that can take you up to 10 hours depending on your pace of course. It is a full workout going upstairs and will challenge you physically and mentally.

The best time of the year

Like most hikes that include waterfalls in Yosemite springtime is the best time.

Yosemite Falls is One of the biggest falls in the world

Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America. From the top of Yosemite Falls to the base of the lower falls is over 2,400 feet. This makes Yosemite Falls in the top ten of all waterfalls in the world.


  • Yosemite Falls (up close and personal)
  • Half Dome
  • Yosemite Valley
  • Wide open clear sky
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Minolta DSC

If you want to see a Yosemite Falls webcam that is live daily provided by Yosemite Conserancy.

See website http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/webcams/yosemite-falls#.U4z2vpRdWmA

All 4 of these hikes are challenging and rewarding. They will stretch your limits physically. But they will give you the chance to see some of the most beautiful sites in the whole world!

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"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread. " ~ John Muir