Upper Yosemite Falls

Level: Strenuous

  • Steep and narrow trail going up
  • Extremely steep at the Top of Yosemite Falls (handrails available)

Duration: 6-8hrs.

  • 4-5hrs going up
  • 2-3hrs coming down

Distance: 7.2 Miles round trip

Starting Point: Camp 4

Elevation: 2,700 ft (823 m) elevation gain

Personal Notes:

This was my first hike in Yosemite, so to be honest I wasn`t too sure what to expect from America`s tallest waterfall.

The trail starts off pretty mellow with a gentle slope and tree branches providing shade from the sun. There was still a sharp chill in the air when I began  at 9:30AM (a bit later than I was planning), but after ascending a few switch backs I quickly peeled off my outer layers and was fine with a plain shirt.

The later part of the hike is pretty out in the open, so be sure to bring a hat and sunblock to protect yourself. There were also times when I lost track of the trail and wandered off, so take close notice as to where you`re going!

Up close and personal with the giant

I hiked in mid February, so two-thirds the way up sections of the path were covered in knee deep snow. Look for footprints left by prior hikers and use those as they have most likely already been compressed down and tested. It would also be worthwhile to invests in some snow gloves and attachable snow traction cleats for your shoes. I didn`t have any at the time and finished the hike in one piece, but not without countlessly slipping and falling every couple of steps.


The last stretch of the hike was the most dangerous section, and was also completely covered in knee deep snow so I would not recommend it for the faint of heart. I ended up going anyways though and was rewarded with this beautiful view of the valley.

Worth it!


  • Start early in the morning to avoid getting stuck out past dark
  • Bring a headlamp just in case
  • Bring plenty of water
  • Bring food and snacks for energy
  • Bring shoes with good traction (trails are often wet and slippery from the waterfall, or covered in snow)
  • Bring dry socks as your shoes may get wet
  • Pace yourself and take breaks in the shade
  • Stick to the trail (very easy to get lost)
  • Layer up

Additional Resources:
National Park Service


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