Yosemite Falls viewed from the
Valley floor
Yosemite Falls
Distance: 6.6 Miles (roundtrip)
Starting Elevation:  4,040 feet
Ending Elevation: 6,740 feet
Elevation Gain:  2,700 feet
Topo Maps: Half Dome, Yosemite Falls
Trailhead: Sunnyside Walk-in Campground

 



According to the guidebooks, this trip starts from either Yosemite Lodge or Lower Yosemite Falls.  If you start from Yosemite Lodge, you will find parking difficult unless you are a guest.  If you start from Lower Yosemite Falls, you will add approximately one mile onto the roundtrip.  I recommend starting from Sunnyside Walk-in Campground.  The campground has plenty of parking.  To find the trail, go 50 yards North from the parking lot.  When you get to the trailhead sign, you are on the right track.

Sign north of Sunnyside campground at trailhead
This trail is one of the roughest trails in Yosemite.  Horses are not allowed on it; the good news is no horsey piles, the bad news is no soft ground.  From bottom to top there are over 135 switchbacks and walking this trail is similar to climbing stairs.  The trip back is brutal and extremely rough on the legs.

This trail is almost one continuous climb.  It does however offer Grand views of most of Yosemite's highlights: Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, North Dome, Sentinel Rock, Sentinel Dome, Lost Arrow, and Yosemite Valley.
 

View of Half Dome and North Dome (left of
Half Dome)

View of top of Yosemite Falls

After climbing 2,700 vertical feet in 3 miles, you reach an intersection where you can continue on to Eagle Peak (2.8 miles), El Capitan (4.7 miles), Yosemite Creek Campground (6.0 miles), White Wolf (10.8 miles), Tioga Road (12.0 miles), Harden Lake (13.8 miles), and Ten Lakes (14.4 miles).  Most choose to continue on to the Yosemite Falls Observation Point (0.2 miles).
 

The "handrails" on the trip down to the 
observation point.

View from the top, Mt. Starr King on far right

The trip to the observation point requires you to walk down a rock staircase, then walk along a ledge using the famous "handrails".  The trip is well worth it as the view looking down Yosemite Falls is awesome.

Trail Tips
• Use hiking poles - Because this trail is very rough (like rough rock stairs) use hiking poles to save the knees
• Bring plenty of water - Reliable water (to be filtered) can only be found at the top of the falls
• Hike early in the season - Unfortunately, Yosemite Falls dries up around the end of September.  For
  maximum scenery hike early in the season, such as May.  If you want to stay dry, hike in September.
• Don't let the low mileage of this trip fool you.  It is a very difficult trail, offering little shade, you need
  to be in top shape.

Trip References:
Schaffer, Jefferey P. 1996.  High Sierra Hiking Guide Yosemite.  Berkeley: Wilderness Press, p. 37-41 (day hike #10).

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This page last changed 7 June, 2004