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Hiking & Walking: California > Yosemite National Park

Quick Facts

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Beginning Elevation: 3,990 Feet (1243.8 Meters) Yosemite Falls Parking Area
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain, One-way: 2,770 Feet (863.5 Meters) Yosemite Falls
Ending Elevation: 6,200 Feet (1932.7 Meters) crest Yosemite Falls
Length, Round Trip: 7 Miles (11.67 Kilometers)
Recommended Season: Early Summer
Usage: Heavy
Vehicle Accessibility: Shuttle Bus or passenger vehicle

Outfitters and Guides

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This trail begins from the Sunnyside Campground or the Yosemite Lodge parking area via the north side Valley Floor Trail. It is steep with more than 125 switchbacks to reach the Upper Yosemite Falls overlook. The falls flow during the spring and early summer months.

If beginning from the Yosemite Lodge follow the Valley Floor Trail westward from the parking area. Within one half mile the trail intersects the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. Begin hiking northward and up on the falls trail.

The trail ascends immediately with dozens of short switchbacks leading up the northern valley wall. It climbs approximately 1,000 feet in the first mile, but the forest provides ample shade. This first mile ends at Columbia Rock, which provides sweeping views of the Yosemite Valley, that include Half Dome and Cathedral Spires.

Along the trail the switchbacks continue. After a short descent Upper Yosemite Falls come into view. The view of the falls improves as the trail climbs and crosses an exposed area prone to rock falls. The trail climbs for the next two miles completing 135 switchbacks before leveling.

A trail junction at three and a half miles separates the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail from the Eagle Peak Trail. Bear right to reach the falls overlook. A short ascent brings hikers through a highly impacted area with several campsites. Continue southeastward to the overlook.

To reach Yosemite Point return to the high point and campsites along the eastern leg of the trail. Walk directly east from this point to a bridge across Yosemite Creek. Cross the bridge and walk one third mile to Yosemite Point.

Directions from Arch Rock Entrance: Follow Highway 140 into the Yosemite Valley. Six and a half miles from the entrance station the road splits. Take the right fork, which becomes Southside Drive, to the Yosemite Lodge parking area. The trail begins from the western side of the lot behind the lodge.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Year-round (NOTE: Falls may be dry in Late Summer and Early Fall.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Nicci (Fallbrook , CA)
Time of Day: 11 a.m. - 5-5:30ish.
Length of Time: Round Trip about 6.5 Hours (Stopped for a while up top).
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: There were many who start the trail but less than 10% finish. The switchbacks after the first prospect of Upper Yosemite Falls were most difficult due to the elvation gain and the sun heated surfaces from the trail rock faces on your left and right, and of course from above. The greatest reward is reaching the top and knowing that you finished. The prospect of Yosemite Valley from the top of the falls is fantastic. If you choose to hike this trail please condition yourself at least a month before. Build up knee strenght because it is difficult getting up but coming down is very strenuous on your knees. There are several places to eat lunch in between Columbia Rock and the severe series of switchbacks. You will probably take several rests. Camelbacks are highly recommended because you will use the entire pack on the way up (2.5 liters) on a hot day. If you are going to make it a day trip travel light. DON'T GIVE UP! The satisfaction that you "beat" the falls is too amazing to quit. Oooh please wear proper footwear; flip-flops, sneakers, and steel toes are not appropriate...sounds silly to bring up but you would be amazed.
Conditions: Very steep climb from the get go. Since you are climbing approximately 3600 feet in about 3.5 miles there are not many straighaways or levels. The closer you come to the end of the trail the more rocks on the trail. I'm not talking pebbles but ROCK! Make sure you change your socks at least once because the sweat on your foot will cause tenderness on pressure areas. There is a ton of sun exposure especially in the later trail. Rock surfaces that surround you except from where the sun is can be highly dangerous. My recommendation is SPF 30+ and apply every 30-60 mins after you have left tree covering. Some areas of wetness due to the mist from the falls. Extremely beautiful to behold.
Water Availability: Bring as much as you can! 2.5 Liters will get you up there. There are sources of water on the way up. Make sure the stream is moving, no standing water. We didn't treat our water and had no problems. It is always a good idea to treat you water. Once up top Yosemite Creek is also a great source of water. Its obviously rushing along so its pretty pure.
Recommended Clothing: Light clothing in early June. Light colors but not white. Again bring sun block you will thank me later.
Suggested Accessories: Make sure that you are replenishing your protein, fats, and carbs. This trail will quickly deplete you. One of our party suffered from low blood sugar because she thought water was enough. NO! You must eat some sort of protein source ( Beef Jerky, PB etc..) have some carbs ( juice, sucking candy) and fat usually is in with the other items. We usually take PB Cups because they are small and preserve well behind a Cambelback resivoir (sp?) and it includes all three energy sources. Pack a decent lunch but nothing too heavey. A sandwhich (PB & Jelly or friut bars...) You don't want to overfill.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Trailhead Parking Yosemite Lodge parking area, shuttle stop 8
ICON Backpacking Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
ICON Dispersed Camping Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
ICON Geology Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
ICON Hiking & Walking Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Related Activities
Center Valley Loop Trail - This trail leads through the central portion of the Yosemite Valley portion of the park. It can be accessed from various parking areas.

Eagle Peak Trail - This route follows that leading to Upper Yosemite Falls, then continues three more miles to the summit of Eagle Peak.

North Dome (via Yosemite Falls) Trail - This trail leads approximately 17.5 miles along the northern rim of the Yosemite Valley. Backcountry campsites are available south of Tioga Road.

Sunnyside Campground - This campground is open year-round for tents only. There are 35 sites available on a first come, first served basis.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Yosemite National Park, P.O. Box 577 , Yosemite, CA, 95389, Phone: 209-372-0200, Fax: 209-372-0220, TTY: 209-372-4726


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