Probably our most favorite hike in Yosemite
Robert & Susan Dunn · Little Rock, Arkansas · September 27, 2012
This is a rather tiring hike with a spectacular payoff! The views of Half Dome and Vernal and Nevada Falls along the initial portion of the trail are stunning – be prepared to stop often to take pictures! Half Dome is an incredible sight from EVERY angle.
About the time you stop being able to hear the roar of Vernal and Nevada Falls (how can they be that far away and still be so loud?), you start hearing Illilouette Fall – but you still can’t see it yet. Then, suddenly, there it is – and it’s a beautiful sight! Enjoy the view from the spectacular lookout point, but don’t get too close to the edge.
The trail continues working its way down to Illilouette Creek, which is more like a raging river than the word “creek” would suggest. Take off your hiking boots and dip a toe into the chilly water – it’s refreshing! (By the time you finish this hike, your feet will thank you!) This is a nice spot for a lunch break. Great views – both upstream and downstream – from the footbridge (although you can’t see the waterfall from here).
We hiked on in search of “Panorama Point,” which was going to be our turnaround point. We finally realized we must have gone too far, so we turned around (after taking a short break after a rather steep ascent) and headed back. On our way back down toward the bridge, we spotted an unmarked trail that led out to a clearing with some pretty impressive views and decided that must be “Panorama Point” – for us, at least!
We crossed the bridge and headed back up the mountainside toward Glacier Point. The views of Half Dome from the “backside” are another special feature of this hike. We got the feeling that many of the other hikers we crossed paths with on our return were wondering why we were heading in the “wrong” direction. The view of Illilouette Fall was just as impressive on the way back up as it had been on the way down – and we welcomed the opportunity to pause for a few minutes!
The grade seems easy enough on the way down from Glacier Point, but it’ll wear you out on the way back up! Be sure to conserve enough energy to make it back up those long switchbacks (you can see them from the other side of the creek). Much of this trail is in direct sunlight, so sunscreen and plenty of water are mandatory.
This is an awesome trail that you should definitely do; it isn’t just about the destination or a single view along the way. The entire hike is scenic. Take your time, pace yourself, and enjoy a great hike! (And what WAS that low thumping noise we kept hearing from time to time?)
Jonathan Wood · Fresno, CA · May 8, 2012
The hike to Illilouette Falls is one of the best hikes I have ever done. The view is awesome. You overlook Yosemite Valley, and get some very good views of Half Dome from the side and back. Just beware that the hard part is getting back to the car. I was not in good shape when I took this hike and thought I would never make it back to the parking lot.
Half Dome Via Glacier Point
Steve Mo · H.B. So Cal · July 2, 2011
Just summited Half Dome June 28th 2011. All the water in the valley is running high due to the heavy winter snow pack. We passed Illilouette falls en route and were mightily impressed. We passed at the bridge but did not go near the falls. The trail is peppered with open and covered sections. The views of the valley are incredible and the trail is in good condition. A very nice way into the little yosemite valley. Recommend the trail to any hiker in decent shape.