Lorene Corley · Houston, TX · October 26, 2013
Make sure to bring multiple bottles of water and some food. Also, make sure to take a lot of rest.
Upper Falls Yosemite, Amazing View
Matt Gruver · Alamo, CA · June 16, 2013
This hike is worth getting yourself in condition, which will enable you to take in the views and not be stressing over whether you'll make it to the top or not.
If you're into hurrying we met a guy who ran up in 1hr 10min. He likely did not see a lot of the beauty that's there to be seen.
There are springs crossing the trail at various points, and places where you can view the falls very well. Take the time to stop, look up, look out, and look around. You'll see much more this way, and be rewarded for your patience. The whole valley is seen very well as you approach the upper portions.
Left to hike up the trail at 9:30 am. Temperature: perfect about 62. We were an 11yr old athlete, 23 yr old athletle, and 55 yr. old, old athlete. You will enjoy the hike more if you're not being scorched by post noon sun.
Hiked briskly for the first 45 minutes. Views were stellar, trail condition good.
You'll want to have hiking boots for ankle support. The 11 yr old wore off road running shoes. The other two wore boots which saved their ankles on at least two occasions, especially coming down.
You will want a quality point and shoot camera at the minimum. Any pictures you take will be treasure, so take whatever camera you can with charged batteries and film or storage.
We had a perfect day there. Awesome!
Larry · Modesto CA · June 14, 2013
This hike offers spectacular views difficult climbs and slippery descents. Overall a fantastic experience. My wife and I did this hike in May 2011. Warm on the bottom, snow on the trail on the top. The river was flowing fast and cold and the view from the overlook was scary but worth it.
Richard Stephenson · Sunnyvale, CA · June 11, 2013
It's hard to imagine this trail makes such a steep ascent to the top of Yosemite Falls! It actually isn't that bad... the trail is wide, well maintained, and rife with switch-backs. It offers spectacular views of the some of the south valley features and a wholly unique view of Yosemite Falls from the top (make sure you see the lookout and not just the river!). It had been a few years since I have done any hiking. It took me 3 hours to the top and 1 hour down. Be sure to have water with you and perhaps a snack.
Little Dust, Little slippage
Steven Grubb · South Peninsula · June 10, 2013
16 years ago I ran up here with my friend John Borgwardt. He did it in 42 minutes and I lagged behind at 48 Minutes. Now, fast forward to yesterday. Three hours and a hour back down. This is still one of the nicest steep elevation gain trails there is. There is nominal slipping on the rocks, very little dust from other hikers, plenty of shade all the way up, and great natural seating at just about every switchback if you need it. I counted the switchbacks coming down and there are 166, give or take 5, depending on how you count a switchback, some run for a couple of hundred yards and may snake just a little, these are not switchbacks in my opinion. Coming from the top, switchbacks 71 74 78 and 115 are the only truly long ones. Switch Back 110 on the way down is roughly where the overlook is for the falls, rails along the edge. So that again translates to switchback 56 starting from the bottom. Have fun! Steven
John Boyle · North Carolina · June 10, 2013
My wife and I are both 62 years old, in pretty good shape, and this hike was a reasonable effort both going up and coming down. It took us three hours up and two and one-half down. The up part is obvious; it's steep (but not too steep), long (no question), and gets warm (we did this at the beginning of June). The down part is difficult because of the sandy nature of much of the trail. It's easy to slip on the many steps and rocks. Some specific notes:
1. There was no sign for anything at Columbia Rock but it does have a railing and a killer view.
2. You can't really see the falls from the top but the view is stunning.
3. The best views of the falls and Half Dome are along the middle mile of the trail. The falls are present in beautiful profile!
4. Consider how much water you want to carry and at least double it! We decided not to go the extra distance to Yosemite Point for the simple reason that we would not have enough water for a safe hike.
5. The NPS shuttle bus stop at Camp 4 is ideal for this hike.
Easier way out - going downhill for the Yosemite Falls approach
wilson p chu · United States · June 8, 2013
Us senior citizens might not make it, especially if you've got a heart murmur, plus your aorta valve has some stenosis with your valve not opening up completely.
However, the solution is to have your buddy drive you up from the valley through crane flat onto hwy 120, Tioga Pass road, on past Porcupine Flat to where the North Dome trail starts (near 8100 ft. elevation) and go towards Yosemite Point heading towards upper Yosemite Falls. (You can bypass Yosemite Point if you want to save time and hiking uphill). Once you get to upper Yosemite Falls, going down to the Valley Floor is like coming back downhill from Nevada Falls to Happy Isles and, when I had come back from Nevada Falls downhill, I made the return trip in about 45 minutes at a mild downhill jogging pace! I know this is hiking cheating, but nowadays, this is what I call "hi-tec" hiking strategy for us senior citizens. I'm in my mid-70's and this should work! One thing, though, is to ask your doctor to be sure that health wise, if at over 8100 feet elevation physically you can take this type of exercise before attempting this!
Didn't know what I was getting into.
Tricia McClain · Ventura · June 8, 2013
I made this hike when I chaperoned my daughter's class trip to Yosemite. I should have know when only four out of thirty kids signed up for the "challenge hike", but I figured a challenge for 7/8 graders wouldn't be too difficult for me. Boy was I wrong. It was difficult to say the least and definitely challenged me more than I ever expected. Our naturalist Amy kept us motivated the whole way up and to their credit not one of the kids ever asked to turn around. Being at the top with my thirteen year old daughter and three of her best friends was an amazing experience and worth the aches, blisters and sweat it took to get there. Bring a lot of water; three liters at least and food for the day. When you get near the top take a short trip to the left and go down to the creek that feeds the falls and soak your aching feet (carefully). Then go to all the way to the lookout point for amazing views. We made it down in record time because a thunderhead started to come in and we didn't want to be up there with the kids if it started to rain. We got sprinkled on, but not enough to make the rocks any more slippery than they already were. I recommend it to anyone who really wants to challenge their body and spirit.
One item off the bucket list
Kate · Minneapolis · June 6, 2013
I am not young (59) and I am not fit but I am so proud to have made it to the top (and down again) along with my friend, Jane, on May 14th. It took 4.5 hrs to the top. As I walked to the edge for my long awaited view of the valley below, there was a bolt of lightening, a crack of thunder, the skies opened up and the wind blew hard. Temperatures dropped quickly, the rain became horizontal and soon it turned to sleet and then snow and back to rain again. This is a difficult hike to be sure and I was glad we did it in May when the waterfall is roaring and temps are usually moderate. Still, our experience is a stark reminder that Mother Nature is in charge. I recommend that you bring a sturdy hiking stick. It can be very helpful for solid footing and taking some stress off the knees. And be mindful of the other sensible things that people on this page suggest. They aren't kidding.
Don Cupp · Hudson Valley, New York · June 6, 2013
I just returned home and it seems like a dream. I was privileged and proud to make it to the top with my daughter in under 2 hours! We were challenged to say the least. Our calves were protesting, my heart was pounding, and sweat was pouring off my cap, but we made it to the top and at 54 I consider that great! I honestly don't know (no one does) whether I will be able to do this again in the future, so we did it now, and I will always remember it. We arrived just after the crowds had left from Memorial Day weekend. We drove down from Lake Tahoe into the Tioga Pass entrance and were given a preview of what was coming: great views! This is a must see for all. Just a suggestion from our experience: be prepared. I carried a backpack with my Sawyer Point One water filter, which proved priceless when we reached the top and were able to drink from the falls. It is lightweight (3oz) and with an empty water bottle you can avoid carrying a lot of water, which you will gladly do to reduce the unwanted weight on this hike! People do yourself a favor and go to this treasure of America. My body is in New York but my mind & spirit are still in Yosemite (along with my blood, sweat and tears). Also, try to see the Mariposa Grove with the Giant Sequoias... Wow! A total joy. Lastly, take to heart the warnings of others about slips, falls, sprains. Going down is hard on the joints! We flew but one must be careful on these hikes. Sadly, no sooner did I arrive home and I saw the story of a young man who was lost over Nevada Falls because he went into the water, which is not advised. Bringing some first aid is good advice. Be safe, help others, and have fun. Yosemite - like 1st Love- has smitten me!
Go Beyond the Upper Falls
Susan · Burlingame · June 5, 2013
I have hiked the upper falls many times and it never fails to take my breath away (literally). The views are wonderful, especially when the falls are full, but few people hike beyond the upper falls. If you have the energy, continue hiking to the top of El Cap from the Upper Falls, which would take another 3.5 miles and not much climbing. If that is too far, stop half way to Eagle's Nest. You won't regret the views. Another hike off the Upper falls is to continue to North Dome, the mountain just opposite of Half Dome. The elevation is lower than Half Dome but the view of Half Dome is great. I don't know why Yosemite doesn't list these hikes on their website. I'm almost 58 years and I will be hiking Half Dome again for the 8th time.
Joe · Sacramento · May 30, 2013
The description of this trail is very accurate. I was not in very good shape and it was a very arduous climb. Despite the difficulty of the hike I made it to the top and the view was worth every step. I have climbed half dome and this hike was comparable to the difficulty of that hike as well.
Hardest 1st Mile in Yosemite
Jerry · Modesto · May 28, 2013
I've done this hike twice this month. However, I don't recommend doing it on Memorial Day weekend like I just did because it was a parade on the trail. LOL! We got a fairy early start, which I suggest to find parking & beat the heat. This is by far the toughest hike in Yosemite. I say that because it climbs constantly and then some more. I suggest taking lots of water. This is not for out of shape people. If you decide to do it and you make it to the top? I applaud you. Don't look for an elevator back down, there isn't one! Tough tough tough hike, but well worth it. The view of Half Dome, the view of the cascading falls & the view from the top are simply amazing! Thanks to all the rangers & park workers who work so hard so we can enjoy this great place. No other place like it on the planet.
No words can describe the beauty seen...
Fugi · Orange, CA · May 21, 2013
I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself, I've done this hike twice now and in a couple of weeks I will be doing it again. This trail is definitely one of the hardest hikes I've done besides the cables on Half Dome. The first time I did it I injured my quad at the start of descending from the top. Turned out I tore it and thank God my brother was there to help me hike all the way back down. The second time I got every weather possible...heat, rain, lightening & thunder, hail, & once we reached the top a little snow...oh and wind...lots of wind. At the top we hiked down to the edge of the fall and in gripping the handrail with the rain, wind & hail my hands felt frozen on that thing. But it was an experience I will never forget, watching the lightening show behind Glacier Point and knowing it was headed for us. I've learned from all the years going to Yosemite to always prepare for all kinds of weather. And it paid off the second time around. So give yourself plenty of time, carry more water & food than needed, a poncho, and if you're hiking in the early summer like June, pack a light warm jacket/sweater. Oh and remember to respect the park and the animals, we are in their home visiting. Have fun, be safe & happy trails everyone!
Proud of us!
Jeri · Valencia, CA · May 13, 2013
My 15 year old son and I made this our first "intense" hike. We had done a number of others, but knew we wanted more of a challenge and came up to Yosemite to do it for Mother's Day. I had read a number of books, but not these reviews beforehand. I knew it would be hard, but didn't realize the "stairmaster" issue. We didn't make it all the way to the very top (son's choice not mine) but close enough. We took our time, made a number of stops to catch breath/enjoy scenery. But the cautions as to the nature of the trail are valid. I took a spill on the way down (sand and hidden rock) which wrenched my ankle but good. Fortunately we were prepared. Taped it up but good and took it slow on way down. Pack more water and food than needed. I could not believe the people I saw going up without any water. Overall, I am very proud of how we did on our first real challenge. We are committed to train more and to go back and to also do Half Dome.
Harold · Indianapolis · May 11, 2013
This hike is easy to underestimate and not respect. I did this. It is a workout on the legs. There is a section where you go through sand. Ouch! Main thing is to carry three times the water you think you need. The vista and the pools at the top are a generous reward though. It is so stunningly beautiful, it is hard to describe.
Sean Travis · Merced · May 10, 2013
Imagine climbing a 45 degree grade for 4 and 1/2 hours straight. The trail is relentless and brutal but well worth the reward if you make it.
Tough, with rewarding views.
Ed · Los Angeles · April 17, 2013
It might rate 4 stars, but I'm not sure the views from mid-trail are any better than they are from Fern Ledge. Until I do Fern Ledge myself, I'm giving this a solid 3.
I did it with a backpack loaded for an overnight. It was a great night, but I'm not sure I'll suffer that torture again! Very strenuous climb, even without 20 lbs or so on your back.
Savage but worth it
Bobbi · Santa Rosa CA · March 29, 2013
I cringe every time someone suggests this hike but yet it fills my heart. It's brutal, to be blunt. It is not a trail for beginners or for people that "once were in shape". The trail has dry, hot areas with large boulders that seem to go straight up to the sky - they will liquify your quads. There can also be other hazards like ice and snow meringues that swallow the trail even in summer. If mentally and physically fit, this trail has some stunning views. I have hiked this trail over a dozen times, often with a 35 lb backpack, and I have photographed about every inch of it, but there are certain spots I just can't make enough images of. One of my favorite views is about a mile or less after Columbia Rock, where the entire upper fall is visible. Once on the top, if you don't collapse right away, there is a narrow, and VERY scary trail to the overlook of the falls. Depending on the day, this causes me a total panic attack - but the entire valley can been seen, and you have to do it at least once - just hold the handrail. Like most high country trails, there is little water available. And what water is available must be sterilized with iodine, chlorine, UV, or a virus rated backpacking pump. One half liter of water IS NOT ENOUGH! And even though it's only 3ish miles to the top, plan on the hike taking all day - really! Beginners should consider a headlamp as part of a day pack. Think the hike is brutal, just try it in the dark without any water. Oh, and sad that I have to say it, but no matter hot you get, DO NOT go into the water of the falls - either falls or the upper river. People drown and are injured. Respect this trail and river - it only takes a moment to end up dead.
Amazing but hard
Preet · Fresno · March 28, 2013
The hardest thing I've done by far. I was practically crawling up the last third but the view from the top is 100% worth the effort.
Edward · Miami · February 5, 2013
This was only my fourth hike in my life... I do not think I will ever face anything as difficult as this in my life. I am 40 and in decent shape... While the views are incredible, the duress you put your body through kind of overwhelmed me. You do not need to dress in layers. I did and paid for it because of how strenuous the hike was. That being said I am proud that I got to the top and plan on coming back to do it again next year. I also did Vernal Falls on the mist trail although it was closed off... I do not recommend this at all in the winter. It was really icy and slippery. This is God's country!!!
Fear of Heights?
Sara · Ohio · January 3, 2013
On my first visit to the park, I decided to do the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail with my boyfriend. We packed food and water and were pretty well prepared. Though, I wished we had brought one extra water bottle. At the time I was very out-of-shape and about 40 lbs. overweight. The hike was still very do-able, though I needed to rest more than the average bear. The problem which kept me from getting to the very top of the falls (we turned back maybe 100ft from the top) was my fear of heights. I have a horrible fear of heights and found some parts of the hike very challenging to my phobia - but I made it through the worst parts - sometimes crawling on my hands and knees, but I made it. So, given that I am pretty much the worst person to attempt this hike (out-of-shape, fear of heights), and I was able to make it as far as I did and LOVED IT!, I don't think there should be anything keeping you from going for it as well - but plan well!
Another Must-do at Yosemite
Jessica · Emeryville, CA · November 24, 2012
Hiked the Upper Falls Trail (starting at campground 4) on Thanksgiving Day. Yosemite Falls had started trickling again due to the recent snowfall, so it was the perfect time to go. It was cold and misty down in the valley, so I started the hike with several layers. It got hot pretty quickly, and about 1/3 of the way through I had to shed the jacket, long sleeve wool shirt, and wool tights. Be mindful and bring a backpack that can carry the extra clothing.
Pretty tough trail, more switchbacks and more strenuous than the 4 mile trail, but the views are fantastic. Definitely go up to Yosemite Point, it's worth the extra push. There was still some ice and snow left over at the rim, so being careful on the trails, and having good tread on your hiking shoes is a must.
Also, the turnoff for the first viewing point (once you get to the top of the lower falls) veers off to the right. It's about .1 mile downhill, can be easily missed if you're not paying attention.
Overall a great hike, don't think it's 6-10 hrs, I finished in 7 hrs, but I took a TON of photos and dilly dallied quite a bit at the top.
Best Hike ever at 55 and 285!!
Leo Jacques · Sacramento CA · November 12, 2012
I was 54 years old and not an outdoorsman. I am also considered obese at 285 yet I have hiked and trained for this for a few months. My whole Yosemite stay was actually a spontaneous diversion from another trip and I absolutely fell in love. I stayed at the Ahwahnee for 2 nights and Curry for 3. I hiked Sentinel Dome, which was spectacular with its 360 degree view, and then the Mist trail hike all the way to Nevada Falls, yet I knew that I MUST do the Upper Yosemite hike before I left. I started mid morning and simply moved one foot after the other using a walking cane (required!!) and was in a complete state of euphoria. While I had several people pass me on the way up, many stopped well short of the top and passed me going down while I continued simply moving foot by foot. The viewpoints along the way were mesmerizing. Midway up there is a point to stop at and look straight up the sheer granite face above and it was so overwhelming I had to turn away. Nevertheless, I continued to the very top ELATED. And relishing the views I sensed a great sense of pride at being there. It started to rain so I headed down (like I said I am not an outdoorsman...the rain ended and I wished I had stayed). The hike was physically challenging but is absolutely worth the effort. And the sense of accomplishment is most enjoyable.
Liz · Oakhurst · October 7, 2012
I am in pretty good shape, and I am an avid hiker who lives in the yosemite area and I have to say that this hike is definitely a 10 on the difficulty scale. Make sure to bring more water than you can even conceive drinking. I had to turn back about 3/4's of a mile from the top because we ran out. I also had extreme vertigo and kinda felt woozy due to the altitude change. But this is a trail you don't have to hike to the top of to feel a sense of accomplishment. All along the trail you can almost see the whole valley... from various elevations.
An easier way
Bob · Merced · September 4, 2012
If you are in your 50s, like me, you may want to take the hikers bus up Tioga Road, then start down the North Dome trail and turn right to the Yosemite Falls trail. Be sure to hike to the rim where there is an old steel railing at the point. Then, walk down and cross the bridge over Yosemite Creek and proceed down to the valley floor.
Incredible views.....bring plenty of water!!
Katie · Irvine, California · August 25, 2012
I hiked this trail with my son in August 2012. The falls had slowed to a trickle, however it made it great at the top for swimming above the falls. Beautiful views, however the overlook is treacherous, and not for the weak of heart!! We did run into two rattlesnakes on the trail, so be aware of your surroundings. Many boulders, so walking poles and hiking boots are highly recommended.
We enjoyed this trail much more than the 4 Mile Trail to Glacier Point. We have hiked Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls....we would definitely do this one again!!
A good workout with great views, occasionally!
Pete · Leicester, England · July 17, 2012
Did this today, July 17th 2012, with my 22 year old son, starting from Camp 4 (so 3.3 miles each way). Had spent the last week in Mammoth Lakes at 7,500 ft and walking trails in Tuolumne & Mammoth up to 11,300 ft so the thick air in Yosemite was most welcome (we did Clouds Rest from Tenaya Lake the previous day). We started together but I was quicker so carried on to the top alone with no water and stopping only to snatch the odd photo in a time of 1hr 20 minutes. We sat around looking at the views, drinking & eating then set off back down at a jog, taking 52 minutes to get to the starting point. A pair of Russian/Americans were faster than us going down but I was pleased with a total time of 2hrs 12 mins for the return trip. Again, no need for water on the way down (I caught the Russians drinking though!) My age? 61 years.
Great views from the top but the flow was not very impressive.
Just to say you've done it.
Bret · Central Florida · July 14, 2012
That is the best reason to take this hike - just to say you've done it. Much more difficult than the 4 Mile Trail, and the views aren't as great. If this hike ranks an 8 out of 10 in difficulty, my limit is a 7. :)
The hike is not bad, don't misunderstand. I'm glad I did it. But, if I ever go back, there are other hikes I will do first. Disclaimer: Cardiovascular speaking, the hike wasn't bad for me. But, being sure of my footing on the steep switchbacks was. I was very careful not to misstep and injure an ankle, so I'm probably making this hike sound tougher than it was. (On the way down, I came upon a woman who was being put on a horse and assisted out by SAR rangers due to an injury on her ankle/leg.) Took lots of photos on the way up. Took me 3 hours. Took only a few photos on the way down. Took me 3 hrs and 20 minutes.
I did the hike in June. Plenty of people, but certainly not crowded.
Reward for the effort: 3 out of 5.
Rickey Dean · Fresno, California · July 9, 2012
It is a long, long hike and one must be in good physical health. It is not a trail for small children, as some parts are very steep and some areas are completely out in the sun.
But once you get to the top you will not want to leave! Yes, it's that beautiful. Also take plenty of water, food, salt tablets and spray for bugs. But the main thing is to get yourself a nice walking stick, head gear and a nice pair of boots!
Lesa · San Diego · July 5, 2012
I loved this hike! The views are incredible and I can't wait to do it again! Next time I will continue on to Yosemite Point. We left the lower falls around 12:30 and headed up - make sure you take plenty of water - and made it down by 6:30. One word describes it best - AMAZING!
Noah · Houston, TX · June 17, 2012
I hiked this yesterday and I can hardly move today! I'd been on here reading reviews before heading to Yosemite, so I knew I was in for a rough climb. I packed five liters of water and lots of snacks. Drank 3.5 liters on the way up and the last liter and a half on the way down. There were tons of people on the trail that were out of water though.
I'm from Houston (elevation: fifty feet), and I haven't been very active lately, so I'm pretty darn out of shape. I figured that since I'm 21 I would be fine making this hike as long as I was hydrated and well rested. Boy was I in for a shock. When people say this is the ultimate stair climber workout they're not joking. I took breaks practically every switchback when I got further up in elevation. There were four or five times when I came really close to turning around. Somehow I dug deep and managed to make it to the top! Going down wasn't near as bad but if you're overweight think twice before doing this. I'm skinny but my knees were sore and swollen when I got back down to the valley.
Overall it was an awesome hike with great views, just be prepared for it and know what you're getting into.
Didn't realize what I did....
Eileen Leef · Minnesota · June 15, 2012
I was 17 years old and approx. 6 to 7 months pregnant...I was at Yosemite with my aunt and uncle and cousins and it was such a great experience. We camped in tent campers and met some Australians at our camp site. One day we were just going to climb the falls a little bit but as we started to climb my uncle and cousins tired out. Me...I just wanted to go to the top. I remember just going back and forth and back and forth...very exhausting. I carried nothing with me and drank water from the streams falling down from the rocks. I don't think my relatives realized what this was all about. I did get to the top which was just a fantastic sight and stayed there a bit. I remember the top as being rocky and I had to climb around and go to the edge just to see the falls...I could not see the bottom but it was great. I believe it took me somewhere around three hours to get to the top and about the same to get back down. Going down was harder because the steepness made you have to run back and forth all the time. I have read other readers telling of their walk and I guess I didn't realize how dangerous it was. I must have been very fit as myself and my unborn child did this trail quite well. Of course, my relatives were very very glad to see me when I got down because of the time limit and my condition. It was great and I certainly would like to see my capability of doing it again. I do remember there were not many people on the trail. I kind of followed a young married couple at the time and that is about all I remember climbing with me.
Stephanie · Sacramento · June 11, 2012
I'm 20 and have quite muscular legs and often opt for a work out that includes some sort of incline or stairs, so this hike was actually fairly easy for me to ascend. I, like many others, did not bring enough water. I brought 4 bottles in the car but only carried 2 with me on the trail. Luckily I was able to refill at the falls (although not highly advised, but desperate times call for desperate measures). The trail was fairly crowded, but it may have also been due to the fact that it was a free (get outdoors) day. The people are generally quite friendly, although some can be quite rude when it comes to sharing the trail/being considerate of others. Going back down/the descent was the hardest part in my mind. You would think it would be easier, but by the time you head down you are exhausted and your legs are probably already sore. The steepness is rough on the knees when absorbing shock and the fine sand on the trail that covers the rocks/steps makes the descent dangerous. I slipped about 5 times so be careful! I would recommend going to the falls and the point. The falls has amazing views but can be pretty scary--I didn't go all the way because the winds are pretty strong up there and the mist makes it hard to hold the single pipe/guardrail. The point is very relaxing and a great place to regain energy before going back down. The hike took me a total of 6.5 hours including a 20 minute lunch stop and 45 minutes at the top (falls/point). It was worth it, but will take a big toll on your body and consume your whole day. Start early because otherwise you may be stuck hiking back in the dark with the mosquitos (don't make the descent any harder than it needs to be!)--I went back down at 2:30 and over 50% of the trail was already in the shade.
Yosemite Falls Trek
Jim Batey · Westerville, Ohio · June 6, 2012
I had never done anything that strenuous before, and did it alone, at age 60. I had no idea how strenuous it would be when I started, and grossly underestimated how much water to take. I started with just one pint, but some kind person gave me two more along the way. My legs started to cramp about three fourths of the way up, but I made it to the top. The view at the top was well worth the effort to get there. Total time for the hike: 8 hours. I highly recommend it.
Second time around
Scott · San Jose CA · May 13, 2012
My first trip to Yosemite a few years back let me know what shape I was really in (round was the closest shape). Not knowing how strenuous hiking could be, I attempted this trail only to turn back around after getting a huge reality check. My physical fitness level could best be described as a frowny face. From that day on (3 years ago), I kicked the cigarets and junk food and began to train. I would not let some inanimate trail get the best of me. I've watched too many Rocky movies to not come back and kick this trail's behind.
The following two years, and 80 lbs lighter, I came back to conquer the mighty Half Dome. But, this year I decided to come back defeat the trail that once defeated me. I made it to the top in a brisk 3.5 hours and enjoyed the views of the falls and Half dome of in the distance. The top of the falls isn't as rewarding as Half Dome, but awe inspiring nonetheless. Make no mistake, this trail is still very strenuous, so don't make this your very first hike unless you're already in good shape.
Pro Tip: bring sun screen for the exposed sections, a few liters of water, and some salty, protein filled, and carb laden snacks. Your results may vary.
sahibjit · turlock ca · April 28, 2012
It's a pretty good hike. It can be very challenging for some people to get to the upper yosemite falls. It took us around 4 hours to get there and 2 hours to come back. Make sure to bring a lot of water with you. Be careful when rocks are wet, they get very slippery. Overall it's a great hike.
More than strenuous, but worth it!
Kevin · Saratoga, CA · April 27, 2012
Over a few month period last fall (2011), which was unusually warm and dry, I hiked most of the major trails starting or ending in the valley -- Vernal/Nevada Falls via both Mist and Muir trails, 4-Mile Trail to Glacier Point, and Panorama trail. While Upper Yosemite Falls isn't as high or as long as 4-Mile trail, it's considerably more strenuous. For one, it's steeper. But the bigger issue is trail quality. 4-Mile trail is fairly "smooth", while the upper part of Upper Yosemite is like walking through a boulder field. You need to pay especially close attention to where you put your feet. Bring more food and water than you think you'll need. The views from the top are fantastic, but it's also relaxing and beautiful just to sit under a tree and nap.
post-hike spaghetti legs are worth it!
Lisa · Berkeley, CA · April 23, 2012
Today I groan every time I have to use stairs or get up from a seated position, but the views yesterday were totally worth it. The views at the top are phenomenal, but there are also fantastic views of the valley the whole way up. We started the hike around 9 am and finished around 4:30 pm. This included the extension to Yosemite Point (also totally worth it), a long lunch at the top of the falls, water-filtering at a safe place on Yosemite Creek, and multiple breath-catching breaks along the way. The whole hike up was pretty exposed to the sun, which was kind of brutal considering you're going uphill almost non-stop. But on the way back down, many of the worst switch backs were in the shade. We thought starting the hike early would save us from the worst of the heat, but now I wonder if starting in the afternoon might be better, assuming you give yourself enough time to get back in the daylight. It's also worth noting that all the switch backs and steep drop-offs make it hard to find a private place to sneak off to and pee (remember that the nearest bathrooms are at the very bottom in Camp 4), so find somewhere at the top before you start heading back, because it seems like an extra long way down when your bladder is full and you're looking for a semi-private rock to hide behind at every turn!
As others said, make sure you take plenty of food and water (I drank just over two liters on the way up), wear good shoes, and take some blister-prevention stuff with you just in case. It's beautiful--enjoy!!
No joke hike
Sarah · Los Angeles · February 26, 2012
The description for this hike is right on, including the emphasis on how strenuous the hike is and how amazing the views are. A word of caution: we saw several people unprepared for the intensity of this trail - not enough food/snacks or water. Don't underestimate the amount of water or nutrition you'll need. Bring at least two liters of water. Wear layers - especially in winter/spring. It is a rocky, sometimes slippery, trail with areas of soft sand. Wear hiking boots - we saw several people in Converse sneakers or running shoes struggling. Take your time going up and coming down. I referred to my "catch my breath" pauses as "okay, time to gaze at nature in wonderment!". Bring a camera and a sense of camaraderie for your fellow hikers. This is a beautiful, well-defined trail and you will enjoy a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at having climbed it.
Upper Yosemite Falls in a Dry Winter
Cindy · Oakland, CA · January 19, 2012
My husband and I (respectfully in our mid-40's) with our daughter (13) climbed to upper yosemite falls on New Years weekend. Our intentions were to take our daughter cross country skiing, but due to our dry winter we decided to head up the Yosemite falls trail. Our intent wasn't to climb to the top, but after each stop we decided to trek on with just a few bottles of water, apples and cookies. I've climbed the falls I think about 3 other times in my life, but always in the summer and when I was younger. This time of course there wasn't the beauty of the roaring falls, but still an impressive trickle and amazing views. I have to say, if you want to attempt the falls but are frightened by the difficulty, try it in the cooler fall and winter months. Not that the cool weather makes the hike any easier on your legs and lungs, but the heat of the summer makes it much more difficult and you have to carry much more water in the summer.
Emmanuel Lopez · Heperia ca · December 28, 2011
awesome hike...nothing like I've ever done and can't wait to do it all over again next year
Worth the workout, not worth the scenery at all
S. G. · Berkeley, CA · October 23, 2011
I've done the Panoramic Trail and the Four Mile Trail a few times and enjoyed each time. I decided to do the the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail yesterday. I'll never go back on this hike again. There were a few good scenic views but nothing compared to the other trails in the Valley. The top was not worth much. The trail is rocky all the way up so it's really tough to maintain balance.
Most difficult/awesome hike ever
Dan · Missouri · October 17, 2011
I have done this hike three times. It is one of those hikes that you will swear you will never do it again but you do because it calls to you.
Make sure you have been in Yosemite at least 24 hours to acclimate.
Bring plenty of water, lots of trail-mix and beef jerky, and comfortable lightweight hiking shoes, you will need it. Travel light but bring your camera and your sturdiest friend. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the trip up and on the way down you will wish you parked at the trail-head.
(Bicycles are mandatory for me to get around Yosemite Valley on your schedule, cheaper and better quality to buy a decent one off of Craigslist before you go.)
Now you can do all the other hikes in the valley and they will look short and easy! (Except for the Glacier Point 4 mile hike, which is just as hard but not as rewarding...drive to this one.)
Good (much easier) training hikes are Mt Baldy in Angeles National forest and Mt Wilson from the valley floor in Los Angeles.
Brutal - And Totally Worth It
D. Phillips · Baltimore, MD · September 29, 2011
The wife and I picked this hike because we like a challenge; we were not disappointed. We parked near the visitor's center and took the free shuttle to the Campground 4 stop where the trail starts. The trail is off to the left of the campground and is easy to follow the entire way.
The hike starts with a set of switchbacks and you cover a lot of elevation fairly quickly. Most of it is shaded due to the forest, and there's not much to look at until you get to Columbia Rock about a mile in. This gives you the first view of the valley and Halfdome.
At that point, the trail levels out for another mile or so and goes back downhill as you move around the side of the mountain. The view is wonderful for most of this portion of the hike, though shade is not as prevalent. Get an early start if you can (we were on the trail before 9AM in late September).
Once you hit the second stretch of switchbacks the trail gets very hard. It goes nearly straight up and shade is limited. Back and forth and back and forth. Once you've made it out of the switchbacks, it's just a little further to a flat area with plenty of room to relax and have lunch.
At the top you can scramble down some narrow, steep stairs, including a section of steps where you need to hold on to a handrail to keep from falling off the side of the rock face. Very rewarding, though a little terrifying for those who don't like heights. View of the falls is nice, and you get a very nice view of the valley.
If you can do it, take the trail up to Yosemite Point. The slopes are a lot less steep, though the elevation gain is considerable. At the top, the view is breathtaking. We went to Glacier Point later in the day and both agreed the view from Yosemite point was much nicer. Did not hurt that it was just the two of us standing on what seemed like the top of the world.
The way down was difficult, particularly through the upper switchbacks. We spent four hours going up, and just a little over two coming down. We're both in our late twenties, not overweight, and do the gym a few times each week and this was very strenuous for us. The wife said it was probably the hardest physical challenge she's ever had, and she's pretty athletic.
A few notes: Take lots of water. We brought five liters of water and two liters of poweraid and went through it on the way up. I brought a water filter and we refilled in the river before we hiked to Yosemite Point. We also brought lunch and some snacks, and were very happy that we did. There were plenty of folks who did not, and they didn't look very happy.
This is probably the best hike I've ever taken, and even with a pretty light daypack was much more difficult than treks I've done in the Appalachians with a weekend's worth of gear on my back.
Yo-Falls from Valley or Yo-creek via Tioga Road
David Jost · Philadelphia, PA · September 1, 2011
I had the pleasure of hiking this trail from 2 directions, up from the valley floor and back, and starting from Tioga Road, about 13 miles down to the valley floor. A bit dusty coming up from the valley floor the first 3rd. Some slower hikers in sandals caught my attention, not sure they made it all the way. Bring enough water to get to the top and back, or pump water from the steam above. Don't swim in the enticingly beautiful pools above the falls, it's not worth the risk. The railing and out cropping make for exciting views nearly straight down th cliffs. From the Tioga Road trail head you can enjoy a gentle descent with plenty of access to water if you bring a purification pump. Wonderful water scenes, and shaded spots for lunch. The return trip down sheer granite steps is exhilarating, but tread carefully. The trail widens on the lower portion for a speedy descent.
It's All Worth It..
Chuck Dunn · Riverside · August 12, 2011
An early start and plenty to drink and eat make this the great hike of your life, be safe and enjoy..
Up, Up, then Up some more
David · Modesto · August 8, 2011
Very briefly, the views and atmosphere were so enthralling that I didn't always notice the ache in my quads on the way up. The many switchbacks up to the first outlook seemed endless, but the hike really begins when they end. Some portions of the trail are cobblestone, very irregular-- ankle high boots and a walking stick, ski pole, etc. really help. Also, bring lots of water or a purifier for when you reach the top. On a hot day, you may well drink it all on the way up and have little for the way down. Returning to the trailhead, rehydrating was our single-minded goal. Hot, butt-kicking, and highly rewarding hike. Or, you can hike in from Tioga Rd. and be a bit more casual...also a lovely time.
A more serious hike but quite doable for the fit.
vimeo.com/jimonabike · Sacramento · August 4, 2011
Although I came across a number of unlikely looking fitness level people for this hike like grandma and grandpa from the city (and enjoyed lapping them :)
The description given on this web site is spot on. A good alternative is to hike up to about half-way (Columbia Point I believe--the guard-railed overlook). After that is a dicey uphill (lots of sounds of slips and slides among the people) and then a downhill spot (where I said "Geez, I don't want to regain this elevation more than once" and turned back as a bike ride of the valley was calling to me).
Bring plenty of water and then more. And of course the descent is more worrisome than the climb (hard to fall uphill). I found the trail head hard to find (I overshot it and ended up in Camp 4). There is a path inset and following the road that goes to the trail head. I asked many ongoing people if this was the way to the (Upper Yosemite Falls) trail and most said they didn't know (huh?), but it was. BTW, when I was there (7/4/2011) there was a steady stream of people up and down so it was more the Times Square rather than wilderness experience (refer to my Yosemite video).
One of the best sweats I ever broke
Bert · Currently Lincoln, NE · August 3, 2011
I've done this hike three times--over the years. I used to live much closer than I do now. It's a great workout with spectacular views. I've hiked in Denali, Patagonia, climbed Kilimanjaro. Yosemite Falls is about as good as day hikes get. The trail is good with well-engineered switchbacks. Though it is true that it's two Empire State Building's worth of stairmaster climbing, a fit person who likes to sweat can simply put 'er in gear and thoroughly enjoy the day. It's also a good trail to run down!
Diana · Livermore, CA · July 31, 2011
We went on this hike on July 30, 2011. We started at 10 a.m. and it was already hot. We started with a pretty good pace. 45 minutes later our pace was slowing down. The hike starts with plenty of shade, then you are exposed to pure sunshine. Bring a hat if you're going during the summer. The hike is very hard. You definitely have to be in decent shape. Half way up, we were running low on water. We ran into a a tiny water fall with freezing water. We cooled ourselves off and decided to drink the water. It was so refreshingly good. I don't recommend doing this, since they do warn that the water may contain Giardia lambia, a microscopic protozoan that upsets human digestive systems. My son and I have no signs of any upsets. Other people were drinking from this source as well. Bring a portable purifier to be safe. The views along the way are extremely breathtaking. At the top you'll find a look out that is very steep to get down to. You walk down a very narrow step with a not-so-safe looking rail. There is also a "river" where the fall begins. It's not safe to go in, but you can definitely find some safe spots to put your feet in. The descent down is as hard as it is going up. If you've got knee problems, the descent will kill you. I recommend buying walking poles. I still hit myself on the head for not getting one. You can buy them for as little as $14.95 at the Yosemite Valley store. I am still in awe when I look at the pictures. I still can't believe I did it.
Well worth the 4 days of soreness
Melissa · San Jose, CA · July 8, 2011
I consider myself in decent shape, usually doing 2-3 mile jogs twice a week and staying active. We started this hike just before noon and didn't get back down to the car until 6:30 at night. It is quite an incline, but nothing too intense all at once. The top of the falls are gorgeous, and the views along the way are well worth the trip. I visited early may this year and the water sounded like a jet plane. HOWEVER, fair warning to bring a snack (I only brought water) and if you are hiking later in the evening long sleeve thin layer to fend off chills. I was sore really badly (calves and quads) for about 3 days and after about 6 days I felt back to normal. Definitely worth it. And you can refill your water bottle at the streams if need be, so it's not like half dome where you have to lug a gallon or two all the way up. [Editor's Note: The small streams along the Yosemite Falls trail usually dry up at some point during the summer; if you're hoping to rely on them, try checking with a park ranger first to make sure they're still running. The park service recommends treating surface water before drinking it.]
Couldn't bend my knees afterward, but was definitely worth it!
Meaghan · Denver · July 6, 2011
Wow, this was a challenge, but it was absolutely worth it. The views of Half Dome and the valley are stunning and falls themselves are gorgeous. You need to be in decent enough shape to pull this one off; if you think the switchbacks in the forested beginning part of the trail are hard, just wait til you get higher up. And be CAREFUL on the slippery rocks near the falls! I wiped out on a spray-covered rock on my way down and hurt my arm, ouch, hiked out in a sling. Saw a few other descending hikers stumble or fall on my way up too and my companion slipped as well; it's quite steep and rocky and slick in spots so be prepared. Still worth it though, what an amazing experience! Your aching knees will recover and your memories will last a lifetime.
What a hike!
Scott Hamilton · Moraga, CA · July 5, 2011
This trail was a great experience! It is definitely as strenuous as described. It is both steep and rocky - I found it harder coming down than going up. That said, the views of Upper Yosemite Fall and the surrounding Valley are amazing and well worth the effort. The extra distance (and climb) to Yosemite Point are also highly rewarding. This hike made for a great day - a fabulous workout that allowed me to enjoy my dinner that night at the Ahwahnee Dining Room all the more! Will never forget it!
Oh my god
Bob · Berkeley · June 26, 2011
The best of the worst. Stairway to heaven but hell along the way. Well worth it but please keep your brand new shoes at home. God save the knees!!!
For those who are up to it, do Yosemite Fall day one and top Nevada the next day and call me later. I have done so a couple of times and was more than glad to sit in my car for the trip home.
20 years and again
DanaMite from Total Escape · Pismo Beach, California · June 9, 2011
I just hiked this last week for the second time in my life and I still love it. Back in 1991 a college roommate and I hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls one day and then did Half Dome trail the next day. What were we thinking? This time was great because it was exactly 20 years later and I am still able to hike this kinda crazy trail, plus the waterfalls are all seriously 'going off' in the Valley this year. What a wonderous way to spend the day.
Challenging but worth every second
Kristin · Elk Grove, CA · June 1, 2011
I have never hiked anything so strenuous in my life, I've only done simple little trails so I wasn't really prepared for the difficulty of this trail but it was the most amazing experience of my life. It is mostly rocks and is pretty much straight up hill. By the time I reached the top of the falls I couldn't feel my legs anymore and I was completely out of energy, but after a quick snack of trail mix, an apple, and plenty of water I was ready for the very strenuous hike back down. Going down the mountain was a little scary because it was so steep and if you slip you are only 5 feet from the edge where you would have a long ways down to the ground. It is not something I would recommend doing if you have small children with you. This is something you do need to be in pretty good shape for but it is absolutely worth doing. It was one of the best things I have ever experienced!
CYA Boilerplate: The opinions on this page are those of the reviewers themselves, and are not official advice from or the responsibility of yosemitehikes.com. You're responsible for your own safety when you're hiking in Yosemite. You look terrific; have you lost weight?