Amazing Trip Down The Panorama Trail!
Matt · Boston · August 11, 2017
My fiance and I took the 8:30am one-way bus from Yosemite Lodge to Glacier Point in August '17 and hiked down the Panorama Trail. We had the most incredible day and it would have never been possible if not for this website, so I wanted to "pay it forward" and write a review that might help others have the same great experience. We are from Boston and both in average/decent shape, but both naturally athletic - three days later, our legs are still sore, but it was completely worth it. I would 100% recommend hiking boots - it would have been VERY difficult in sneakers. The first part of the hike down to Illilouette Falls was incredibly enjoyable and rather easy, a nice steady down hill on a path. The scenery and views are remarkable - starting at Glacier Point, and steadily changing with views of Half Dome, Vernal & Nevada Falls, and then eventually Illilouette Falls. Once you cross the bridge at Illilouette Creek, be prepared for a pretty strenuous uphill climb - it took us about 1.5 hours from the bridge over the creek to the top of the ascent. Be sure not to miss Panorama Point, about .5 miles past the bridge - as others have mentioned, it is not marked, but it veers off to the left and is clearly a man-made trail as it cuts through some bushes and eventually opens up to an incredible view of the whole valley. The next highlight was the spectacular views of Yosemite Falls (Upper & Lower) from above - a completely unique angle. After stopping for lunch, we began going down again, starting to hear and see Nevada Falls. We decided to take the Mist Trail down, which in hindsight, was maybe not the best idea, as it is very crowded and quite steep, but we thought it was better scenery than the Muir Trail. If you're tired and at all hurting at this point, I'd definitely recommend taking the Muir trail down.
When all was said and done, we made it to the Happy Isles Shuttle Stop (#17) about 6.5 hours after we started (keeping in mind we stopped for about 20 minutes at Panorama Point and about 40 minutes for lunch). We took the shuttle right back to the Yosemite Lodge, which was crowded, but still rather easy and convenient.
We truly had one of the most amazing days and we were able to see so much of the park, all on one hike. Definitely bring lots of water and snacks. We will always remember the spectacular day we spent hiking down the Panorama Trail - I couldn't recommend it more!
Some of the best views available on a trail in Yosemite!
Kelley Wright · South Bay · June 12, 2017
The views at the starting point for this hike at Glacier Point are astounding! At the same time you are viewing Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls AND Half Dome! This hike is mostly downhill although there is some uphill coming out of Illilouette Falls. Illilouette Falls is also spectacular and not something that a Yosemite lover should miss. Beautiful views throughout almost all of this hike! There is a lookout just past the switchbacks after Illilouette Falls to the left that used to have a metal rail, so be careful. It is easy to miss and is obscured by bushes. You can come down by either the John Muir Trail or the Nevada Falls and Mist trail. Take your pick! Five stars for a hike that most people can do and also the gorgeous views!
Allen Grigg · Sacramento · October 1, 2016
Won't find a more stunning hike on Earth. Words cannot describe the majestic scenery. Just do it!
It's so beautiful it drove me crazy
Amanda · Merced, CA · August 29, 2016
My brother and I did the "kick ass" alternate route last weekend (near the end of August). We started at 4 Mile Trail, which is pretty tough, but it was nice to get that part out of the way early in the hike. Taking in the views as you move up the trail is wonderful, the valley changes so quickly as you get higher. Then you can see Yosemite Falls start out above you and end up below you (although there was no water in the falls when we went). Half Dome is pretty much in your face at Glacier Point.
Reaching Glacier Point after all that work is a trip, because there are a ton of people there who just drove up. We were dirty and panting and beat up, and we did not fit in. Having the store there is pretty cool though, you can really lighten your load (food, etc) on the trek up, and just stock up and/or eat at Glacier Point. There is also drinking water so you can refill.
It was (pretty much) downhill from there. And so beautiful! It was totally amazing. As you move around the valley rim you see something else, or from another angle, and it's just stunning. Words cannot describe it.
At the beginning I said to my brother "We are going to the top of that mountain." He thought I was kidding. HA! Then, when we got on the Panorama Trail I pointed out Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls and said "We're going to those waterfalls." Again, he thought I was kidding. HAHA!
That "little" 700 feet incline before reaching Nevada Falls felt pretty long.
We went down the Mist Trail at the end. Nevada & Vernal Falls still had water, but not half as much as they did back in early June. There was no "mist" along the trail. Going down with all those rocky stairs was not easy, especially since we were pretty tired at this point. Walking along the falls was still lovely, though.
When we got to the Valley Floor we first went to the market at the Village to rest up, and then endeavored to walk back to the car at the 4 Mile Trail head. While this website says we should've gone about 17 miles, my iphone says we went 23. I don't know what to make of that.
We had stopped along the way to take in the scenery, rest and eat, but our stops were not too long. We started at about 8am and were back to the car, half dead, by 7pm. It was a really great day. This hike is long, difficult in many places, and totally worth it. We had never seen Yosemite like that before, we loved it. It truly changes your perspective.
Eamon Marcus McCoole · San Francisco · August 22, 2016
After a couple decades I still remember doing this hike (1993). If you frequent Yosemite, this is a nice hike to do on a visit, although if you're only in Yosemite for a short duration, I would prioritize Valley hikes and activities.
The Panorama Trail usually requires a bus ride up to Glacier Point, unless you want to walk up then ride down, or walk up and down. I took the bus and walked down. Back then the trail had few hikers and it was autumn. I was in search of colors, but Yosemite is evergreens country. Not many colors, but stellar views from top-of-valley to valley-bottom. It's long, took me all day, and I was younger with more stamina. I won't do it again, it's a one-off. You'll traverse three waterfalls.
A Must Do in your life time
BobbyC1Texas · Texas · June 16, 2016
After reading several reviews for this trail I finally convinced my wife that she would enjoy the Panorama Trail hike. She was concerned that you had to be young and in particularly good shape to make this so called Strenuous hike!
There are a lot of various conclusions from reviews that may lead someone to think this is more difficult than what it actually is. Having just completed the hike last week I wanted to set the record straight for someone concerned about the trail & from a couple in their mid-50s and moderately fit.
We took the one-way bus tour from the Lodge at Yosemite Falls to Glacier Point. (Note: book as far in advance as possible as both one way and round trip were sold out this day) Glacier Point is one of the best views of the entire park and you want to see that anyway.
We took the 10 am tour & started out on Panorama Trailhead at exactly noon. The weather was good, a high of about 81* F and the falls were roaring in early summer.
I took regular 2 bottles of water and a 2 litter water bladder filled with ice and water and some snacks. (We had a big breakfast and would snack for lunch, then reward ourselves with Pizza at Half Dome camp later for dinner.)
I carried just the one back pack for the two of us and each of us had a camera and walking stick. (one set Trekking Poles come in real handy)
Walking at a moderate pace & taking in all the views we were probably passed by every other hiker we saw that afternoon and the full 8.8 miles took us 7.10 hours to complete. We stopped at every waterfall with brief breaks & with a long rest / and snack break @ 5.2 miles in and at Nevada falls. We also found the lookout point mentioned in several reviews that is just after Illouette falls. I must note that after the Illouette falls about 2.7 mile into hike there is about a .50 to .75 mile hike up hill before starting down again. During this part of the Hike we were joined by a rather large full grown bear which was both thrilling and terrifying. But kind of made that part of the hike worthwhile.
Most of the hike is downhill but there is some uphill while hiking. The views of the valley and of all water falls are unbelievable. I am so glad we took the time to enjoy the hike and see the valley and falls from this vantage point. We skipped the trail to Mist falls down (per my agreement to get my wife to go with me) and instead took the John Muir after Nevada falls. The John Muir offers some great view of the falls and is a series of pretty steep switch backs that can be hard on the knees calves and toes but probable the better alternative to Mist trail if you have concerns for your leg joints.
I can from experience say this trail is worth the aches and pains the next day and could be considered a bit strenuous just due to the length and time spent to complete it. The down hills made both of us sore mainly in our calf muscles with my wife’s the worst for a couple days afterwards. I would say if you have knee or leg issues this could be painful as it is a long hike 8.8 miles. The weather was good for us but if it was hotter it could make it more difficult and you would likely need twice the water I took on our hike with each person carrying a 2 or 3-liter Bladder of water. Over all there is nothing along the trail that would be considered difficult or scary … unless you have a close incounter with a bear like we did. Even that was kind of thrilling and exciting for the hike.
I strongly recommend the Panorama trail and suggest walking in your home area for 8.5 mile walks before doing the trail. My wife and I were walking daily and doing 8 mile walks every now and then before heading to Yosemite. This took us a lot longer to complete than just walking around the neighborhood and small hills. But it is completely doable for anyone who wants the adventure.
Fat man's Tale of the Panoramic Trail
Charles Lutz · Flowery Branch, Ga. · June 14, 2016
Yesterday, I walked the trail from Glacier Point to the valley floor via Panoramic Trail, Nevada and Vernal Falls and the Mist Trail. Today I am resting...
This trip has been on my bucket list since my last visit to Yosemite over 20 years ago when I was half the man I am now. At the time I was serving in the Air Force and stationed in Sacramento. When we made the trip I was in my 20's and Glacier Point road was closed, so I hiked the 4 mile trail to Glacier Point. By the time I reached the top, I knew we wouldn't be able to make the Panoramic hike due to the late start and begrudgedly hiked back down only to wonder what could have been.
This time, my wife dropped my two girls and me off at Glacier Point and then she spent the day in the valley while we took the hike. We found the "secret" path to the point (which we wouldn't have known about if not for this site) and had it all to ourselves. The views and the pictures we took were stunning. The trip was everything I had imagined and more.
From a logistics standpoint, we all wore tennis shoes and hiking boots would have been a much better choice as we all ended up on our butts at some point. I took a nice slip and fall on the mist trail and my tailbone has a story of its own. While the temperature was awesome (high 60's), water was the other thing I longed for, as the 8 12oz bottles we started with only lasted the three of us until the top of Nevada falls. I found myself on the mist trail with my mouth open trying to wet my thirst. At best, I would consider myself in tennis shape and at 260lbs, I was the biggest boy on the trail by far. If you consider your shape "round" like me, you had better not plan anything for the next day. I have pushed off white water rafting for a day so I can rest.
Scratch this one off the bucket list... But I have already started to make plans for another visit. I now feel motivated to get into shape and iron man it by adding the 4-mile trail to the hike.
It Really Is Panoramic!
Shaina Kaiser · Pittsburgh · April 25, 2016
This hike was absolutely breathtaking!! I hiked up Vernal and Nevada Falls first before heading over to Glacier Point. Thinking back, I think I know where I missed Panorama Point. I can't believe all of the spectacular views I had throughout the WHOLE hike. I'm a fast hiker so it only took me 7 hours to complete the trip but this is a must do hike for anyone who has the time! I would do it again.
Kick-Ass Alternate Route as the text says!
Diego · Mexico City, Mexico · April 5, 2016
Visited the park last June and we decided to hike the Four Mile Trail + Sentinel Dome and Panorama Trail. As both descriptions say the views are incredible. From Curry Village to Glacier Point the hike took us about 4 hours, don't miss Union Point and the first view of Half Dome - Tenaya Canyon. After Glacier Point we hiked to the top of Sentinel Dome (about 1 more hour). Again the views were incredible (360°C) and the high sierra was also visible to the east. After that, we returned to Glacier Point and then hiked the Panorama Trail to Nevada Fall. Don't miss Panorama Point (which doesn't have a sign). From Nevada Fall we returned via John Muir Trail and arrived to Curry Village (now Half Dome Village) about 7pm. I strongly recommend you to carry plenty of water and to refill your bottles in Glacier Point (there is a fountain there). Have a good hike!
Panorama- the true story
Rich · Sidney, Ohio · July 7, 2015
I read the reviews posted here and almost decided not to do the Panorama trail. I am posting this review to give our take on the hike.
Four of us (ages 17-68) did the Glacier Point 8.94 mile hike in less than 3.5 hours. We are from the flat lands of Ohio.
We had 40 toenails between us when we started and 40 when we ended. The 3.5 hours is walking time. We took our time to view fun things along the way.
Although the Mist Trail steps are a challenge, we have hiked all over Wyoming and Colorado, and the Panorama hike is one of the very best in our experience.
If anyone had a problem with this hike, then I suggest you stay away from the Tetons in Wyoming.
Fantastic but longer than listed
Claudia · Palm Harbor FL · June 7, 2015
We took the bus to Glacier Point with every intention of doing the Four Mile Trail. I had researched it, read reviews about and prepared for it. But on the bus up, the driver started talking about a friend of hers, an avid hiker, had lost her toenails it was so strenuous. That didn't sit well with my husband. The driver then said, that while only about twice as long, but far much less strenuous, take the Panorama Trail. But, I hadn't read about it, read no reviews, no research, we didn't bring a map...... so we did it anyway. I hate to say this, and I beg anyone to prove me wrong. Hubby just got his iWatch and the Panorama Trail, Glacier Point to the Nevada Falls, down the Mist Trail to Happy Isles, it logged 16.5 miles. Not only that, so did our Garmin. Not the 8.3 every map and description tells you. Where the discrepancy is I don't know, all I know is we left Glacier Point at 10:45 and walked into Happy Isles at 7:15. Great hike though. Bring plenty of water. And yes, we're still losing toenails.
Worth every step
Chris C · Albuquerque, NM · May 22, 2015
Truly epic hike! My wife and I caught the 10am bus to Glacier Point. Admiring the view and seeing where the next 5 hours would take us was breathtaking. The hike to Illouette Falls was easy and straight forward. We found a great spot to have lunch next to the stream. During the 1.5 mile climb we found the spur trail that takes you to Panorama Point. It's not hard to spot and well worth the short detour. The hike to Nevada Falls was fairly easy for us and enjoyed great views along the way. The top of Nevada Falls was amazing, but we were a little surprised to see that my GPS was reading @6.5 miles since we left Glacier Point. We knew it was 3 miles to the valley floor and we had done minimal off trail exploring at Illouette Falls. At this point we started down the endless stairs of the Mist Trail. If your feet, knees, and hips aren't sore at this point, they will be by the time you reach the bottom. While descending the Mist Trail don't forget to turn around and check out the view! My GPS signal was weak towards the bottom of Vernal Falls and eventually re acquired a signal and read 10.4 miles at the Happy Isles shuttle stop. Nearly 2 unexpected miles. However, if you can hike 8 miles, you can do 10.
Panorama Trail or the hike that almost killed me (just kidding, I didn't die, just felt like I was going to!)
Antonnina · New Jersey · December 3, 2014
My boyfriend and I did this hike the last week of June 2014. We started at Glacier Point around 9 am and hiked down. We stopped at the top of Nevada Falls for lunch and to soothe our aching feet in the river. We "trained" for this hike all winter by hiking 6 -7 miles once a week at eastern PA state parks. We're also experienced cyclists and we average 25 - 30 miles a few times a week. We hiked that day with poles and my bf carried a day pack with food and water.
The various descriptions of how scenically beautiful the hike is are entirely accurate.
The problem we experienced was that we trained for uphill hiking and our trip was mostly downhill.
At first it seemed ridiculously easy: wide trails, gentle switchbacks and not too close to the edge. Spectacular views of Half Dome across the Valley.
After lunch we headed down the first segment of the Mist Trail. Slippery, bumpy and crowded with people coming up who hadn't already been hiking for five miles.
By the time we reached the last mile which was a paved trail leading to Happy Isles our feet were killing us and I could hardly walk. I'd never hiked an exclusively downhill hike before and it was a revelation.
Next time I'll take the Muir Trail!
Lew Blank · Middleton, WI, United States · August 31, 2014
If you have one day in Yosemite, this is the perfect hike! Me (15) and my parents (50 and 52) took the 8:30 bus up to Glacier Point. We reserved the tickets two days before. The historical narration was very fascinating. The views of Glacier Point were amazing, and from the main viewing area we found the trailhead and began descending. All along the way the views continued. Definitely bring energy chews and lots of water. There were pretty flowers and grasses and trees along the way. After about two miles of wilderness, we dipped our feet into Illilouette Creek, and gazed at the waterfall. I did find the Panorama Point trail and the views of Half Dome and the valley were amazing, but you need to constantly look left to find it. The 700 feet of climbing wiped my parents out - it was a bit more than expected for them. At last, after another three challenging miles, we made it to the Nevada Falls Bridge. I took the Mist Trail down by myself and it was very steep. From the mile before Nevada Falls to the bridge at the bottom of Vernal Falls, it is slick, dusty, and steep. The waterfall views were incredibly rewarding. Now, the time of my hike was August 26, and Vernal Falls was there but not too wide, and with the tiny bit of 4G I had I saw my Facebook nomination for the Ice Bucket Challenge. I read all the signs saying not to swim at the top of waterfalls, but swimming at the bottom was icy-cold and misty but didn\'t seem dangerous. I guess it is though. I finished the hike perfectly fine, but my dad almost couldn't walk at the end and it took him about ten hours to finish. So, this is a beautiful classic Yosemite hike with amazing unreal views down to the valley and beautiful waterfalls. If you can only do one hike, this has to be it. It might be a little more than you bargained for, so prepare.
Thanks also to Yosemite Hikes for the laughs and the learning - it helped a lot!
Rebecca · Missouri · July 2, 2014
We opted for the Panorama Trail after meeting some folks who raved about this hike. The trail was not crowded until we reached Nevada to join up with the Mist Trail. We met a young couple at the beginning and ended up staying with them for the entire hike. We also encountered some park volunteers who were insightful and friendly.
The majority of this hike is downhill and gives some great views of Half Dome, Illilouette Fall, Nevada, and the valley. It was 8 miles of amazing sights. I've hiked to Half Dome before and the views on this trail were just as wonderful.
Bring more water than you think you will need. This hike took us around 6 hours and we nearly ran out at Vernal Fall.
Awesome day hike!
Irina Struganova · Orlando, Florida · August 14, 2013
I hiked this trail twice, once in early May and once in mid June. Both times, from Glacier Point down. It is absolutely gorgeous!!! The hike is easy until Nevada Falls, but then it is steep down, if you decide to follow the river and the Mist Trail. If you are not in good shape, your legs will get tired. I found the river portion of the trails more scenic in May: much more water and rainbows. Plan to start early to have plenty of time to enjoy: you can walk down the valley in four hours, but if you like taking pictures or just enjoy looking around, you'll probably need 6+ hours...
joe · san diego, CA · July 7, 2013
I have done this hike two times starting from Glacier Point. I hiked to Nevada Falls and then down to the valley floor via the John Muir trail. I have not gone down the Mist Trail so I cannot comment on the difference between the Mist and John Muir trails. Still, I find going down John Muir trail to be quite monotonous and hard on the feet/knees, but most likely a little easier on the joints than the steps of the Mist Trail. The views along the path are great. Spectacular views of Upper Yosemite, Vernal, and Nevada Falls, Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, and do not miss Panorama Point. I have been alone at Panorama Point the two times I have visited the spot. This is a great spot to take a short break after you start hiking up from Illilouette Falls. Panorama Point is a very majestic, relaxing, and contemplative experience. Also, stopping at both the Illilouette Falls footbridge area and Nevada Falls allow you to take a rest break and soak your feet in the cold water. Thanks to this website for the advice and information regarding this wonderful hike. Editor's note: please exercise extreme caution when dipping your feet into rivers upstream from waterfalls.
The. Best. Dayhike. Period.
Drew · Los Angeles · June 5, 2013
I did the route yesterday, starting from the Four Mile Trailhead up to Glacier Point, down the Panorama Trail and finally down the Mist Trail. I'm convinced this is the way to do it. The views of the valley and especially Yosemite Falls as you go up Four Mile are incredible and only grow as you go up. It's like a well-designed theme park attraction. Sentinel Rock provides a perfect measuring stick (when you start, you think there's no way in hell you'll top it and then, when you do, you can't believe it) and the Half-Dome reveal is a perfectly timed and unexpected surprise. Also, being able to see where you started is a hugely inspirational boost.
Reaching Glacier Point is a relief (though you feel hilariously out of place with all of the people who drove up there). And then the real joy begins. Panorama Trail is magnificent and a very relieving gentle downhill to Illouette Falls. A slightly disconcerting uphill section follows but this is over fast and you'll be well on your way to the Mist Trail. Dip your feet and wash your face at the top of Nevada Falls, gaze at the insanely beautiful Liberty Cap and the back of Half Dome and start making your way down.
And here's the kicker. Because of this timing (started Four Mile at 10am, left Glacier Point after lunch at 2pm on June 3rd), you'll hit Nevada and Vernal at perfect golden hour. After that many hours and the huge elevation gains, I didn't think I had any more room for beauty in my day. Boy, was I wrong. Rainbows at both falls, gold-hued water pouring over those 600 and 400 foot drops. I was absolutely stunned.
I simply can't imagine a better dayhike. Yosemite is already the best park in my mind (by a mile) but this hike sealed the deal for me. In terms of the variety of scenery, timing of viewpoints to push you forward, and just the right amount of challenge, it simply can't be beat.
So trust me, do it. Bring lots of film and do it. Wear good shoes and do it. Get ready to enjoy a long, difficult but highly achievable dayhike that puts all others to shame.
And P.S., buy Aleve and Epsom Salt bath mix for the next day. If you're anything like me, you'll probably need it.
megan · salt lake city · May 29, 2013
My boyfriend and I hiked up the 4 Mile Trail and down the Panorama Trail last week (May 2013). We parked in the Wilderness Parking Lot in Curry Village and took the shuttle to the Yosemite Fall stop where we got off, crossed the meadow on the paved path (about a mile), and then started up at the trailhead for 4 Mile Trail. This allowed us to walk about a half mile back to the car when we were finished hiking, instead of shuttling at the end of the day. Going up was tough, but WOW, the view of Yosemite Falls all the way up is awesome, especially as you are climbing and the view changes relative to where you are in elevation. Also, the first time you see Half Dome is spectacular, you come around corner and BAM! Everything along the Panorama Trail was stunning and we saw very few people. The falls were lovely and the views of different parts of the valley made for continuous oohs and ahs. We took off our shoes and put our feet in at the top of Illilouette Falls which felt wonderful, although very cold. About three miles up the 4 Mile Trail is Union Point, where my boyfriend proposed to me. I couldn't imagine a more beautiful setting to get engaged, and the experience was enhanced by the rest of the awesome hike. I would highly recommend doing the full hike instead of taking the bus. It was extremely rewarding and the best day we had in Yosemite.
Mike · San Francisco · May 22, 2013
I did this today and it was amazing! It took me 6 hours to go from Glacier Point to the Valley so go prepared. Scenic is right! Bring your camera, lots of water, lunch, snacks and wear hiking boots. (I don't get the Yosemite crowd who wear sneakers to hike in.)
Beautiful scenery surrounds you. I was stopping every 100 feet or so to take a picture, but then I am a photographer so...
I went from Glacier Point to the Valley and the first hour and a half is down hill. Not steep, gradual down to Illilouette Falls. Hiking up and out of falls area is not tough but I was carrying a lot of gear so I felt it. On the way up, I found the unmarked detour to Panorama Point and it is a beautiful view. Just don't go near the edge as it is a sheer drop off. The trail levels off and you have spectacular views of Half Dome's back side in addition to other domes, etc. You might have to come down the Mist Trail like I did as the John Muir Trail was closed due to a rock fall so again, leave the sneakers in the car. The Mist Trail is steep, slippery and in some spots narrow but the hike overall is one that you will not forget!
Panorama Trail-Heaven on Earth!
Robert Alvarez/Nancy · Northern California · May 21, 2013
Before doing this hike I read as much as I could to prepare myself for this hike going in the opposite direction that most people hike it. My normal hike distance is 15 miles so this hike is near that distance. Listed are my hiking times at major intersections and it is important to note Nancy and I did not rush through this hike. We stopped for pictures, stopped at Panorama Point, ate lunch (1/2 hour) at Glacier Point, stopped at Union Point to enjoy the view for 1/2 hour:
1) Happy Isles trailhead 10:20am
2) Top of Vernal Falls by bridge 11:05am
3) Top of Nevada Falls 12:13am
4) Panorama Point 1:30pm
5) Illilouette Bridge 2:00pm
6) Glacier Point 3:30pm
7) Four Mile Trailhead to valley floor 4:00pm
8) Union Point & 3 mile sign to valley floor 4:50pm
9) Four Mile Trail staging area 6:30pm
As you can see it took us (8) hours to complete this hike and we were not in a hurry. We wanted to see and enjoy the beauty available during this hike. You must be in good shape to accomplish this hike from bottom to top but it can be accomplished. On a final note, I will be getting my senior pass to Yosemite in two years. Enjoy our National Parks!
Lisa · Newport Beach, CA · April 22, 2013
Let me start off by saying I'm a total newbie at hiking. During a vacation to Yosemite we decided to do the Panorama Trail, it was absolutely beautiful! It was fairly easy, but like I mentioned I am rather new into the hiking craze, so it was a little difficult at times for me. The first part of the trail was one breathtaking site after another. Toward the end, near Nevada Falls my knees began hurting and I had some major blisters on my poor feet. My fault for wearing brand new hiking shoes. All and all if you are well prepared for an all day hike this is an amazing little adventure. Bring a camera, you don't want to miss any picture opportunities.
Glacier Point to Happy Isles (Valley Floor) by way of The Panorama Trail
Ken Johnson · CA · January 26, 2013
I have done this hike both ways several times with and without our family. To my mind, this is the best hike to take if you are only going to be in the Park 3-4 days. The best plan is to go from GP down to the valley floor (at Happy Isles). This is a good hike for kids 12 and up because most of the hike is downhill switchbacks with views starting almost immediately.
Also, you are looking toward your various points of interest (that you already have seen from GP) as you make your descent. The most breath-taking sight and sound as you approach Nevada Fall is the increasing noise of the Fall itself. When you reach Nevada Fall, you can stand at the rim behind the railing and watch the water cascade over the edge as it plummets approx 360 ft to the base of the Fall. Then cross over the bridge for about a quarter mile, and take the trail leading down to a flat walk to the top of Vernal Fall. On your way to the top of Vernal, you will pass Emerald Pond -- take a swim across to sun bathe on the rocks or just take your boots off and sit on the bank with the water brushing your toes. No swimming or wading from there on -- too dangerous. [Editor's note: According to the NPS, entering Emerald Pool is prohibited. Please stay safe and remember that you hike at your own risk.]
When you get to the top of Vernal Fall, you can look down the valley -- the Mist Trail is on your left. Take the Mist Trail stairs down just to the side of the Fall. Depending on the time of the year, you will get sopped. Then you come to the final bridge -- you're almost home; 1 mile to Happy Isles. Your whole family will talk about the venture for years to come -- our family has.
OMG! This has everything!
Debby · Fairview, TN · January 5, 2013
My 70 year old mother and I hiked this trail from Glacier Point to the valley floor. One great view after another ... at least for the first six miles to Nevada Fall. Do not miss Panorama Point - if you pay attention and know where to look (this website is great!) you won't miss the side trail. The views are just stunning. We hiked to the top of Nevada Fall then went down the John Muir trail. The trail isn't too steep, either uphill or downhill, but after the great view of Nevada Fall from the JMT, it is not particularly scenic as the trail winds through the woods.
One note of warning - DO NOT hike this trail in tennis shoes. After Nevada Fall the trail is very rocky and slick. After already walking more than six miles, my feet would have gladly invested in shoes more appropriate for hiking. My Mom had bought hiking shoes - she was in better shape at the bottom than me! (With age comes wisdom, I guess)
If we had it to do over, we would hike to Nevada Fall, walk the short distance down the JMT to see the view, then hike back up to Glacier Point. Although that would be longer in miles, it would be easier on the feet and it would be great to see the views at different times of the day. See Vernal Fall via the Mist Trail.
September morn sojourn
mrblister · Nebraska · September 21, 2012
Did this trail from Glacier Pt. to Nevada Falls. Scenery will rival any trail in Yosemite. One water source along the way, but you can fuel up before leaving. Looking down at Vernal and Nevada will almost buckle your knees. Trail traffic was sparse (on a thursday). Not overly strenuous for Joe hiker types. Would certainly do this again, from either direction.
Best Day Hike in Valley
Josh · Huntington Beach · August 8, 2012
Best day hike in valley. Non stop head turning views. Panorama Trail for a reason, and you get Mist Trail on the way down? Steep, but beautiful. One of the most scenic day hikes I've ever done, actually probably the best day hike I've ever done.
Amazing Panorama trail + four miles trail in one days + mist trail
Pierre Grizard · France · August 4, 2012
This is really strenuous, you go up to the Nevada falls and then it goes up and down to the glacier point (more up). The sceneries are beautiful. Be careful with water, you won't find anything until you are at the glacier point (we began with the mist trail). We started at 9am and finished at 8pm.
From the rim to the valley!
Bret · Central Florida · July 14, 2012
This is THE hike to take from the rim to the valley. The views are spectacular. I took it in June. As a bonus, saw a small buck, 3 by 3, near Illouette Falls.
Don't miss Panorama Point. I got there and had a hard time pulling myself away.
Suggestion: When you reach the John Muir Trail, walk all the way to the top of Nevada Falls, then retrace your steps back to the John Muir Trail and take it down. The Mist Trail gives better views on the way up. Make that a separate hike.
I was going to take this hike as the hike to Half Dome, but I lost the lottery. In a way, I'm glad I did. Gave me more time to enjoy the hike, rather than be focused on getting to the cables.
Reward for the effort: 4 out of 5.
I'd give it a 5 out of 5, except the 9 miles, or so, distance makes the effort harder than those I list as 5s. If I go back, I will definitely plan on taking this hike again.
One of the Best Ways to see Yosemite Valley
Alisa · Roseville, CA · July 4, 2012
I hiked the Panorama trail in late May, going from Glacier Point to the valley floor via the Mist Trail since we had two cars. Normally I would have taken the John Muir Trail down but was with some friends who had never seen the Nevada or Vernal Falls. In my opinion this hike lets you see almost all of the major falls in the valley, with the exception of Bridalveil, but we stopped to see that on the drive up to Glacier Point. However, fighting the crowds going down the Mist Trail was not fun, and a little nerve-wracking at times.
In mid-June we decided to do the trail again, but added the Four-Mile trail to the beginning. Combining those two trails makes for the ultimate Yosemite day hike. Due to the dry winter Yosemite Fall was a shadow of what it was in May but the hike was still beautiful, with one of the best views of Clouds Rest and Half Dome that I have seen so far. We had planned on going down the JMT but there were so few people on the Mist Trail that we did that again. Without fighting the crowds the descent was really pleasant and we moved at a really quick pace.
I recommend going up Four-Mile Trail and down Panorama rather than the reverse simply because the lighting is better for photography. Yosemite Falls looks better in the morning and Vernal and Nevada are better later in the day. There are a lot of trees down on the Panorama Trail due to a bad windstorm the previous winter, with one tree haven taken out the sign at the Panorama/Buena Vista Trail junction, so definitely review a trailmap before you go and familarize yourself with all the trail junctions.
warning fallen log
Brian · Canada · June 29, 2012
I have been hiking for a couple of years and consider myself fairly capable. I had difficulty navigating this route due to the poor signage. At the first fork, there is a fallen log that blocks the paths. From ground level you can clearly see one of the paths, but the other, correct path is blocked by the fallen tree. If you take the visible path, it will lead you off track! It was only after wandering about 1.5 miles down this wrong path that we met other hikers returning who warned us of this mistaken path. We had to backtrack to get back to the correct path. In total we added about 3 miles of walking to this hike! Ugh. Is it too much to ask the park rangers to cut the log so the the forking paths are visible?
Also, the signage has no arrows pointing the directions of the paths.
best 10 hours and 15 miles ever!
susie · san jose, CA · June 5, 2012
I loved everything about this hike! I would highly recommend it for anyone who is in somewhat good shape. It is pretty long and strenuous so I would not recommend it for children under age 12 probably.
I am a 24 year old female who hiked 4mile trail, then panorama trail, and down mist trail with my 25 year old boyfriend.
I actually wrote an entire blog post on it with lots of pictures & what to expect / bring. please check it out, I hope it can provide some helpful information for you!
and the views keep coming!
Jeremy · Salinas, CA · December 18, 2011
Oct. 2011. I started this hike after hiking up the 4 mile trail. I really loved this hike because I got to see #1: Illilouette Falls up close instead of seeing it from the Vernal Falls trail
#2: There's a beautiful river to cross (there's a bridge)
#3: Amazing views from a sheer cliff
#4: Seeing Nevada Falls
#5: Seeing Half Dome from the back side of it instead of the familiar face
#6: Hiking down to Vernal Falls instead of up to it
There's more I'm forgetting I'm sure, but this gives you some things to look forward to!
Hiking Yosemite's Panorama Trail in Reverse
Carol Bolling · San Francisco Bay Area · September 29, 2011
I started out on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 on the Mist Trail planning to hike up the Vernal and Nevada Falls (which I had done just last May with all of that beautiful gushing water) and further up to Half Dome's base -- not the cables on this trip. As I approached the fork veering left and leading up to Vernal Falls, I noticed the sign on the right: Glacier Point 7.2 miles and Half Dome 7.2 miles. Because I had been unable to hike the 4-mile trail to Glacier Point and back the previous day due to impinging darkness, I decided to take the trail fork to Glacier Point and then hike down the 4-mile trail to the Valley, hoping to arrive before pitch dark.
Little did I realize when I was hiking this trail that I was going in the opposite direction of what is recommended and what most people do. There must have been at least 40 people who passed me coming FROM Glacier Point. I alone was going TO Glacier Point.
It was a fabulous hike and will remain one of my most memorable. I was alone enjoying every sight and sound. Yes, the hiking from the valley bridge up to the Point is 3200' straight up and was tough, although the very long switchbacks mostly out of the sun were a relief. My goal was to arrive at the Glacier Point gift shop before 4 PM which I thought was its closing time. I arrived at 4:10 PM and to my delight learned that the hot-food concession was closed, but ice cream bars and beverages were available until 5. After inhaling an ice cream bar and a half-bottle of iced tea, I hiked the 4-mile (really 4.6 or 7 depending on which brochure is correct) all the way down to the Valley floor and then on to my tent at Curry Village just in time for dinner. The whole trip lasted from 9:30 AM through 7:15 PM.
I will do it again, either later this fall or in early spring of 2012. If you have to hike, do it in Yosemite. Happy Hiking!
Shawn · San Francisco · August 22, 2011
Awesome hike. It makes the 4hr+ drive from SF totally worth it. Going to Yosemite valley and missing this hike would be a crime. The waterfalls along this trail are gorgeous! Nevada is my favorite.
PS...The part where the author says "Illilouette Falls cannot be seen in its entirety from the Panorama Trail without considerable personal risk" is absolutely true. Please be careful if you choose to scoot out toward the edge. I did it, and it is beautiful, but it is very scary and really not a good idea. Maybe take a camera on a pole and look at the view when you get home for that one.
BEST hike, has it all
Tina Z · Los Angeles · July 17, 2011
Non-stop photo opps beginning at Glacier Point. Half Dome in view for miles. Yosemite Falls, Illilouette Falls, Nevada Falls, Vernal Falls take turns coming into view around every corner. Birds chirping. Fragrances filling nostrils. Lots of shade. Some elevation gain via switchbacks, break a sweat, but doesn't pound the heart. Elevation descent from Nevada Falls via John Muir is more gradual and more scenic than Mist Trail, but hooked back up with Mist Trail above Vernal Falls. Ahh, cool water (take poncho if adverse to getting soaked). Scenic from start to finish. Expect these 8.5 miles to take longer than usual.
Best Hike in Yosemite
Richard Cahill · Canyon Country, CA · July 3, 2011
I did the hike in mid-June; from Glacier Point down. It was awesome. Would like to do it again this summer. Missed the side trail to Panorama Point; I wish someone would put an innocuous marker at the turnoff. Going down the steps from Nevada and the Mist Trail below Vernal took a pounding on my leg muscles--sore the next two days. Maybe next time take John Muir from Nevada.
Best Hike in Yosemite
Scott Kershaw · Oxnard, CA · June 1, 2011
I took the Panorama Trail to Half Dome with my Daughter in mid June of last year (2010). It was suggested to us by a Ranger, because it was mostly downhill and you can avoid the crowds. The trail is about a mile longer than the John Muir trail, but I would do it again if it were 5 miles longer. We took the John Muir Trail back to the Valley. From Glacier Point to the top of Nevada Falls there is only about 1 mile or so of climbing after crossing illouete falls, and we saw a total of 3 people between Glacier Point and the top of Nevada Falls (5.2 miles). After we got to Nevada Falls, there were hordes of people.
It took us 3 hours to get to Nevada Falls, mostly because of all the photo ops and the constant stopping to soak in the inspiring views. The views were spectacular, and my Daughter was getting frustrated with me, because I kept stopping her to take picture after picture, every time we turned the corner with another breathtaking view.
Because we went in mid June, the water was gushing, which made for incredible water falls, but also very wet trails. At some points along the trail we had to make our own trail, because the actual trail had been washed away or was flooded. Also, if you have to sit down to use the restroom, I would suggest using the restrooms at Glacier Point or the Vernal Falls Bridge, because the restrooms at the top of Vernal and Nevada falls are just glorified out-houses (disgusting), and if you have a weak stomach, you will want to hold it until you get to the flushing toilets. Just a little reality check.
We are going back again this year and plan on making the loop from Galcier Point to the Valley via the Panorama Trail with my Wife, my Mother, and my Brother-in-Law. We plan to take the John Muir Trail to Clark Point, then cut over to Vernal Falls to check out Emerald Pool and the top of Vernal Falls, then back to the John Muir Trail and down to the Valley, as my Mom and Brother-in-Law are scared of heights and would rather pass on attempting the hike down the wet stone steps with a steep drop off on the right.
If you take the Panorama Trail, do not be in a hurry, because there are so many views that you would not want to miss. If you are in a hurry, fight the crowds on the John Muir trail. Also, if you are in a hurry in Yosemite in general, you need to seek professional help.
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.