Hike Half Dome in Yosemite National Park for the challenge of a lifetime. Half Dome, a 14 mile trek, is often listed as one of the top hikes in the world.
The round trip hike typically takes approximately 12 hours. The elevation gain of 4800 feet is arduous and suited only for people who are in good physical condition.
The scenery is truly unforgettable. Hikers are rewarded by breathtaking views of the top of Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, and Half Dome. Once you reach the summit, you’ll have panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. If you have a fear of heights, this hike is not for you.
Metal cables are installed that allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment. These cables are usually put up the end of May and are taken down in early October. Permits are required and are limited to a certain number of hikers each day. Permits are distributed by a lottery system. Click here to apply for a permit.
Hiking Tips for Half Dome Hike
- Arrive at the park the night before the hike. Leave for the trailhead at sunrise or even earlier.
Most hikers arrive at Yosemite the day before the hike. There are a variety of lodging options to choose from. You could camp under the stars, stay in a tent cabin or housekeeping campsite, or splurge and stay in a hotel. There are also a variety of places to stay just outside the park. Click Here to learn more about lodging at Yosemite National Park.
- Bring gloves (for the cables), plenty of water, a sunhat, sunglasses, snacks, a whistle, and a windbreaker. Time your return so that you are off the trail before dark, but bring a flashlight or headlamp just in case.
- Wear hiking boots that you’ve broken in.
- Check the weather forecast before you begin the hike. Cancel the hike if thunderstorms are predicted. The danger is not worth the risk. National Weather Channel – Yosemite Forecast
Directions to Hike Half Dome:
There are a variety of routes to the top of Half Dome. Most hikers begin the Half Dome hike from Happy Isle. After reaching Yosemite Valley, follow the signs toward Curry Village. Watch for signs for trailhead parking. If that lot is full, park at Curry Village.
Other Yosemite Hikes
If Half Dome is not for you, there are many less strenuous, but still spectacular hikes. With over 800 miles of trails this is a hikers’ paradise. Hike through peaceful meadows, pass waterfalls, walk through quiet forests all while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the huge granite mountains. Some Yosemite National Park hikes are just a short distance from the road, while others are remote trails through the wilderness.
- Lower Yosemite Falls – This hike is located in the Yosemite Valley. It’s an easy hike just half of a mile roundtrip from the trailhead.
- Bridalveil Fall – This hike is in the Yosemite Valley. Another easy hike that’s 1.2 miles roundtrip from the trailhead.
- The Mist Trail – This trail leads to two waterfalls. Vernal Falls is a 3 mile roundtrip hike. If you want a longer hike, continue down the trail to Nevada Falls, which is a 7 mile roundtrip hike.
- Tuolumne Grove Giant Sequoias – 2.5 mile roundtrip hike.
- Cathedral Lakes – 8 miles roundtrip if you hike to both lakes.
- Mariposa Grove Trail – Medium difficulty; 7 miles roundtrip. This is the largest Sequoia Grove in Yosemite and is located in Southern Yosemite.
- The Wawona Swinging Bridge – Easy hike, .75 mile roundtrip.
- Sentinel Dome – This 2.2 mile hike is at Glacier Point, which is 3,500 feet above Yosemite Valley. Most of the hike is easy, but the final section up to the dome is steep.
- Taft Point – 2.2 miles roundtrip. Hikers are rewarded with a dramatic view of Yosemite Valley. Those afraid of heights will want to stay away from the edge. Moderate difficulty.
- Wawona Meadow Loop – Choose either the 3.5 mile or 5 mile loop. This dog friendly hike is moderately difficult.