The Upper Yosemite Falls trail is our favorite hike in Yosemite National Park...so much so we considered doing it twice during our most recent trip! If you've ever done this hike you might be thinking that's a little insane. Especially in the middle of summer. But even though this is a strenuous and steep hike the effort is well worth it. You get some great views of the Yosemite Valley floor even if you only make it up to Columbia Rock and if you persist a little further you will be able to view the bottom of the Upper Falls too. But the effort really pays off if you make it to the top!
Upper Yosemite Falls Trail - Fast Facts
STARTING POINT: Camp 4
DISTANCE/TIME: 7.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,700 feet
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Very stranuous
BEST TIME TO HIKE: The best time of year for this hike is early spring to July because typically by August the falls have been reduced to a trickle.
You can also watch a video of our hike... See how freaky the view is from the top!
For this hike you want to get off the shuttle bus at the Camp 4 stop where the trail begins just behind the Camp 4 campsite. The hike starts out as switchbacks and continues like this for about a mile until you reach Columbia Rock. This stretch of the hike can be very crowded (although nowhere near as busy as the Mist Trail) however the majority of hikers will stop at Columbia Rock. This viewpoint is great to snap a few pictures of the valley floor.
Not far from Columbia Rock you will reach the bottom of Upper Yosemite Falls. The trail here flattens out and is sandy.
From the bottom of the falls you will begin to ascend again going up a number of steps but fortunately this stretch of the trail is in the shade. You will eventually reach a point on the trail which is almost right beside the falls where a lot of hikers like to take a break. It's also a good spot to cool off in high summer temperatures from the spray of the falls.
From here the hike gets really tough. It is steep, there are quite a few switchbacks and the trail is rocky. This is where you may want to give up but don't... you're halfway there.
Once you've made it to the top you will be glad you persisted. There are amazing sweeping views of the valley (even though it can be a little frightening for those who are afraid of heights like myself). You can sit right on the edge of the cliff but make sure you'careful.
To actually get up close to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls you need to keep going but not much further down some rocky steps until you reach the overlook.
Here is the view from the end of the Upper Yosemite Falls trail. You can see where the Lower Falls drops of the side of the mountain.
Before you head back down to the valley floor make sure you go and relax by the river and soak your feet in the refreshing water because it's a long hike back down!
Yosemite Travel Resources
If you're planning a longer stay in Yosemite National Park and want to get a few days of hiking into your trip we recommend getting a trail guide book/map. The information provided at the park is very limited so if you want to find out more details on trails then see our top picks below. We took our book 'Day Hikes in the Sierra's' with us which helped us choose which hikes we wanted to take on and where to find the trail heads.
GET THE GEAR!