There may be no better way to see what’s so fabulous about Yosemite Valley than to hike the Four-Mile Trail, which climbs from the valley floor near the Swinging Bridge to the south valley rim at Glacier Point (or vice versa, or both, depending on your inclination). This hike offers great views of most of the landmarks that Yosemite Valley’s famous for, and all from angles you’re not used to seeing on postcards.
The scenery starts slowly from the bottom, since you need to climb above the timber that blankets much of the valley before the views really start to pop, but the early stretches are still pleasant, as you pass lots of moss-covered boulders and, if your timing is good, wildflowers.
A mile or so in, you’ll start to round corners and see Yosemite Falls in all of its glory.
From nearly anyplace else in the world, strategic bits of the falls are coyly hidden by trees or rock, but on the lower half of the Four-Mile Trail, you get to see everything. You’ll also see a reverse tunnel view off to the west, with Cathedral Rocks and El Capitan framing opposite sides of the view. You’ll pass almost directly under Sentinel Rock, and once you reach the trail gate (closed in the winter), about three miles (4.5 km) from the bottom, you’ll start to see remarkable views up Tenaya Canyon to Half Dome, Clouds Rest, North Dome, and the Royal Arches. You’ll also get varying views of Yosemite Falls almost all the way to the top of the trail, eventually reaching the point where you’re looking down on them.
- Near: Yosemite, CA
- Distance: 9.5 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 3200 ft
- Hike Time: 6 hours
- Difficulty: 8/10
- Trail Condition: Mostly well maintained trail
- GPX File Download: >>CLICK HERE<<
- Dog Friendly: No
- Kid Friendly: No
Getting to the trail head:
From Yosemite Village: Northside Drive to Southside Drive to Swinging Bridge Picnic Parking Lot (left) to trail head.