Panoramic view from Upper Yosemite Falls Trial, with Yosemite Falls in the background
Stephen Moehle/

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Updated by Dianne Titos on December 7 2023

One of the oldest and most famous trails in Yosemite National Park, Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is a strenuous route for the more experienced hiker. This trail will reward you with breath taking views of Yosemite Valley, the Sierra Nevada, and the highest waterfall in the park, Yosemite Falls. It's a full-day hike that offers a sense of accomplishment on reaching the top.

An overview of the distance and difficulty hiking Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
🚶‍♀️ Distance7 miles
⏱️ Time6 hours
💪 DifficultyAdvanced
🏔️ Elevation GainUp to 3,255 feet

Where can I find Upper Yosemite Falls Trail within Yosemite National Park?

Upper Falls Trail is accessible from both the South Entrance and Arch Rock Entrance, with the later the most popular entrance to use.

After entering the park here, you'll drive on El Portal Road, Southside Drive, and then Northside Drive in a journey covering just 12 miles. A designated parking lot on Northside Drive ready to start your hike.

What makes this hike so special?

The Upper Yosemite Falls Trail leads you to the top of one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. As you climb you'll see views of Yosemite Valley, along with Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and, of course, the Yosemite Falls itself.

[th]Feature[/th][th]Our rating[/th]
How we rate the different aspects of Upper Yosemite Falls Trail Hike
Natural beauty and scenery⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wildlife spotting⭐⭐⭐
Peace and quiet⭐⭐⭐
The river and wooden bridge at the top of the trail on a sunny day
The challenging hike along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is certainly worth it for incredible views.
Kit Leong/

What are the highlights of hiking Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

Set aside a day to take on Upper Yosemite Falls Trail and you'll be rewarded with some amazing sites and iconic landmarks. Here are some of the most amazing natural wonders you can expect to see during your hike.

  1. Columbia Rock - Columbia Rock is a destination on its own, with views across Yosemite Valley, however it also marks a significant point on the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, which some use as a marker before descending​.
  2. Half Dome - The iconic Half Dome not only presents a challenging hike but is a unique part of geological history.​
  3. Sentinel Rock - Sentinel Rock offers climbers a challenging ascent, and is an impressive sight opposite Yosemite Falls​.
  4. Yosemite Valley - At a 4,000-foot floor elevation, Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley known for its incredible natural beauty and is the centerpiece of the park, surrounded by high granite summits​
  5. Yosemite Falls - As the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls is stunning, with the highest volume of water flow in the late spring from the snow melting​.

When is the best time of year to visit Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail promises to be a memorable hike regardless of when you choose to visit. However, with this day-long hike more challenging than others in Yosemite Valley, you'll want to consider a time that aids your hiking and provides some of the best views.

When is the best time to visit Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
Spring🌷 Spring is considered the best time to take on Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, when the Falls are in full flow after snowmelt.
Summer☀️In summer, because of the dry conditions causing low water levels, there may only be a trickle at Yosemite Falls.
Fall🍂 Fall enhances the already spectacular views of Yosemite Valley and the Upper Falls
Winter❄️ In winter the trail can be icy and more dangerous, so extra caution needed during this hike.

Common questions about hiking Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Visiting the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail offers plenty of iconic, historical, sites, including views of North America's tallest waterfall. This hike is also a physical challenge, so if you are planning to hike Upper Yosemite Falls Trail then keep reading to see what is available during your visit.

Is Upper Yosemite Falls Trail easily accessible for those with mobility issues?

❗ No, Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is steep and strenuous and requires good physical fitness and not recommended for those with lower mobility.

Are there restrooms along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

❌ No, there are no restrooms along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. The nearest facilities are located at the trailhead in Camp 4​.

Are there refreshments and water stations along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

⭕ Yes, you can purchase refreshments close to Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. In Yosemite Valley Northside Drive has a coffee shop, The Mountain Room restaurant and Base Camp Eatery.

❗ Make sure to bring plenty of water! This is a demanding trail, and there is a drinking fountain near the trailhead at Camp 4 to fill bottles.

Are dogs allowed along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

❌ No, dogs are not allowed along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.

Are vehicles allowed along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

❌ No, cars, electric scooters, and ATVs are not allowed on Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.

Can you camp overnight along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail (or nearby)?

⭕ Yes, you can camp overnight close to Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.

❗ However if you plan to camp overnight, a wilderness permit is mandatory. You can get this permit from the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center.

Is there anything else to watch out for when I hike Upper Yosemite Falls Trail?

Start early as this will help avoid crowds, and the lack of shade makes it very hot during summer at midday.

The terrain is rocky with loose gravel. You'll need to wear appropriate footwear to avoid injury, and make sure to stay on the trail as there are steep and dangerous drops.

View from top of Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, waterfalls cascading down with view of forests and valley below
Hike to the summit of Upper Yosemite Falls Trail and the views are sure to be memorable.
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