Yosemite National Park is one of the most stunning places in America. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most visited parks, which means you won’t be alone, especially in Yosemite Valley. That’s the one negative side-effect of the National Parks system. It’s. So. Freaking. Busy. These three Yosemite Valley hikes will help you beat the crowds and find a little peace and quiet in nature.
Outside of these hikes, you’d ideally want to visit Tuolumne Meadows to truly get the Yosemite wonder without crowds. But if you do want to adventure and complete Yosemite day hikes, Eagle Peak, Four Mile Trail, and Vernal Falls via the JMT are the ones to do. Furthermore, starting early for sunrise or later for sunset will ensure there are fewer people on the trail.
Yosemite Valley Hikes
Yosemite Day Hikes – Eagle Peak
To get to Eagle Peak, you’ll have to survive one of the busiest trails in the valley – Yosemite Falls. But, after the 3.5 miles up the falls, wave goodbye to the crowds and keep trekking on. You’ll see a tenth of the number of people up here as you get closer and closer to Eagle Peak and El Capitan. It’s a wonderful hike past the falls, and your mind will be blown once at the top!
Distance: 14 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,000 ft., according to All Trails (I didn’t think it was this much.)
Yosemite Day Hikes – Vernal Falls via the JMT
This may be a contentious submission, as you’re not avoiding that many people, but taking the JMT and avoiding the second half of the Mist Trail will cut the crowds by half. Once you cross the first bridge, you’re nearly at the detour spot (also the winter route, FYI). The Mist Trail will continue straight, while the JMT will take you out to the right. What makes this trail so great is that it’s less crowded, but it gives you a great view of Nevada Falls as you close in on it further.
The most challenging section of this is the near mile of switchbacks you take as you get closer to Clark Point. Take a moment to enjoy the views before gearing up for the final mile that’s relatively flat and easy to traverse. Once you’re at Nevada Falls, enjoy the stunning views and the roar of the falls below. I should note that you do not want to go in the water anywhere near the falls. You could get sucked in, and that’s certain death going over the edge.
Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,200
Yosemite Valley Hikes – Four Mile Trail
“Started from the bottom. Now we’re here.” Starting from the Four-Mile Trailhead (next to Swinging Bridge and Sentinel Beach), climb countless switchbacks as you rise above the Yosemite Valley floor towards Glacier Point. It’s a fantastic hike that gives you surreal views of the Yosemite Valley floor and Half Dome and Yosemite Village. It’s a strenuous hike but it also seemed to go by much faster than I presumed. You’ll want to plan at least a six-hour day for this hike.
I hiked it in early winter, which meant that the four miles up were the only way to get to Glacier Point. When the road is open, this hike will be less crowded as more people will choose to drive up.
Distance: 9.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,600
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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