Hiking Half Dome

Directions and waypoints to help hikers find their way to Yosemite's renown Half Dome. This hike is 15.7 miles roundtrip.
By Staff,
Half Dome in Yosemite. Photo by Theresa Johnstone

By Backpacker Magazine

(This hike is 15.7 miles roundtrip)

TO TRAILHEAD: From Civic Center Station, take BART Fremont Rte. to Coliseum/Oakland Airport. Transfer to Amtrak to Martinez, then take San Joaquin Rte. to Merced. In Merced, take YARTS to Curry Village, then free shuttle to Happy Isles. bart.gov; amtrakcapitols.com; yarts.com.

DIRECTIONS + WAYPOINTS TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR WAY:
Point Name: HDT001: Go S from Happy Isles (4,035 ft.) along Merced River and wrap around Sierra Point; to W, see tendrils of Illilouette Falls Location: 37.73385°, -119.55801°

Point Name: HDT002: Cross footbridge; sheets of whitewater flow over Vernal Falls Location: 37.72635°, -119.55230°

Point Name: HDT003: R @ Y onto John Muir Trail (JMT) Location: 37.72643°, -119.54870°

Point Name: HDT004: Clark Point: slight views back into Yosemite Valley and S side of Half Dome. Keep R on JMT Location: 37.72500°, -119.54490°

Point Name: HDT005: Stay R on JMT; cross bridge over roaring Nevada Falls and look over to the bleached granite knob of Liberty Cap Location: 37.72248°, -119.53500°

Point Name: HDT006: Head R and cross river Location: 37.72597°, -119.53000°

Point Name: HDT007: R toward Little Yosemite Ranger Station Location: 37.73082°, -119.52257°

Point Name: HDT008: Two choices here: L @ Y on JMT for Half Dome (4+ hours). Or R to camp @ Little Yosemite Valley (permit required) for an early start and a cherry-red sunrise tomorrow Location: 37.73218°, -119.51580°

Point Name: HDT009: L @ Y to Half Dome Trail (7,020 ft.) Location: 37.74537°, -119.51302°

Point Name: HDT010: Tight switchbacks Location: 37.74832°, -119.52730°

Point Name: HDT011: Grab gloves and get in line for the cable-aided final climb over airy slabs. Warning: If thunderheads loom, abort and go back Location: 37.74655°, -119.53022°

Point Name: HDT012: Pan 360° for nonstop views from Half Dome (8,836 ft.), then backtrack to WPT 6 and turn R onto Mist Trail Location: 37.74600°, -119.53323°

Point Name: HDT013: L @ Y, staying on Mist Trail past Vernal Falls and Merced River. Rainbows likely. Close loop @ WPT 3 and retrace to Happy Isles Location: 37.72668°, -119.54160°