Hiking Trails

Top 7 Yosemite Hikes with a View

Make it a bucket-list day with these scenery-packed treks.

1. Pohono Trail

View from Pohono Trail in Yosemite

Enjoy nonstop panoramas and a hearty workout on this 13-mile (one-way) trek between Glacier Point and Tunnel View on Wawona Road. Take in vistas of Taft, Dewey, Crocker, and Stanford Points along the way. Hike down to your shuttle car at Tunnel View parking lot to avoid climbing the 3,700 feet back up (Pohono Trailhead at Glacier Point parking lot; no shuttle stop).

2. Taft Point and the Fissures

See El Capitan from Taft Point in Yosemite
See El Capitan from Taft PointGrant Ordelheide

Reach Taft Point by strolling just over 1 mile through forest and wildflower-filled meadows. This viewpoint on the south rim of Yosemite Valley rivals that from Glacier Point, but is much less crowded. Marvel (and step carefully) at the Fissures. These deep cracks along the trail cut into cliff tops, and a few drop all the way to the Valley floor (Sentinel Dome Trailhead on Glacier Point Road; no shuttle stop).

3. North Dome

North Dome hiker at sunset in Yosemite
North Dome hiker at sunset in Yosemite. Grant Ordelheide

Hike just over 5 miles (one-way) to the top of this Yosemite icon. From the bald summit, soak up expansive views of Yosemite Valley and the sheer face of Half Dome. Take a quarter-mile detour to Indian Rock, the park’s only known rock arch (Porcupine Creek trailhead on Tioga Road; no shuttle stop).

4. Yosemite Creek to Valley Floor

Upper Yosemite Falls with a Moonbow
Upper Yosemite Falls with a MoonbowGrant Ordelheide

See breathtaking views of Yosemite Falls and stand right at the brink of the cascade, but spare yourself the 2,700-foot climb by hiking down Yosemite Creek drainage. It’s a steep, 9.4- to 10-mile one-way descent from Tioga Road or Yosemite Creek Campground to the Valley floor. (Start: Lukens Lake trailhead on Tioga Road or Yosemite Creek Campground off Tioga Road; no shuttle stops. End: Camp 4; shuttle stop 7.)

5. Valley Floor Loop Trail

Family watching the falls in Yosemite Valley. Photo by Joseph Fabian
Family watching the falls in Yosemite Valley. Joseph Fabian

This mostly level, 6- or 13-mile loop is, surprisingly, one of the least-traveled trails in the Valley. Enjoy terrific views of El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the Merced River. Have your choice of picnic spots along several tranquil meadows (Lower Yosemite Fall trailhead; shuttle stop 6 or various points along the Valley floor).

6. May Lake and Mount Hoffman

May Lake with Mount Hoffmann Reflection
May Lake with Mount Hoffmann ReflectionPublic Domain

A great summer hike to do with kids, the trail to May Lake is a bit more than 1 mile (one-way), and you can stop at May Lake High Sierra Camp for lemonade. Then picnic at the lake and enjoy the view. More ambitious peakbaggers can press on another 2 miles and climb 2,000 feet to the summit of Mt. Hoffman. The 10,850-foot summit offers bird’s-eye views of High Sierra peaks (May Lake Trailhead parking area off Tioga Road).

7. Clouds Rest

A hiker on the catwalk at Clouds Rest in Yosemite
Flickr/Miguel Vieira

An appealing alternative to Half Dome, this steep, 14-mile round-trip hike from Tenaya Lake climbs 1,800 feet (3,000 feet less than the Half Dome trail), but the 9,926-foot summit is 1,000 feet higher than Half Dome’s summit. While views match or exceed those from Half Dome, they come with fewer crowds and no cables to climb (Sunrise Lakes trailhead on Tioga Road at west end of Tenaya Lake).