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.
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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.

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°