Brisk mountain air, lushly flowing waterfalls, stunning granite walls and extraordinary wildlife... Yosemite National Park has to be seen to be believed. And one of the best ways to see it is to hike it. It doesn’t take long on a trail to leave behind most visitors for a more quiet, contemplative experience.
This list is not comprehensive – there are 750 miles of trails with varying elevations, degrees of solitude and ecology – but they are some of the best hikes in Yosemite. These hikes range from easy, flat walks on paved surfaces to the bragging-rights-forever scramble up Half Dome with its scary but doable seasonal cables. Some hikes are quite difficult, but in general you can find trails suited to any level of ability, while not all are ADA accessible. The two most popular trails have to be the Yosemite Falls Trail — to the tallest falls in North America — and the Mist Trail, whether you turn around at the footbridge at Vernal Fall or carve out hours to do the full route to the top of Nevada Fall.
Wear hiking boots, not sneakers; some trails consist of rock slabs that become slippery with water spray. Pay attention to information you receive about bears in the park, especially if taking a remote trail or planning to camp for the night, and be aware that some access roads may be closed seasonally. Currently, you need a reservation to enter the park during high traffic hours even if not staying overnight. But above all, appreciate the bliss of being in this very special park.