Hiking up the Half Dome is a dream come true for many. Half dome hike is located in Yosemite Valley, and Half-Dome is a coveted hiking haven covering 17 miles. It’s a scenic hike and can be regarded as the most iconic attraction in Yosemite. While hiking through the Dome, you will pass through several attractions, including Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, and the Half Dome’s steep granite Domes. Trail finding can be a difficult job, so be sure to bring a map on your way in.
What do you need for the trail?
Climbing the Dome is a gruesome task of climbing 400 feet of steep granite walls. Imagine climbing up a walkway of planks and cable handrails; you will need nitrile-dipped gloves to hold the fiber-steel cables. You will need good walk wear, preferably broken-in boots. Newer boots may prove uncomfortable or cause blisters and ankle injuries.
Other equipment you’ll require include:
For your half dome hike, you have to get these pieces of equipment with you for sure!
- Sleeping pads
- Sleeping bags
- A backpack
- Trekking poles
- A guidebook
- LED headlamp equipped with batteries
- Fleece clothes
- Waterproof wear
- Winter hats
- Hat or ballcap
- Quick-drying underwear
- Insect repellent
- Power bank
- First-aid kit
Beware of the black bears in Yosemite; they will take your backpacks if you aren’t careful.
How Do You Get to Half Dome Hike?
You have to sort out your Half Dome hiker permit before you even plan your trip. The ticket is compulsory every day of the week if you want to go through the cable section of the trail. The permits are awarded through a lottery, and only 300 people are allowed to walk the path each day. You can apply for the lottery from the 1st to the 31st of March, which will enable you to do the Half Dome hike during the following summer. The application will cost $10.
There is an option of getting a permit from the daily lottery, although the chances here are slimmer because there are about 50 permits daily due to cancellations.
The Mist Trail
The Mist Trail is a scenic route about 3miles long and covers a round trip to Nevada Fall. You will reach an elevation of around 4000ft in two to five hours. You will begin your half dome hike at Happy Isles and go past the Vernal Fall and Emerald Pool to Nevada Fall.
This trail is usually available throughout the autumn season and closed during the winter, probably because of the slippery footing. The track gives hikers a chance at a scenic view of the glorious Merced River, a mountain stream that runs through a U-shaped valley. Hikers will get to experience gigantic granite-covered boulders.
Valley Loop Trail
The Ahwahnechee are native to Yosemite, as they made the trails. They used the pathways for their day-to-day workings; moving from village to village for hunting and transportation with wagons. Although hiking through this trail takes you through meadows, you will also walk along the Merced River or close to the road.
This trail is relatively flat. You will see wildlife, waterfalls, and the other main attractions of the domes as you walk through. For this trail, you’ll have to start from Half Dome Village. As you make your way through the trails to Yosemite Lodge, you will experience amazing views of Half Dome, North Dome, Glacier Point, and the Royal Arches. From the Yosemite Lodge, you will see Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and finally the Half Dome.
The Valley Loop has an alternative trail from the West side of the valley. Hiking through it will give you views of several attractions such as the El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks.
Options to Get to Half Dome Hike
You can take three trail options to get to the Half Dome hike on the Valley Loop Trail.
The first one starts at Lower Yosemite Falls and ends in El Capitan. This route will take you from Yosemite Valley Lodge towards the Yosemite Falls, then onto the footbridge, and back to the Lodge. This path will give you a great view of the Lodge.
The second mini trail starts at the Lodge, near the Lower Falls viewing area. From there you can follow the valley loop trail signs on your way to El Capitan. Head towards Camp, then go through El Capitan Meadow. This is meadow is very impressive and considered to be the largest in the world. Finally, walk over the footbridge in a southerly direction back to Yosemite Village.
The third trail goes through the Lower Falls to Camp 4 through Pohono Bridge, while passing by Bridalveil Falls, Cathedral Rocks, and Taft Point and Fissures. The Swinging Bridge is East of Taft Point. After crossing the bridge you will find another bridge named Sentital Bridge that takes you back towards Yosemite Village.
Four Mile Trail
This is a 5-mile walk that begins just below Sentinel Rock near Glacier Point. At Glacier Point, you will find restrooms, a summer snack stand, and parking space.
An alternative route is going through the Panorama Trail towards the Happy Isles Trailhead. Remember to make plans for an alternative means of transport if you just plan to do the Half Dome hike one way. You can take a scenic trip by bus trip to Yosemite Valley Lodge by purchasing a bus ticket beforehand from any of Yosemite’s tour desks. This trail is mainly closed and is only open for a few weeks in May.
Snow Creek Trail
The Snow Creek Trail is 9.4 miles long and takes roughly seven hours to finish. This trail is the most strenuous of the trails because you begin at the bottom of the valley then work your way up a steep journey towards its peak. What makes this journey even more strenuous is that it is more narrow than the other trails.
You’ll start at the Mirror Lake Trail near the Snow Creek Trail. From here you can start to enjoy the climb out of Tenaya Canyon. This route will give you a view of the fantastic half and quarter domes and Clouds rest. If you aren’t ready for the brutal 2700ft climb to the footbridge, turn back from the trail junction adjacent to the Snow Creek.
Our equipment list and better ideas of routes to do the half dome hike will make your hiking more accessible and convenient. Yosemite national park is well known for the half dome hike and the various enchanting scenic views.