If you’re looking to go hiking in Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Lower Yosemite Fall, and Vernal Fall are must-visit hikes that all offer spectacular views of nature.
Summer is the time to explore the great outdoors—so bring on all those summer road trips, camping excursions, and spontaneous hiking! One of the best places to hike in California (in my opinion) is Yosemite National Park. Filled with so many incredible hikes bursting with gorgeous scenery and thunderous waterfalls, Yosemite trails are worth exploring.
To inspire you for your summer travels, I have rounded up three must-visit hikes to do in Yosemite National Park. From hikes easy for the whole family to one for the more experienced (or adventurous!) hiker, you will absolutely love all of these spectacular scenic hikes.
So, grab your hiking boots, some water, and a good hat and sunscreen and let’s go hiking!
Bridalveil Fall is usually the first waterfall you’ll encounter when entering Yosemite Valley. This hike is one of the easiest hikes in the park with a 15 to 30-minute, one-mile roundtrip path, making it a perfect hike for anyone visiting Yosemite. Even though it’s an easier hike doesn’t mean the views are any less than the other waterfalls you can find in the park; the views at Bridalveil Fall are incredible.
Bridalveil Fall typically flows throughout the year, but the best time to visit Bridalveil Fall is during the spring (and early summer) as the winter snow begins to melt away and roars over the falls. During the rest of the year, the fall has a characteristically light, swaying flow.
Famous for the mist that wafts off of this windswept fall, Bridalveil gets its name from its resemblance to a bride’s veil. The mist creates the perfect conditions for some really cool photos as well when you’ve made it to the end of the path. Also, expect to get wet from the mist! Just be sure to watch your step as the mist can make parts of the pathway near the fall slippery; overall, though, the mist is very refreshing, especially if you’ve been hiking for a while.
Lower Yosemite Fall
Part of North America’s tallest waterfall, Lower Yosemite Fall is the final 320-foot drop of Yosemite Falls and easily the most accessible part of the falls. Yosemite Falls is so tall, it has multiple breaks to rest during its descent. This short, easy one-mile loop will take you about 30 minutes to complete but you’ll be rewarded by impressive views of the Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls. The pathway offers several vantage points of Yosemite Falls, with the most dramatic views of the fall at the beginning and end of the hiking path.
While the trail is open year-round, it’s best to visit Lower Yosemite Fall during the spring and early summer when the fall is at its peak. During this time, you can expect to get sprayed with water from Lower Yosemite Fall when standing on the footbridge near its base.
If you’re looking for a more advanced hike, Vernal Falls is a hike for you. The best time of year for seeing Vernal Fall at peak flow is late April to early May, but this waterfall tends to run almost year-round. This 5-mile hike may be strenuous for some, but it offers spectacular, up-close views of Vernal Fall with enjoyable scenery. Predominantly uphill, you will appreciate the views along the way, ending up at Vernal Fall Footbridge after the first section of the hike. Stop for a rest at the footbridge to take in the thunderous boom of the fall during the spring.
To proceed directly to the top of Vernal Fall, follow the Mist Trail up nature’s “giant staircase,” a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps (!!!). Proceed with caution as you climb up the staircase as the mist from the fall can make the steps very slippery. While climbing up the granite staircase, keep an eye out to see if you can catch a rainbow in the mist of the fall.
Once at the top of Vernal Fall, you can experience jaw-dropping views straight down the length of the 317-foot waterfall. From here, you can head back the way you came or take the longer route back with the John Muir Trail. You could also continue uphill on the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Fall.
I hope you enjoyed this list of must-visit hikes for Yosemite National Park!
Which hike of the three are you most interest in doing? Let me know in the comments below!