Glacier Point

  • Big Hikes rating: ★★★★★
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Summit: 7214 ft / 2199 m
  • Distance: 13.3 miles / 21.4 km
  • Elevation gain: 3200 ft / 975 m
  • Time: 7 – 11 hours

Unique views of Half Dome and the rest of Yosemite Valley

This hike is closed in Winter

With a stunning view over Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, Glacier Point is a popular destination and with good reason. The summit can get quiet busy with crowds – most of who have driven or taken the bus from the valley floor, but it's a rewarding hike and the smug feeling you will have from hiking it makes it that much sweeter.

I recommend talking Four Mile Trail up to Glacier Point – a steep climb from the valley floor with endless switchbacks but as the views improve your anticipation will grow and grow.

From Glacier Point take the long and scenic Parorama trail back to the valley floor. You will get a different view of Half Dome as well as great views of the valley and waterfalls including Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Starting with Four Mile Trail the trail starts off with a winding gradual paved trail in the valley floor. Gaining elevation you start to see views of valley, a taste of what is to come.

1.5 miles / 2.4 km from the top is a signpost for Union Point, a slight detour to a lookout point with some nice views of the valley. However if you're eager to get the Glacier Point I advise forgoing this and continuing to the top.

Near the top the trail levels out as you walk through woodland. Occasionally you will leave the tree line for some excellent views Half Dome - they only get better. As you approach the summit follow signs to Glacier Point, or just follow the tourists! Enjoy.

From the summit go past the visitor building and follow signs for the Panorama Trail. Starting with a gradual descent into woodland you get more stunning views of half done.

A different angle of Half Dome from Glacier Point

Arriving at the top of Illilouette Falls (370 ft / 112 m waterfall) is a great swimming spot in the summer, with smooth rocks for relaxing and cool pools for swimming with the fish. Make sure you take note of warning signs and swim where safe.

After the falls comes more uphill – but you have to work for these kinds of views! A series of switchbacks take you down to Nevada Fall and then Vernal Fall along the Mist Trail, which can get quiet busy.

Best lunch Spot: After soaking in the views at the busy summit save your lunch for a quieter spot on the Panorama trail, the views are excellent.

Highlight: Taking a cool dip at the top of Illilouette Falls (summer only)

Lunch and bathing at Illilouette Falls

Trail Map

Big Hikes Yosemite trail map or Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Point and Glacier Point
Click map for larger version

Glacier Point Trail Head

The Four Mile Trailhead is located at El Capitan shuttle stop E5 on Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley. When the El Capitan shuttle is not operating you can walk from the Valley Shuttle top 7 approximately 0.5 miles / 0.8 km away. There are some parking spaces and you can take the shuttle back to your car once you have finished.

Glacier Point Variations

With so many trails there are lots of variations to the authors recommended route:

  • If you are still feeling tired you can bypass Nevada and Vernal Falls using the shortcut to the Mist Trail
  • Hike back down Four Mile Trail for a shorter hike
  • Take the bus to Glacier Point and hike down either Four Mile Trail or Parorama Trail. Booking is required.