Tips & Advices

The Half Dome Hike in Yosemite: Your Full Guide

Looking for the final word Yosemite day hike? Half Dome is one to your mountain climbing bucket listing and is well one of the crucial well-known in Yosemite National Park. It isn’t for novices; you’ll want good health and technical skill. However, if you’re an skilled hiker, setting your eyes on reaching the highest of Half Dome is a worthy problem.

Ready to hike as much as Half Dome? This information will inform you every part you have to know concerning the Half Dome hike. From what to anticipate alongside the way in which to a breakdown of one of the best occasions for mountain climbing Half Dome, we’ve bought you coated.

What is Half Dome?

First off, what’s Half Dome? Half Dome is an enormous granite rock formation positioned within the east of Yosemite Valley. The dome will get its title from its attribute form: a clean curve on one aspect and a sheer drop on the opposite. The rock is, fairly actually, a half dome.

Half Dome is a powerful 8,800 ft (2682 meters) above sea degree that rises 4,800 ft (1463 meters) above Yosemite Valley. The rock formation is actually an uncovered magma chamber, which grew to become seen because of the uplift and the erosion of rock above and round it. The curved aspect was formed by exfoliation – a type of weathering. The flat, vertical aspect of the rock was additionally weathered into its present form, with glaciation serving to to additional obtain the form we see at present.

Half Dome Hike History

Half Dome doesn’t simply get its fame from its seems, although; the Half Dome hike is famend as one of the crucial challenging hikes within the US. You can put mountain climbing Half Dome proper up there with Angel’s Landing in Zion NP, and all the paths that promise an adrenaline rush. Half Dome wasn’t first climbed till 1875, when George Anderson tackled the rock, drilling holes into the granite so as to add an early model of the present cable route. Nowadays, Half Dome is hottest with day hikers on a spherical journey. However, there are routes and detours appropriate for multi-day hikers as nicely.

Half Dome is a novel pure attraction and day hike in Yosemite National Park. It can also be simply one of many best places to visit in the US in case you love out of doors actions. Now that you’re extra aware of it let’s dive straight into the remainder of our information.

What to know earlier than you hike Half Dome

What You need to know about Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite

One of an important issues we’ve got discovered after tackling many difficult trails is that preparation is crucial. You don’t wish to arrive to seek out the path closed, or that it’s essential to apply for a Half Dome allow. This part will cowl the necessities – the issues it’s best to completely know earlier than mountain climbing the Half Dome path.

Yosemite National Park has strict rules.

Forget merely deciding to climb Half Dome on the final minute; simply coming into Yosemite National Park can require an excellent degree of planning. The nationwide park has frequent rules and restrictions, and you may count on park rangers to implement a few of these with fines.

In peak hours, it’s possible you’ll want a reservation to enter or drive Yosemite National Park, which you’ll want to rearrange earlier than arrival. Other restrictions may simply require a detour or two. For instance, some roads are strictly closed for upkeep, like Glacier Point Road being closed all through 2022. You can examine the official Yosemite National Park web site for highway closures or different necessary messages.

Half Dome hike is just open in sure months

Half Dome hike isn’t an all-year-round path. The Half Dome cables are usually taken down on Columbus Day in October and put again up on Memorial Day in May. If you go to after Columbus Day or earlier than Memorial Day, don’t count on to climb Half Dome. Without the cable route intact, it’s unattainable.

Getting a Half Dome allow

If you didn’t know, Half Dome has a strict permit system. Rather than making use of to obtain a Half Dome allow, you enter a lottery system to be awarded permits. You can enter the pre-season lottery or attempt your luck with a each day lottery. The each day lottery runs two days prematurely, so that you’ll have two days warning in case you get the okay to hike Half Dome. There is a cap of 300 hikers per day – we’ll cross our fingers for you.

Hikers who wish to camp additionally want wilderness permits. You can cease in a single day at Little Yosemite Valley Campground so as to add to your thrilling expertise with wilderness allow reservations.

There are totally different path choices

There isn’t only one route you could take to sort out Half Dome. While there is just one closing part (the Half Dome cables), you’ve gotten totally different path choices to decide on easy methods to get there. After Vernal Falls Bridge, the trail branches into two, and you may choose the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail to comply with.

Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail are the preferred predominant route choices. However, if you need an additional difficult hike, you may full the Half Dome Trail by way of Glacier Point or Tenaya Lake. These routes are much less trodden and extra demanding by way of stamina – simply be sure you’ve utilized to your wilderness allow so to camp.

So, which path must you select? We’ll check out that beneath.

Which path to decide on to hike Half Dome

Mist trail trailhead in Yosemite

Choosing a path not solely impacts your mountain climbing expertise however can even outline it. You’ll choose between totally different views, sights, and whether or not you full Half Dome as a single-day spherical journey or a multi-day journey. Let’s check out your choices, leaving you to choose one of the best route so that you can hike Half Dome.

The Muir Trail and Mist Trail are the 2 trails you may select between on the primary hike. The John Muir Trail is the preferred route and is 17 miles lengthy. It provides 1.5 miles to the path however passes unbelievable viewpoints of Nevada Falls and a novel angle of Half Dome. It can also be a lot much less steep than the Mist Trail – so you may choose between an additional 1.5 miles of simpler terrain or a steep, shorter route.

Slippery Stairs on Half Dome hike Yosemite

The Mist Trail is 14 miles in size and includes ascending and descending a set of moist, slippery stairs. You’ll have implausible views of Vernal Falls as you climb the steps proper beside them, getting so shut that you’re coated in waterfall spray. Still, if the concept of steep, slippery stairs is a no-go for you, we suggest selecting the Muir Trail.

Finally, you might additionally choose to hike Half Dome from Glacier Point. The 20-mile path is far much less trodden due to its demanding size and the bodily health it requires. But if you need a problem, it combines experiencing Half Dome with the attractive viewpoint at Glacier Point.

If you need extra journey…

View of Half Dome form Glacier Point

So, these are the first path choices that you simply’ll get. But what if you need extra journey? You can even sort out the Half Dome hike by way of these totally different routes, turning the Half Dome hike right into a multi-day expertise.

Tenaya Lake is a gorgeous alpine lake fashioned by glacial motion and positioned northeast of Half Dome. You can be part of mountain climbing Tenaya Lake and Half Dome into one route of 23 miles, which is finest tackled over a number of days.

Of course, it’s also possible to add an in a single day keep in Little Yosemite Valley Campground to the John Muir Trail or Mist Trail. While any in a single day keep would require wilderness permits, it’s undoubtedly price the additional effort. And this manner, you get the identical basic hike and a tenting expertise.

How to get to Half Dome trailhead

Half dome Hike Start

To hike the 2 hottest trails (the John Muir Trail and Mist Trail), you’ll begin at Yosemite Valley Trailhead Parking on the Happy Isle Loop Road. It is then a brief 0.5-mile hike from ‘Happy Isles’ Trailhead to Half Dome Trailhead – the place your stroll begins.

The best technique to attain the trailhead is to drive, and if you’re questioning the place to park, don’t fear because the trailhead car parking zone has numerous areas. The roads to Yosemite National Park are well-connected to close by cities. For occasion, driving to the trailhead from San Francisco takes slightly below 4 hours.

Another possibility is to drive to Yosemite National Park after which use the shuttle service. The nationwide park has a daily bus service that connects all of the sights and trailheads. In summer time, the East Yosemite Valley service has buses each eight to 12 minutes, and runs between 7 am and 10 pm.

Finally, you might take a guided tour of Half Dome. These excursions usually embody transfers, like this one here.

What to count on When mountain climbing Half Dome

What to expect when hiking Half Dome

What to count on when mountain climbing Half Dome is an enormous query. We’ll cowl what to anticipate when mountain climbing Half Dome on the whole, then give attention to what to anticipate mountain climbing Half Dome by way of the Muir path. Ready? Let’s get into it.

First off, count on to be mountain climbing for upwards of 9 hours no matter which path you select – this can be a actuality that sounds fairly difficult while you say it out loud. You’ll be strolling from dawn and returning within the late night in case you select a Half Dome day hike. Half Dome is under no circumstances a simple hike, and it’s best to count on to be pushed to the bounds of your bodily and psychological capability. There are extraordinarily steep and slippery elements of the path and uncovered sections the place you’ll don’t have any safety from the solar. By nature, the Half Dome hike is difficult.

Half dome Hike Challenges

However, it’s also possible to count on Half Dome to be one of the crucial rewarding hikes within the US. Along the path, you’ll discover beautiful waterfalls and serene viewpoints and face many challenges that instill a powerful sense of feat. Since you must get fortunate to bag Half Dome permits, there’s a fantastic ambiance amongst these mountain climbing Half Dome Trail. After all, a hike to Half Dome is a privilege. The supportive ambiance is what many individuals declare to be top-of-the-line issues on a stroll to Half Dome.

It’s stated that round 20-30% of hikers really flip again after they attain the cable route, which is by far the scariest little bit of the hike. By the time you attain the cable route, although, there’s normally a steadily transferring queue forming. You can depend on a number of phrases of encouragement or reassurance from different hikers. Whether you proceed slowly to sort out the final 400 ft or resolve to show round, the constructive ambiance offers a powerful sense of “we are all in this together”.

Ladders at Half Dome Hike

In phrases of services, the one flush bogs accessible are at Vernal Falls Footbridge. You will discover composting bogs close to Emerald Pool, Nevada Falls, and Little Yosemite Valley. Just bear in mind to deliver your personal rest room paper. At Vernal Falls Footbridge you may refill your water, so plan a refill cease there in your manner up and down.

So, what are you able to count on from mountain climbing the Muir Trail? Well, the route itself is easy to navigate. Starting from the car parking zone by the ‘Happy Isles’ Trailhead, it’s a leisurely stroll alongside the Happy Isle Loop Road for a few half mile. You’ll cross the Merced River over the Happy Isles Bridge, then take a proper on the fork to hitch the Muir Trail.

Half dome view from Sub Dome

Looping previous Sierra Point, you cross the Merced River for a second time over Vernal Falls Bridge, then be part of the uphill switchbacks because the path winds to climb out of the valley ground. From right here, you’ll go Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, and Little Yosemite Valley, lastly reaching the Half Dome trailhead. Before you sort out the steel cables, you’ll hike to the Sub Dome summit first – which has beautiful panoramas over Yosemite.

Summit of Half Dome Hike

You’ll then full the Half Dome cables, which is a 400-foot part of a climb on a forty five–55-degree angle. There are picket helps set at each 15 ft or so, permitting you a perch to relaxation on, and two steel cables operating both aspect of the observe so that you can help and stability your self. A by way of feratta harness is non-compulsory, though increasingly more individuals are bringing climbing tools following current accidents. After finishing the famed (and feared) cable route, you’ll attain the highest of Half Dome.

The John Muir Trail has a complete elevation achieve of 1,582 meters and is a difficult route. On common, it takes ten hours to finish the return hike. However, we suggest permitting twelve hours simply in case. It is sweet to have the ability to cease at sights like Nevada Falls alongside the way in which, and there’s a lot to admire earlier than you attain Half Dome.

What are one of the best issues to see and do on the Half Dome hike?

Things to see on Half Dome Hike

As we’ve stated above, there are many issues to see and do in your technique to summit Half Dome. Most of the pure sights on the way in which double up as distinguished factors for navigation, so that you’ll naturally get to sightsee as you navigate your technique to the summit. This part will cowl one of the best issues to see and do alongside the way in which.

Nevada Fall

The Merced River makes the Half Dome hike a captivating path, because it has many waterfalls and dramatic river scenes to admire alongside the way in which. Nevada Fall is a powerful waterfall that plunges off its granite cliff face and down into the valley beneath. Hikers get a view of the cascade on the hike to Half Dome, then cross the river simply upstream of the falls.

Vernal Fall

Vernal Fall is one other dramatic waterfall courtesy of the Merced River. The waterfall drops 317 ft off a granite cliff face and is positioned simply earlier than Nevada Fall. You can get near Vernal Fall by way of the Mist Trail, climbing up over 600 rough-cut granite steps and getting coated by the waterfall spray.

Sub Dome

In a rush to get to the highest of Half Dome, many individuals don’t understand how lovely Sub Dome might be. Sub Dome is a good taster of the ultimate climb. You can get pleasure from spectacular views over the encircling granite domes and woodland beneath.

Little Yosemite Valley

You go by Little Yosemite Valley on a sandy path, reducing by woodland and wilderness. Little Yosemite Valley is a gorgeous panorama, and it’s possible you’ll spot black bears, deer, coyotes, and even bobcats in case you’ve bought a pointy eye.

Liberty Cap

Liberty Cap is an enormous granite dome, not in contrast to Half Dome. You’ll go the dome simply after you go Nevada Fall. However, additionally, you will be capable to admire Liberty Cap from the summit of Sub Dome and Half Dome. Keep your eyes peeled as it’s a powerful pure landmark.

Olmstead Point Yosemite

Olmsted Point

Olmsted Point won’t be precisely in your route, however you may at all times add it on as a detour. The scenic lookout affords views over Half Dome and Tanaya Canyon. It is an efficient add-on if you’re tackling Half Dome on a multi-day hike because you gained’t be pushing your self for a single-day roundtrip. If you don’t have time to hike to Olmsted Point, drive again on Tioga Road so you may pull in and go to as a substitute. It is a wonderful lookout to understand the climb you’ve simply accomplished.

Clouds Rest

Clouds Rest is one other worthy add-on. Be warned that the mountain is a strenuous hike. Still, it’s price contemplating if you’re tackling Half Dome over a number of days and have a superb health degree. The views from the summit are beautiful, and it’s a nice hike to get a distinct perspective of Half Dome. Most folks mix mountain climbing up Clouds Rest and Half Dome over three to 4 days.

Glacier Point

As we coated earlier, some folks might want to begin their Half Dome hike at Glacier Point fairly than Happy Isles. While this route is loads longer, it’s beautiful, and also you’ll be rewarded with lovely panoramas. If mountain climbing 20 miles of inauspicious terrain in a day doesn’t put you off, Glacier Point is among the finest issues to see on a Half Dome hike. You’ll additionally discover Washburn Point and Glacier Point Trailside Museum alongside Glacier Point Road, the highway you drive to entry the trailhead.

Please be aware that highway enhancements have closed Glacier Point highway for all of 2022 and you may count on delays throughout 2023 till the highway upkeep is completed.

What to deliver on the Half Dome hike

What to bring on Half Dome Hike

As we’ve got stated, preparation is important. There are many hikes within the US you could present as much as in informal, on a regular basis garments and trainers and have a implausible time. However, realizing that the Half Dome hike requires dependable garments and kit is crucial. At the very least, you’ll wish to depart your worn-out runners at residence, and on the most, it’s possible you’ll even wish to deliver climbing tools like a harness. This part will cowl all one of the best issues to deliver on a Half Dome hike.

To begin with, you’ll have to resolve if you’re planning a backpacking journey or a strenuous day hike. If you intend a multi-day backpacking journey, you’ll have to pack extra meals and water provides, plus your whole tenting gear. Little Yosemite Valley Campground permits you to depart your tent and non-valuables on the campsite when you hike the ultimate stretch of the Half Dome path.

This is nice information as you gained’t should sort out the Half Dome cables with a tent in your backpack. With this in thoughts, although, it’s best to restrict the property you deliver so to safely depart issues in your tent. You may also want a bear field to retailer meals safely while you’re away.

You ought to at all times carry loads of water, rest room paper, sunscreen, bear spray, and a Half Dome Trail map for the reason that cellphone sign could be sketchy. Half Dome hikers tackling the spherical journey in a day might require much less meals and water, however it’s smart to hold a little bit greater than you assume you’ll want. A couple of sugary snacks could be nice for supplying you with that wanted enhance alongside the trickiest elements of the path.

Half dome hiking gear

You might wish to deliver a primary first support equipment and a Via Ferrata climbing harness. A primary support equipment by no means goes amiss, and so long as it isn’t too cumbersome to slot in your backpack, it may be useful in minor accidents. The Via Ferrata climbing harness might be useful if you wish to strap your self in for further safety on the Half Dome cables. The Half Dome cables aren’t designed to be tackled as a Via Ferrata route. In reality, the poles can sometimes come unfastened – so climbing strapped to the cables isn’t risk-free. However, it does present some further safety and peace of thoughts. You might want to take the additional precaution you probably have a worry of heights or whether it is actually crowded.

Last however not least, what garments must you deliver and put on? Sturdy footwear with good grip goes with out saying. The slick rock on the Half Domes cables part is polished and slippery, so in case you add footwear with a nasty grip into the combo, it’s a catastrophe ready to occur. The stairway part by Vernal Fall additionally requires good grip because it will get slippery with waterfall spray. Similarly, descending the sandy space close to Little Yosemite Valley requires good ankle help when navigating your manner down the trail feeling drained and weak.

Half dome hike Trail Map

A peaked hat is one other agency advice. Much of the path is uncovered to the weather, particularly on the ultimate climb up the Half Dome cables. The last item you need is to be battling heatstroke and sunburn when you’re already on essentially the most difficult part of the climb. You’ll additionally recognize a thick pair of gloves with an excellent grip for the Half Dome cables part.

As the rock is slippery on this part, you’ll closely depend on higher physique energy to help your self by holding the steel cables. Gloves will assist forestall blisters and make the duty a lot simpler for you. Also, when you’re completed, take into consideration giving your gloves to a different climber. That manner you don’t have to hold them down or depart them there.

Finally, you’ll want all the usual mountain climbing fundamentals. Make certain to deliver layers (together with a water-proof, windproof coat) and comfy, well-fitting garments.

Best time to hike to Half Dome

Best time to Hike Half Dome

The indisputable fact that the Half Dome cables are solely accessible from Memorial Day to Columbus Day already narrows down one of the best time to hike Half Dome. If you wish to sort out the hike, you’ll have to get a Half Dome allow to assist you to go to between May and October.

Typically, September is the quietest time to climb Half Dome. Day hikers ought to set off as early as potential to maximise their daytime because you get fewer daytime in September than within the top of summer time. You can at all times e book lodging in Curry Village, only a fifteen-minute stroll from the ‘Happy Isles’ trailhead. It is a good close by place to remain, so you can begin your hike good and early.

Hiking Half Dome in September

In September, you’ll get pleasure from fewer crowds, and the temperatures must be cooler, making climbing extra pleasant. You ought to discover that campsites have more room too, and who is aware of, perhaps you’ll get luckier within the allow lottery if there are fewer entries.

If you’re eager on climbing the steps with as few folks as potential then plan to reach round 8 am to the cables. If you get there between 11 am and 12 pm you may assure it is going to be packed and also you may need to attend in line simply to do the ultimate part.

Important Note: You’ll wish to keep away from mountain climbing Half Dome if there are storms or heavy rain forecasted. Weather circumstances can flip the path extraordinarily harmful. If a storm seems close by, one of the best factor you are able to do is flip round or take shelter in a constructing like a rest room block if potential.

Half Dome permits could be thrilling to win, however it’s by no means price persevering with on a high-risk path when you may simply re-enter the lottery. Heavy rain could make the path completely inaccessible, so the mountain climbing season for Half Dome coincides with the driest months.

How tough is the Half Dome hike?

Half dome Hike Difficulty

In quick, the Half Dome hike is tough. The mileage and elevation achieve are each substantial, and the difficult sections have actual dangers. More than twenty folks have died tackling the Half Dome path, and over forty folks have died on the routes used to entry the ultimate part. The dangers are actual, and you have to be energetic when prioritizing your security. Successful Half Dome hikers are courageous however undoubtedly not silly.

The path lengths fluctuate from 14.2 miles to 23 miles, so that you’ll want to decide on the path that most accurately fits you and your health expertise. In principle, you might sort out the Half Dome hike with out coaching. Still, you’d should be in any other case match and wholesome with an excellent baseline degree of health. You’ll be extra profitable in case you do some coaching main as much as the hike.

Plus, mountain climbing while you’re exhausted raises the probability of slipping and having an accident, so that you’ll be capable to hike stronger and safer in case your health ranges are larger.

If you’re uncertain whether or not you’re bodily match sufficient to finish a spherical journey in a single day, simply apply for a wilderness allow. This manner, you may camp at Little Yosemite Valley Campground and break up the space over two days.

To Conclude

Yosemite Half dome Hike

Half Dome hike is well one of many US’s hottest mountain climbing trails – holding a primary spot on many individuals’s bucket lists. It could also be difficult, however it’s the excellent instance of how ‘nothing good in life comes easy. The enormous grey dome is a much-loved and respected landmark in Yosemite and is well worth tackling if you can.

Just remember, there is no shame in getting to the cables and turning around. If you don’t really feel assured then don’t put your self or others at risk. The views as much as that time are greater than sufficient cause to sort out this hike.

Feeling impressed? You might wish to take a look at a few of our different favorite hikes in California or the United States as a complete. Of course, there are additionally many alternative things to do in Yosemite National Park. You will most likely wish to dedicate a big chunk of time to discover the encircling space when you’ve accomplished Half Dome. A visit to any vacation spot within the nationwide park might be memorable, and we hope you’ve gotten an inspiring and profitable journey.

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