The Half Dome Hike in Yosemite: Your Full Information


On the lookout for the final word Yosemite day hike? Half Dome is one in your climbing bucket checklist and is well some of the well-known in Yosemite Nationwide Park. It’s not for learners; you’ll want good health and technical capability. Nonetheless, in case you are an skilled hiker, setting your eyes on reaching the highest of Half Dome is a worthy problem.

Able to hike as much as Half Dome? This information will inform you the whole lot it’s worthwhile to know in regards to the Half Dome hike. From what to anticipate alongside the way in which to a breakdown of the most effective instances for climbing Half Dome, we’ve received you coated.

What’s Half Dome?

Half dome Hike Guide in Yosemite

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 facet and a sheer drop on the opposite. The rock is, fairly actually, a half dome.

Half Dome is a formidable 8,800 toes (2682 meters) above sea degree that rises 4,800 toes (1463 meters) above Yosemite Valley. The rock formation is basically an uncovered magma chamber, which turned seen as a result of uplift and the erosion of rock above and round it. The curved facet was formed by exfoliation – a type of weathering. The flat, vertical facet 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 to be, although; the Half Dome hike is famend as some of the difficult hikes within the US. You’ll be able to put climbing Half Dome proper up there with Angel’s Touchdown 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. These days, Half Dome is hottest with day hikers on a spherical journey. Nonetheless, there are routes and detours appropriate for multi-day hikers as nicely.

Half Dome is a novel pure attraction and day hike in Yosemite Nationwide Park. Additionally it is simply one of many greatest locations to go to within the US when you love out of doors actions. Now that you’re extra accustomed to 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

Some of the essential issues now we have realized after tackling many difficult trails is that preparation is vital. You don’t need to arrive to search out the path closed, or that you could apply for a Half Dome allow. This part will cowl the necessities – the issues you must completely know earlier than climbing the Half Dome path.

Yosemite Nationwide Park has strict laws.

Overlook merely deciding to climb Half Dome on the final minute; simply coming into Yosemite Nationwide Park can require a great degree of planning. The nationwide park has frequent laws and restrictions, and you may anticipate park rangers to implement a few of these with fines.

In peak hours, you might want a reservation to enter or drive Yosemite Nationwide Park, which you’ll want to rearrange earlier than arrival. Different restrictions would possibly simply require a detour or two. For instance, some roads are strictly closed for upkeep, like Glacier Level Street being closed all through 2022. You’ll be able to examine the official Yosemite Nationwide Park web site for street closures or different essential messages.

Half Dome hike is just open in sure months

Half Dome hike shouldn’t be 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 Might. If you happen to go to after Columbus Day or earlier than Memorial Day, don’t anticipate to climb Half Dome. With out the cable route intact, it’s inconceivable.

Getting a Half Dome allow

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

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

There are completely different path choices

There isn’t only one route which you could take to sort out Half Dome. Whereas there is just one last part (the Half Dome cables), you have got completely different path choices to decide on get there. After Vernal Falls Bridge, the trail branches into two, and you may decide the Mist Path or John Muir Path to observe.

Mist Path and the John Muir Path are the most well-liked primary route choices. Nonetheless, in order for you an additional difficult hike, you possibly can full the Half Dome Path through Glacier Level or Tenaya Lake. These routes are much less trodden and extra demanding when it comes to stamina – simply ensure you’ve utilized in your wilderness allow as a way to camp.

So, which path do you have to select? We’ll check out that beneath.

Which path to decide on to hike Half Dome

Mist trail trailhead in Yosemite

Selecting a path not solely impacts your climbing expertise however also can outline it. You’ll decide between completely different views, points of interest, 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 select the most effective route so that you can hike Half Dome.

The Muir Path and Mist Path are the 2 trails you possibly can select between on the primary hike. The John Muir Path is the most well-liked 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. Additionally it is a lot much less steep than the Mist Path – so you possibly can decide between an additional 1.5 miles of simpler terrain or a steep, shorter route.

Slippery Stairs on Half Dome hike Yosemite

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

Lastly, you may additionally decide to hike Half Dome from Glacier Level. The 20-mile path is way much less trodden due to its demanding size and the bodily health it requires. However in order for you a problem, it combines experiencing Half Dome with the attractive viewpoint at Glacier Level.

If you would like extra journey…

View of Half Dome form Glacier Point

So, these are the first path choices that you just’ll get. However what in order for you extra journey? You may also sort out the Half Dome hike through these completely different routes, turning the Half Dome hike right into a multi-day expertise.

Tenaya Lake is a stupendous alpine lake fashioned by glacial motion and positioned northeast of Half Dome. You’ll be able to be part of climbing Tenaya Lake and Half Dome into one route of 23 miles, which is greatest tackled over a number of days.

In fact, you can too add an in a single day keep in Little Yosemite Valley Campground to the John Muir Path or Mist Path. Whereas any in a single day keep would require wilderness permits, it’s undoubtedly value the additional effort. And this fashion, you get the identical basic hike and a tenting expertise.

The way to get to Half Dome trailhead

Half dome Hike Start

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

The best technique to attain the trailhead is to drive, and in case you are questioning the place to park, don’t fear because the trailhead parking zone has a lot of areas. The roads to Yosemite Nationwide Park are well-connected to close by cities. As an illustration, driving to the trailhead from San Francisco takes just below 4 hours.

An alternative choice is to drive to Yosemite Nationwide Park after which use the shuttle service. The nationwide park has a daily bus service that connects all of the points of interest 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.

Lastly, you may take a guided tour of Half Dome. These excursions usually embody transfers, like this one right here.

What to anticipate When climbing Half Dome

What to expect when hiking Half Dome

What to anticipate when climbing Half Dome is an enormous query. We’ll cowl what to anticipate when climbing Half Dome basically, then give attention to what to anticipate climbing Half Dome through the Muir path. Prepared? Let’s get into it.

First off, anticipate to be climbing for upwards of 9 hours no matter which path you select – this can be a actuality that sounds fairly difficult if you say it out loud. You’ll be strolling from dawn and returning within the late night when you select a Half Dome day hike. Half Dome is certainly not a simple hike, and you must anticipate to be pushed to the boundaries of your bodily and psychological capability. There are extraordinarily steep and slippery components of the path and uncovered sections the place you’ll haven’t any safety from the solar. By nature, the Half Dome hike is difficult.

Half dome Hike Challenges

Nonetheless, you can too anticipate Half Dome to be some of the rewarding hikes within the US. Alongside the path, you’ll discover gorgeous waterfalls and serene viewpoints and face many challenges that instill a powerful sense of accomplishment. Since it’s a must to get fortunate to bag Half Dome permits, there’s an excellent environment amongst these climbing Half Dome Path. In any case, a hike to Half Dome is a privilege. The supportive environment is what many individuals declare to be among the best issues on a stroll to Half Dome.

It’s mentioned that round 20-30% of hikers truly flip again once they attain the cable route, which is by far the scariest little bit of the hike. By the point you attain the cable route, although, there’s often a steadily transferring queue forming. You’ll be able to depend on just a few phrases of encouragement or reassurance from different hikers. Whether or not you proceed slowly to sort out the final 400 toes or determine to show round, the optimistic environment provides a powerful sense of “we’re all on this collectively”.

Ladders at Half Dome Hike

When it comes to amenities, the one flush bathrooms accessible are at Vernal Falls Footbridge. You will discover composting bathrooms close to Emerald Pool, Nevada Falls, and Little Yosemite Valley. Simply bear in mind to deliver your individual bathroom paper. At Vernal Falls Footbridge you possibly can replenish your water, so plan a refill cease there in your manner up and down.

So, what are you able to anticipate from climbing the Muir Path? Nicely, the route itself is simple to navigate. Ranging from the parking zone by the ‘Completely happy Isles’ Trailhead, it’s a leisurely stroll alongside the Completely happy Isle Loop Street for a few half mile. You’ll cross the Merced River over the Completely happy Isles Bridge, then take a proper on the fork to hitch the Muir Path.

Half dome view from Sub Dome

Looping previous Sierra Level, 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 cross Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, and Little Yosemite Valley, lastly reaching the Half Dome trailhead. Earlier than you sort out the steel cables, you’ll hike to the Sub Dome summit first – which has gorgeous 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 wood helps set at each 15 toes or so, permitting you a perch to relaxation on, and two steel cables working both facet of the monitor so that you can assist and steadiness your self. A through feratta harness is optionally available, 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 Path 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. Nonetheless, we suggest permitting twelve hours simply in case. It’s good to have the ability to cease at points of interest like Nevada Falls alongside the way in which, and there’s a lot to admire earlier than you attain Half Dome.

What are the most effective issues to see and do on the Half Dome hike?

Things to see on Half Dome Hike

As we’ve mentioned above, there are many issues to see and do in your technique to summit Half Dome. A lot of the pure points of interest on the way in which double up as outstanding factors for navigation, so that you’ll naturally get to sightsee as you navigate your technique to the summit. This part will cowl the most effective issues to see and do alongside the way in which.

Nevada Fall

The Merced River makes the Half Dome hike an interesting path, because it has many waterfalls and dramatic river scenes to admire alongside the way in which. Nevada Fall is a formidable 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 toes off a granite cliff face and is positioned simply earlier than Nevada Fall. You will get near Vernal Fall through the Mist Path, 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 shall be. Sub Dome is a good taster of the ultimate climb. You’ll be able to take pleasure in spectacular views over the encircling granite domes and woodland beneath.

Little Yosemite Valley

You cross via Little Yosemite Valley on a sandy path, reducing via woodland and wilderness. Little Yosemite Valley is a stupendous panorama, and you might spot black bears, deer, coyotes, and even bobcats when you’ve received a pointy eye.

Liberty Cap

Liberty Cap is an enormous granite dome, not in contrast to Half Dome. You’ll cross the dome simply after you cross Nevada Fall. Nonetheless, additionally, you will have the ability to admire Liberty Cap from the summit of Sub Dome and Half Dome. Hold your eyes peeled as it’s a formidable pure landmark.

Olmstead Point Yosemite

Olmsted Level

Olmsted Level won’t be precisely in your route, however you possibly can at all times add it on as a detour. The scenic lookout provides views over Half Dome and Tanaya Canyon. It’s a good add-on in case you are tackling Half Dome on a multi-day hike because you gained’t be pushing your self for a single-day roundtrip. If you happen to don’t have time to hike to Olmsted Level, drive again on Tioga Street so you possibly can pull in and go to as a substitute. It is a superb lookout to understand the climb you’ve simply accomplished.

Clouds Relaxation

Clouds Relaxation is one other worthy add-on. Be warned that the mountain is a strenuous hike. Nonetheless, it’s value contemplating in case you are tackling Half Dome over a number of days and have a wonderful health degree. The views from the summit are gorgeous, and it’s a nice hike to get a unique perspective of Half Dome. Most individuals mix climbing up Clouds Relaxation and Half Dome over three to 4 days.

Glacier Level

As we coated earlier, some individuals could want to begin their Half Dome hike at Glacier Level somewhat than Completely happy Isles. Whereas this route is rather a lot longer, it’s gorgeous, and also you’ll be rewarded with lovely panoramas. If climbing 20 miles of inauspicious terrain in a day doesn’t put you off, Glacier Level is without doubt one of the greatest issues to see on a Half Dome hike. You’ll additionally discover Washburn Level and Glacier Level Trailside Museum alongside Glacier Level Street, the street you drive to entry the trailhead.

Please notice that street enhancements have closed Glacier Level street for all of 2022 and you may anticipate delays throughout 2023 till the street upkeep is completed.

What to deliver on the Half Dome hike

What to bring on Half Dome Hike

As now we have mentioned, preparation is important. There are a lot of hikes within the US which you could present as much as in informal, on a regular basis garments and trainers and have a improbable time. Nonetheless, understanding that the Half Dome hike requires dependable garments and kit is important. On the very least, you’ll need to depart your worn-out runners at residence, and on the most, you might even need to deliver climbing tools like a harness. This part will cowl all the most effective issues to deliver on a Half Dome hike.

To begin with, you’ll must determine in case you are planning a backpacking journey or a strenuous day hike. If you happen to plan a multi-day backpacking journey, you’ll must pack extra meals and water provides, plus all your 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.

That is excellent news as you gained’t must sort out the Half Dome cables with a tent in your backpack. With this in thoughts, although, you must restrict the property you deliver as a way to safely depart issues in your tent. Additionally, you will want a bear field to retailer meals safely while you’re away.

You must at all times carry loads of water, bathroom paper, sunscreen, bear spray, and a Half Dome Path map for the reason that cellphone sign may be sketchy. Half Dome hikers tackling the spherical journey in a day could require much less meals and water, however it’s sensible to hold a little bit greater than you assume you’ll want. A number of sugary snacks may be nice for providing you with that wanted enhance alongside the trickiest components of the path.

Half dome hiking gear

You might need to deliver a fundamental first help package and a Through Ferrata climbing harness. A primary help package 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 Through Ferrata climbing harness shall be useful if you wish to strap your self in for additional safety on the Half Dome cables. The Half Dome cables aren’t designed to be tackled as a Through Ferrata route. In reality, the poles can sometimes come unfastened – so climbing strapped to the cables isn’t risk-free. Nonetheless, it does present some additional safety and peace of thoughts. You might want to take the additional precaution in case you have a worry of heights or whether it is actually crowded.

Final however not least, what garments do you have to 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 when you add footwear with a foul grip into the combination, 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. Equally, descending the sandy space close to Little Yosemite Valley requires good ankle assist when navigating your manner down the trail feeling drained and weak.

Half dome hike Trail Map

A peaked hat is one other agency suggestion. A lot of the path is uncovered to the weather, particularly on the ultimate climb up the Half Dome cables. The very last thing you need is to be battling heatstroke and sunburn when you find yourself already on essentially the most difficult part of the climb. You’ll additionally admire a thick pair of gloves with a great grip for the Half Dome cables part.

Because the rock is slippery on this part, you’ll closely depend on higher physique power to assist your self by holding the steel cables. Gloves will assist stop blisters and make the duty a lot simpler for you. Additionally, when you find yourself 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.

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

Finest time to hike to Half Dome

Best time to Hike Half Dome

The truth that the Half Dome cables are solely accessible from Memorial Day to Columbus Day already narrows down the most effective time to hike Half Dome. If you wish to sort out the hike, you’ll have to get a Half Dome allow to mean you can go to between Might and October.

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

Hiking Half Dome in September

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

In case you are eager on climbing the steps with as few individuals as attainable then plan to reach round 8 am to the cables. If you happen to get there between 11 am and 12 pm you possibly can assure it will likely be packed and also you may need to attend in line simply to do the ultimate part.

Essential Notice: You’ll need to keep away from climbing Half Dome if there are storms or heavy rain forecasted. Climate situations can flip the path extraordinarily harmful. If a storm seems close by, the most effective factor you are able to do is flip round or take shelter in a constructing like a bathroom block if attainable.

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

How troublesome is the Half Dome hike?

Half dome Hike Difficulty

Briefly, the Half Dome hike is troublesome. The mileage and elevation achieve are each substantial, and the difficult sections have actual dangers. Greater than twenty individuals have died tackling the Half Dome path, and over forty individuals have died on the routes used to entry the ultimate part. The dangers are actual, and it’s worthwhile to be energetic when prioritizing your security. Profitable 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 may sort out the Half Dome hike with out coaching. Nonetheless, you’d must be in any other case match and wholesome with a great baseline degree of health. You’ll be extra profitable when you do some coaching main as much as the hike.

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

In case you are not sure 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 possibly can camp at Little Yosemite Valley Campground and break up the gap over two days.

To Conclude

Yosemite Half dome Hike

Half Dome hike is well one of many US’s hottest climbing trails – holding a primary spot on many individuals’s bucket lists. It could be difficult, however it’s the good instance of how ‘nothing good in life comes straightforward. The large gray dome is a much-loved and revered landmark in Yosemite and is nicely value tackling when you can.

Simply bear in mind, there is no such thing as a disgrace in attending to the cables and turning round. If you happen to 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 purpose to sort out this hike.

Feeling impressed? You might need to try a few of our different favourite hikes in California or the United States as a complete. In fact, there are additionally many alternative issues to do in Yosemite Nationwide Park. You’ll most likely need 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 shall be memorable, and we hope you have got an inspiring and profitable journey.

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