Awe-Inspiring Yosemite National Park Upper Falls: 5 Must-See Sights

Yosemite National Park’s Upper Falls is a must-visit for state park touring enthusiasts, especially those with advanced hiking skills. The Upper Yosemite Fall Trail, which leads to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall, offers incredible views and a challenging hike. The trail starts near Camp 4, along the Valley Loop Trail, and immediately begins its climb, switchback after switchback, through oak woodland.

The Upper Yosemite Fall Trail

The Upper Yosemite Fall Trail is a strenuous hike that takes hikers to the top of the majestic Upper Yosemite Fall, the tallest waterfall in North America. The trail is known for its breathtaking views, challenging terrain, and the opportunity to witness the power of this natural wonder up close.

Key Details and Specifications

Detail Specification
Distance 7.2 miles (11.6 km) round trip to the top of Yosemite Falls
Elevation 2,700 ft (823 m) elevation gain
Difficulty Strenuous
Time 6-8 hours round trip
Trailhead Camp 4 area (near shuttle stop #7)
Season Open year-round; conditions vary depending on the season
Cost $35 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days
Parking The Yosemite Falls trailhead is located along the Valley Loop Trail near Camp 4. The Camp 4 parking area is for campers only, but there is parking at the Yosemite Falls parking area across the street from, and just beyond the entrance to Camp 4
Transportation The Valleywide Shuttle serves the trailhead area. Ride the shuttle to stop #7 and walk directly across the street to Camp 4 and follow trailhead signs

The Hike

The first significant viewpoint is Columbia Rock, located one mile (1.6 km) from the trailhead. Here, hikers can enjoy spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock. For those seeking a more strenuous hike, continuing another 0.5 miles (0.8 km) will lead to a stunning view of Upper Yosemite Fall.

The upper half of the trail is steep and rocky, but the breathtaking views of Yosemite Creek, which feeds this massive waterfall, make the climb worthwhile. However, hikers must exercise extreme caution near the creek, as they are directly above a waterfall.

Unique Perspective

Yosemite National Park Upper Falls

For a unique perspective, consider hiking the trail in the early morning or late afternoon during winter months when the upper portion of the trail is icy and slippery. This will provide a more challenging and adventurous experience, but hikers should be well-prepared with appropriate gear and clothing.

Safety Considerations

In 2011, a hiker fell to his death while attempting to take a shortcut off the marked path near Upper Yosemite Fall. This tragic incident serves as a reminder to always stay on the marked trail and exercise caution when hiking near steep drops and waterfalls.


The Upper Yosemite Fall Trail is a must-do hike for state park touring enthusiasts who are up for a challenging and rewarding experience. The stunning views, the power of the waterfall, and the sense of accomplishment make this hike a truly unforgettable adventure in Yosemite National Park.


  1. Upper Yosemite Fall Trailhead (U.S. National Park Service)
  2. Upper Yosemite Falls Hike (
  3. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, California – AllTrails
  4. Yosemite Falls Trail – National Park Service

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