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The Half Dome Hike in Yosemite: Your Complete Guide

The Half Dome Hike in Yosemite: Your Complete Guide


Looking for the final word Yosemite day hike? Half Dome is one to your climbing bucket listing and is definitely one of the vital well-known in Yosemite National Park. It shouldn’t be for learners; you’ll want good health and technical capability. 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 let you know every part you want to know concerning 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 acquired you coated.

What is Half Dome?

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

Half Dome is a formidable 8,800 ft (2682 meters) above sea stage that rises 4,800 ft (1463 meters) above Yosemite Valley. The rock formation is actually an uncovered magma chamber, which grew to become seen as a result of 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 this time.

Half Dome Hike History
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Half Dome doesn’t simply get its fame from its seems to be, although; the Half Dome hike is famend as one of the vital difficult hikes in the US. You can put 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 properly.

Half Dome is a singular pure attraction and day hike in Yosemite National Park. It can be simply the most effective locations to go to in the US in the event 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
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One of an important issues we’ve got realized after tackling many difficult trails is that preparation is important. You don’t need to arrive to search out the path closed, or that you will need to apply for a Half Dome allow. This part will cowl the necessities – the issues it is best to completely know earlier than climbing the Half Dome path.

Yosemite National Park has strict rules.

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

In peak hours, you could 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 test the official Yosemite National Park web site for street closures or different vital messages.

Half Dome hike is barely open in sure months

Half Dome hike shouldn’t be an all-year-round path. The Half Dome cables are sometimes 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 anticipate to climb Half Dome. Without the cable route intact, it’s unimaginable.

Getting a Half Dome allow

If you didn’t know, Half Dome has a strict allow 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 strive your luck with a every day lottery. The every day lottery runs two days in advance, so that you’ll have two days warning in the event 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 need 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 completely different path choices

There isn’t only one route you can take to sort out Half Dome. While there is just one last part (the Half Dome cables), you’ve got completely different path choices to decide on how you can get there. After Vernal Falls Bridge, the trail branches into two, and you’ll decide the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail to observe.

Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail are the most well-liked major route choices. However, if you would like an additional difficult hike, you’ll be able to full the Half Dome Trail through Glacier Point or Tenaya Lake. These routes are much less trodden and extra demanding in phrases of stamina – simply be sure to’ve utilized to your wilderness allow to be able 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
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Choosing a path not solely impacts your climbing expertise however may also outline it. You’ll decide between completely 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 the most effective route so that you can hike Half Dome.

The Muir Trail and Mist Trail are the 2 trails you’ll be able to select between on the primary hike. The John Muir Trail is the most well-liked route and is 17 miles lengthy. It provides 1.5 miles to the path however passes unimaginable viewpoints of Nevada Falls and a singular angle of Half Dome. It can be a lot much less steep than the Mist Trail – so you’ll be able to decide between an additional 1.5 miles of simpler terrain or a steep, shorter route.

Slippery Stairs on Half Dome hike Yosemite
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The Mist Trail is 14 miles in size and entails 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 thought of steep, slippery stairs is a no-go for you, we suggest selecting the Muir Trail.

Finally, you would additionally decide to hike Half Dome from Glacier Point. The 20-mile path is way much less trodden due to its demanding size and the bodily health it requires. But if you would like 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
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So, these are the first path choices that you simply’ll get. But what if you would like 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 an exquisite alpine lake shaped by glacial motion and positioned northeast of Half Dome. You can be part of climbing Tenaya Lake and Half Dome into one route of 23 miles, which is greatest tackled over a number of days.

Of course, you too can 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 positively value the additional effort. And this fashion, you get the identical traditional hike and a tenting expertise.

How to get to Half Dome trailhead

Half dome Hike Start
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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 strategy 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 plenty of 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 would take a guided tour of Half Dome. These excursions sometimes embrace transfers, like this one right here.

What to anticipate When climbing Half Dome

What to expect when hiking Half Dome
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What to anticipate when climbing Half Dome is a giant query. We’ll cowl what to anticipate when climbing Half Dome in common, then concentrate on what to anticipate climbing Half Dome through the Muir path. Ready? 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 whenever you say it out loud. You’ll be strolling from dawn and returning in the late night in the event you select a Half Dome day hike. Half Dome is not at all a straightforward hike, and it is best to anticipate to be pushed to the boundaries of your bodily and psychological capability. There are extraordinarily steep and slippery elements 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
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However, you too can anticipate Half Dome to be one of the vital rewarding hikes in the US. Along the path, you’ll discover beautiful waterfalls and serene viewpoints and face many challenges that instill a robust sense of feat. Since it’s a must to get fortunate to bag Half Dome permits, there’s an amazing ambiance amongst these climbing Half Dome Trail. After all, a hike to Half Dome is a privilege. The supportive ambiance is what many individuals declare to be the most effective issues on a stroll to Half Dome.

It’s mentioned that round 20-30% of hikers truly 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 shifting queue forming. You can rely on just a few phrases of encouragement or reassurance from different hikers. Whether you proceed slowly to sort out the final 400 ft or determine to show round, the constructive ambiance provides a robust sense of “we are all in this together”.

Ladders at Half Dome Hike
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In phrases of services, 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. Just keep in mind to carry your individual rest room paper. At Vernal Falls Footbridge you’ll be able to replenish your water, so plan a refill cease there in your approach up and down.

So, what are you able to anticipate from climbing the Muir Trail? Well, the route itself is simple 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
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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 flooring. 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
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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 ft or so, permitting you a perch to relaxation on, and two steel cables working both aspect of the monitor so that you can help and steadiness your self. A through feratta harness is optionally available, though an increasing number of individuals are bringing climbing gear following latest 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 acquire 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 good 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 the most effective issues to see and do on the Half Dome hike?

Things to see on Half Dome Hike
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As we’ve mentioned above, there are many issues to see and do in your strategy 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 strategy 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 ft off a granite cliff face and is positioned simply earlier than Nevada Fall. You can get near Vernal Fall through 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 notice how lovely Sub Dome will likely be. Sub Dome is a good taster of the ultimate climb. You can take pleasure in spectacular views over the encompassing granite domes and woodland beneath.

Little Yosemite Valley

You go by Little Yosemite Valley on a sandy path, chopping by woodland and wilderness. Little Yosemite Valley is an exquisite panorama, and you could spot black bears, deer, coyotes, and even bobcats in the event you’ve acquired 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 have the ability to admire Liberty Cap from the summit of Sub Dome and Half Dome. Keep your eyes peeled as it’s a formidable pure landmark.

Olmstead Point Yosemite
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Olmsted Point

Olmsted Point won’t be precisely in your route, however you’ll be able to at all times add it on as a detour. The scenic lookout presents 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’ll be able to pull in and go to as an alternative. It is a superb 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 value contemplating if you’re tackling Half Dome over a number of days and have a superb health stage. The views from the summit are beautiful, and it’s a nice hike to get a distinct perspective of Half Dome. Most folks mix 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 rather a lot longer, it’s beautiful, and also you’ll be rewarded with lovely panoramas. If climbing 20 miles of adverse terrain in a day doesn’t put you off, Glacier Point is without doubt one of the greatest issues to see on a Half Dome hike. You’ll additionally discover Washburn Point and Glacier Point Trailside Museum alongside Glacier Point Road, the street you drive to entry the trailhead.

Please observe that street enhancements have closed Glacier Point street for all of 2022 and you’ll anticipate delays throughout 2023 till the street upkeep is completed.

What to carry on the Half Dome hike

What to bring on Half Dome Hike
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As we’ve got mentioned, preparation is significant. There are many hikes in the US you can 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 need to depart your worn-out runners at house, and on the most, you could even need to carry climbing gear like a harness. This part will cowl all the most effective issues to carry on a Half Dome hike.

To begin with, you’ll have to determine 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 whilst you hike the ultimate stretch of the Half Dome path.

This is sweet information as you gained’t need to sort out the Half Dome cables with a tent in your backpack. With this in thoughts, although, it is best to restrict the property you carry to be able to safely depart issues in your tent. You may even want a bear field to retailer meals safely if you are away.

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

Half dome hiking gear
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You might need to carry a primary first support package and a Via Ferrata climbing harness. A primary support package by no means goes amiss, and so long as it isn’t too cumbersome to suit in your backpack, it may be useful in minor accidents. The Via Ferrata climbing harness will likely be helpful 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 often 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 when you have a worry of heights or whether it is actually crowded.

Last however not least, what garments must you carry 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 the event you add footwear with a foul 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 approach down the trail feeling drained and weak.

Half dome hike Trail Map
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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 if you find yourself already on probably the most difficult part of the climb. You’ll additionally admire a thick pair of gloves with an excellent grip for the Half Dome cables part.

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

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

Best time to hike to Half Dome

Best time to Hike Half Dome
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The proven fact 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 need to sort out the hike, you’ll have to get a Half Dome allow to mean you can 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 sunlight hours because you get fewer sunlight hours in September than in the peak 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
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In September, you’ll take pleasure in fewer crowds, and the temperatures needs to be cooler, making climbing extra fulfilling. You ought to discover that campsites have more room too, and who is aware of, perhaps you’ll get luckier in 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’ll be able to 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 need to keep away from climbing Half Dome if there are storms or heavy rain forecasted. Weather 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 potential.

Half Dome permits is likely to be thrilling to win, however it’s by no means value persevering with on a high-risk path when you’ll be able to 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
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In brief, the Half Dome hike is troublesome. The mileage and elevation acquire 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 want to be energetic when prioritizing your security. Successful Half Dome hikers are courageous however positively not silly.

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

Plus, climbing if you are 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.

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 approach, you’ll be able to camp at Little Yosemite Valley Campground and break up the space over two days.

To Conclude

Yosemite Half dome Hike
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Half Dome hike is definitely one of many US’s hottest 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 in hazard. The views as much as that time are greater than sufficient cause to sort out this hike.

Feeling impressed? You might need to take a look at a few of our different favourite hikes in California or the United States as an entire. Of course, there are additionally many various issues to do in Yosemite National Park. You will in all probability need to dedicate a big chunk of time to discover the encompassing space when you’ve accomplished Half Dome. A visit to any vacation spot in the nationwide park will likely be memorable, and we hope you’ve got an inspiring and profitable journey.

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