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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 in your mountain climbing bucket checklist and is well some of the well-known in Yosemite National Park. It shouldn’t be for newcomers; 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 little thing it’s essential to know in regards to the Half Dome hike. From what to anticipate alongside the way in which to a breakdown of the perfect occasions for mountain climbing Half Dome, we’ve received you coated.

What is Half Dome?

Half dome Hike Guide in Yosemite

First off, what’s Half Dome? Half Dome is an enormous granite rock formation situated within the east of Yosemite Valley. The dome will get its identify 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 stage that rises 4,800 toes (1463 meters) above Yosemite Valley. The rock formation is basically an uncovered magma chamber, which turned seen because of the 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 this time.

Half Dome Hike History

Half Dome doesn’t simply get its fame from its appears to be like, although; the Half Dome hike is famend as some of the difficult 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 be simply probably the greatest locations to go to within the US if you happen to 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

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

Yosemite National Park has strict laws.

Forget merely deciding to climb Half Dome on the final minute; simply coming into Yosemite National Park can require a great stage of planning. The nationwide park has frequent laws and restrictions, and you may count on 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 would possibly 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 verify the official Yosemite National Park web site for highway closures or different essential 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 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 inconceivable.

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 every day lottery. The every day lottery runs two days prematurely, so that you’ll have two days warning if you happen to 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 completely different path choices

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

Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail are the preferred major route choices. However, if you need an additional difficult hike, you possibly can full the Half Dome Trail through Glacier Point 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 in an effort to camp.

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

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 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 perfect route so that you can hike Half Dome.

The Muir Trail and Mist Trail are the 2 trails you possibly can select between on the principle 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 be a lot much less steep than the Mist Trail – 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 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 concept of steep, slippery stairs is a no-go for you, we advocate selecting the Muir Trail.

Finally, you possibly can additionally decide 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 gorgeous 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 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 gorgeous alpine lake fashioned by glacial motion and situated northeast of Half Dome. You can be a 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, you may also 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

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 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 season, the East Yosemite Valley service has buses each eight to 12 minutes, and runs between 7 am and 10 pm.

Finally, you possibly can take a guided tour of Half Dome. These excursions usually embrace 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 a giant query. We’ll cowl what to anticipate when mountain climbing Half Dome usually, then give attention to what to anticipate mountain climbing Half Dome through 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 – it is a actuality that sounds fairly difficult whenever you say it out loud. You’ll be strolling from dawn and returning within the late night if you happen to select a Half Dome day hike. Half Dome is under no circumstances a simple hike, and you need to count on 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 don’t have any safety from the solar. By nature, the Half Dome hike is difficult.

Half dome Hike Challenges

However, you may also count on Half Dome to be some of the rewarding hikes within the US. Along the path, you’ll discover gorgeous waterfalls and serene viewpoints and face many challenges that instill a powerful sense of feat. Since it’s important to get fortunate to bag Half Dome permits, there’s a terrific 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 probably the greatest issues on a stroll to Half Dome.

It’s stated 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 time you attain the cable route, although, there’s often 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 toes or determine to show round, the optimistic ambiance provides a powerful sense of “we are all in this together”.

Ladders at Half Dome Hike

In phrases of services, the one flush bogs out there 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 convey your individual rest room 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 count on from mountain 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 affix 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 a part of the uphill switchbacks because the path winds to climb out of the valley flooring. From right here, you’ll move 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 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 observe so that you can help and steadiness your self. A through feratta harness is elective, though an increasing number of persons are bringing climbing gear 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 advocate 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 may be loads to admire earlier than you attain Half Dome.

What are the perfect 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 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 perfect 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 under. 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 situated 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 stunning Sub Dome might be. Sub Dome is a superb taster of the ultimate climb. You can take pleasure in spectacular views over the encircling granite domes and woodland under.

Little Yosemite Valley

You move by means of Little Yosemite Valley on a sandy path, chopping by means of woodland and wilderness. Little Yosemite Valley is a gorgeous panorama, and you could spot black bears, deer, coyotes, and even bobcats if you happen to’ve received a pointy eye.

Liberty Cap

Liberty Cap is an enormous granite dome, not in contrast to Half Dome. You’ll move the dome simply after you move 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

Olmsted Point

Olmsted Point won’t be precisely in your route, however you possibly can all the time 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 possibly can pull in and go to as an alternative. 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 value contemplating if you’re tackling Half Dome over a number of days and have a wonderful health stage. The views from the summit are gorgeous, and it’s a nice hike to get a special perspective of Half Dome. Most individuals mix mountain climbing up Clouds Rest and Half Dome over three to 4 days.

Glacier Point

As we coated earlier, some individuals could want to begin their Half Dome hike at Glacier Point moderately than Happy Isles. While this route is lots longer, it’s gorgeous, and also you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramas. If mountain climbing 20 miles of adverse terrain in a day doesn’t put you off, Glacier Point is without doubt one of 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 notice 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 convey on the Half Dome hike

What to bring on Half Dome Hike

As we’ve stated, preparation is important. There are many hikes within the US that you may present as much as in informal, on a regular basis garments and trainers and have a implausible time. However, figuring out that the Half Dome hike requires dependable garments and kit is crucial. At the very least, you’ll wish to go away your worn-out runners at house, and on the most, you could even wish to convey climbing gear like a harness. This part will cowl all the perfect issues to convey on a Half Dome hike.

To begin with, you’ll must determine if you’re planning a backpacking journey or a strenuous day hike. If you propose a multi-day backpacking journey, you’ll must pack extra meals and water provides, plus your whole tenting gear. Little Yosemite Valley Campground permits you to go away 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 should sort out the Half Dome cables with a tent in your backpack. With this in thoughts, although, you need to restrict the property you convey in an effort to safely go away issues in your tent. You may also want a bear field to retailer meals safely if you are away.

You ought to all the time carry loads of water, rest room paper, sunscreen, bear spray, and a Half Dome Trail map because the telephone sign could 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 just a little greater than you suppose you’ll want. A couple of sugary snacks could be nice for providing you with that wanted increase alongside the trickiest elements of the path.

Half dome hiking gear

You could wish to convey a fundamental 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 slot in your backpack, it may be useful in minor accidents. The Via Ferrata climbing harness might 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 truth, 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 could want to take the additional precaution in case you have a concern of heights or whether it is actually crowded.

Last however not least, what garments must you convey 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 if you happen to add footwear with a nasty 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. 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 final thing you need is to be battling heatstroke and sunburn if you end up 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.

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, if you end up completed, take into consideration giving your gloves to a different climber. That manner you don’t have to hold them down or go away them there.

Finally, you’ll want all the usual mountain climbing fundamentals. Make positive to convey 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

The undeniable fact that the Half Dome cables are solely out there from Memorial Day to Columbus Day already narrows down the perfect 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 May and October.

Typically, 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 season. You can all the time e-book lodging in Curry Village, only a fifteen-minute stroll from the ‘Happy Isles’ trailhead. It is a superb 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 must be cooler, making climbing extra pleasing. You ought to discover that campsites have extra space 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 individuals as attainable then plan to reach round 8 am to the cables. If you get there between 11 am and 12 pm you possibly can assure it is going to be packed and also you might 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, the perfect factor you are able to do is flip round or take shelter in a constructing like a rest room block if attainable.

Half Dome permits could be 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 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 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 essential to be lively when prioritizing your security. Successful Half Dome hikers are courageous however positively not silly.

The path lengths differ 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 principle, you possibly can sort out the Half Dome hike with out coaching. Still, you’d have to be in any other case match and wholesome with a great baseline stage of health. You’ll be extra profitable if you happen to do some coaching main as much as the hike.

Plus, mountain climbing if you are exhausted raises the chance of slipping and having an accident, so that you’ll have the ability to hike stronger and safer in case your health ranges are larger.

If you’re 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 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 good 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 peril. The views as much as that time are greater than sufficient motive to sort out this hike.

Feeling impressed? You could wish to try 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 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 have got an inspiring and profitable journey.

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