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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 last word Yosemite day hike? Half Dome is one in your climbing bucket checklist and is definitely one of the vital well-known in Yosemite National Park. It shouldn’t be for newbies; 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 inform you all the things it is advisable to know in regards to the Half Dome hike. From what to anticipate alongside the way in which to a breakdown of one of the best instances for climbing Half Dome, we’ve obtained you coated.

What is Half Dome?

First off, what’s Half Dome? Half Dome is a large 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 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 turned 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 right now.

Half Dome Hike History
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Half Dome doesn’t simply get its fame from its appears to be like, 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 nicely.

Half Dome is a singular pure attraction and day hike in Yosemite National Park. It can also be simply among the best locations to go to in the US when you love out of doors actions. Now that you’re extra acquainted with 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 crucial issues we now have realized after tackling many difficult trails is that preparation is crucial. 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 it’s best to completely know earlier than climbing the Half Dome path.

Yosemite National Park has strict laws.

Forget merely deciding to climb Half Dome on the final minute; simply getting into Yosemite National Park can require a very good degree 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, chances are 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 verify the official Yosemite National Park web site for highway closures or different vital messages.

Half Dome hike is simply 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 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 when 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 which you could take to deal with Half Dome. While there is just one remaining part (the Half Dome cables), you might have completely different path choices to decide on find out 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 observe.

Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail are the most well-liked fundamental 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 in phrases of stamina – simply be sure to’ve utilized in your wilderness allow so as 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
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Choosing a path not solely impacts your climbing expertise however also can 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 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 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 singular angle of Half Dome. It can also be a lot much less steep than the Mist Trail – so you may 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 includes ascending and descending a set of moist, slippery stairs. You’ll have unbelievable 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 may 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 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
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So, these are the first path choices that you simply’ll get. But what if you need extra journey? You also can deal with the Half Dome hike by way of these completely different routes, turning the Half Dome hike right into a multi-day expertise.

Tenaya Lake is a phenomenal alpine lake shaped by glacial motion and positioned northeast of Half Dome. You can be a 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 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
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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 approach to attain the trailhead is to drive, and if you’re questioning the place to park, don’t fear because the trailhead parking zone has a lot 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 choice is to drive to Yosemite National Park after which use the shuttle service. The nationwide park has an everyday 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 may take a guided tour of Half Dome. These excursions usually embrace transfers, like this one right here.

What to count on When climbing Half Dome

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

First off, count on 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 when 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 boundaries of your bodily and psychological capability. There are extraordinarily steep and slippery components 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
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However, you too can count on Half Dome to be one of the vital rewarding hikes in the US. Along the path, you’ll discover gorgeous waterfalls and serene viewpoints and face many challenges that instill a robust sense of feat. Since it’s important to get fortunate to bag Half Dome permits, there’s an awesome 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 among the best issues on a stroll to Half Dome.

It’s mentioned 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 rely on just a few phrases of encouragement or reassurance from different hikers. Whether you proceed slowly to deal with the final 400 ft or resolve 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 bogs accessible are at Vernal Falls Footbridge. You will discover composting bogs close to Emerald Pool, Nevada Falls, and Little Yosemite Valley. Just keep in mind to carry your personal bathroom 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 climbing the Muir Trail? Well, the route itself is simple to navigate. Starting from the 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
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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 ground. From right here, you’ll move Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, and Little Yosemite Valley, lastly reaching the Half Dome trailhead. Before you deal with the metallic cables, you’ll hike to the Sub Dome summit first – which has gorgeous 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 metallic cables working both aspect of the monitor so that you can help and steadiness your self. A by way of feratta harness is optionally available, 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 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 loads 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
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As we’ve mentioned above, there are many issues to see and do in your approach 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 approach 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 an interesting 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 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 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 stunning Sub Dome will probably be. Sub Dome is a good 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 phenomenal panorama, and chances are you’ll spot black bears, deer, coyotes, and even bobcats when you’ve obtained a pointy eye.

Liberty Cap

Liberty Cap is a large granite dome, not in contrast to Half Dome. You’ll move the dome simply after you move Nevada Fall. However, additionally, you will be capable of 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
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Olmsted Point

Olmsted Point won’t be precisely in your route, however you may all the time add it on as a detour. The scenic lookout gives views over Half Dome and Tanaya Canyon. It is an effective add-on if you’re tackling Half Dome on a multi-day hike because you received’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 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 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 gorgeous, and it’s a nice hike to get a special perspective of Half Dome. Most individuals mix 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 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 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 carry on the Half Dome hike

What to bring on Half Dome Hike
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As we now have mentioned, preparation is important. There are many hikes in the US which you could present as much as in informal, on a regular basis garments and trainers and have a unbelievable 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 residence, and on the most, chances are you’ll even need to carry climbing gear like a harness. This part will cowl all one of the best issues to carry 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 entire 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 received’t should deal with the Half Dome cables with a tent in your backpack. With this in thoughts, although, it’s best to restrict the property you carry so as to safely depart issues in your tent. You will even want a bear field to retailer meals safely when you are away.

You ought to all the time carry loads of water, bathroom paper, sunscreen, bear spray, and a Half Dome Trail map for the reason that cellphone sign will be sketchy. Half Dome hikers tackling the spherical journey in a day could require much less meals and water, however it’s smart to hold a little bit greater than you assume you’ll want. Just a few sugary snacks will be nice for supplying you with that wanted increase alongside the trickiest components of the path.

Half dome hiking gear
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You could need to carry a fundamental first assist equipment and a Via Ferrata climbing harness. A primary assist equipment 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 probably 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 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 when you’ve got 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 when 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 manner down the trail feeling drained and weak.

Half dome hike Trail Map
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A peaked hat is one other agency suggestion. Much 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 probably the most difficult part of the climb. You’ll additionally respect a thick pair of gloves with a very good 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 metallic cables. Gloves will assist forestall blisters and make the duty a lot simpler for you. Also, 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.

Finally, you’ll want all the usual climbing fundamentals. Make positive to carry 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
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The incontrovertible 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 need to deal with the hike, you’ll have to get a Half Dome allow to help you 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 in the peak of summer season. You can all the time guide 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 gratifying. You ought to discover that campsites have extra space too, and who is aware of, possibly you’ll get luckier in 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 may assure will probably be packed and also you might 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, 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 attainable.

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 climbing season for Half Dome coincides with the driest months.

How tough is the Half Dome hike?

Half dome Hike Difficulty
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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 is advisable 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 accurately fits you and your health abilities. In principle, you may deal with the Half Dome hike with out coaching. Still, you’d must be in any other case match and wholesome with a very good baseline degree of health. You’ll be extra profitable when you do some coaching main as much as the hike.

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

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 may camp at Little Yosemite Valley Campground and break up the gap 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 deal with this hike.

Feeling impressed? You could need to take a look at a few of our different favourite hikes in California or the United States as a complete. Of course, there are additionally many alternative issues to do in Yosemite National Park. You will 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 in the nationwide park will probably be memorable, and we hope you might have an inspiring and profitable journey.

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