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The Half Dome Hike in Yosemite: Your Complete Guide


Looking for the last word Yosemite day hike? Half Dome is one on your climbing bucket listing and is well one of the well-known in Yosemite National Park. It just isn’t for rookies; you’ll want good health and technical means. 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 the whole lot you could know concerning the Half Dome hike. From what to anticipate alongside the best way to a breakdown of the perfect occasions for climbing Half Dome, we’ve bought 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 clean 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 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 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 as we speak.

Half Dome Hike History
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Half Dome doesn’t simply get its fame from its appears, although; the Half Dome hike is famend as one of the 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 be simply among the best locations to go to in the US for those who 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 crucial issues we’ve realized after tackling many difficult trails is that preparation is important. You don’t wish to arrive to search out the path closed, or that you should 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 laws.

Forget merely deciding to climb Half Dome on the final minute; simply coming into Yosemite National Park can require 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, it’s possible you’ll 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 simply open in sure months

Half Dome hike just isn’t 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 anticipate to climb Half Dome. Without the cable route intact, it’s unattainable.

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 attempt your luck with a each day lottery. The each day lottery runs two days in advance, so that you’ll have two days warning for those who 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 you could take to deal with Half Dome. While there is just one ultimate 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 may choose the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail to comply with.

Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail are the preferred fundamental route choices. However, if you would like 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 in phrases of stamina – simply ensure you’ve utilized on 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
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Choosing a path not solely impacts your climbing expertise however may also outline it. You’ll choose 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 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 primary 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 singular angle of Half Dome. It can be a lot much less steep than the Mist Trail – so you possibly can choose 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 incredible 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 advocate selecting the Muir Trail.

Finally, you could possibly additionally choose 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 would like 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 would like extra journey? You may also deal with the Half Dome hike through these completely different routes, turning the Half Dome hike right into a multi-day expertise.

Tenaya Lake is a ravishing 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 may as well 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 undoubtedly 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 solution 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 a number 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 just 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 points of interest 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 could possibly 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
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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 basic, then deal with 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 once you say it out loud. You’ll be strolling from dawn and returning in the late night for those who select a Half Dome day hike. Half Dome is certainly not a straightforward hike, and it is best to anticipate to be pushed to the bounds 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
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However, you may as well anticipate Half Dome to be one of the 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 important 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 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 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 toes or resolve to show round, the constructive ambiance offers a robust sense of “we are all in this together”.

Ladders at Half Dome Hike
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In phrases of amenities, 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 bear in mind to carry your individual rest room paper. At Vernal Falls Footbridge you possibly can refill 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 Trail? Well, the route itself is easy 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 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 deal with the steel 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 toes or so, permitting you a perch to relaxation on, and two steel cables operating both aspect of the observe so that you can help and stability your self. A through feratta harness is non-compulsory, 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 advocate permitting twelve hours simply in case. It is sweet to have the ability to cease at points of interest like Nevada Falls alongside the best way, and there may be a lot 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
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As we’ve mentioned above, there are many issues to see and do in your solution to summit Half Dome. Most of the pure points of interest on the best way double up as distinguished factors for navigation, so that you’ll naturally get to sightsee as you navigate your solution to the summit. This part will cowl the perfect issues to see and do alongside the best way.

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 best way. 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 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 understand 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 encircling granite domes and woodland beneath.

Little Yosemite Valley

You move by way of Little Yosemite Valley on a sandy path, slicing by way of woodland and wilderness. Little Yosemite Valley is a ravishing panorama, and it’s possible you’ll spot black bears, deer, coyotes, and even bobcats for those who’ve bought 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 be capable of 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 possibly can at all times add it on as a detour. The scenic lookout provides 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 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 possibly can pull in and go to as a substitute. 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 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 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 moderately than Happy Isles. While this route is so much longer, it’s gorgeous, 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 likely 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 anticipate 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’ve mentioned, preparation is important. There are many hikes in the US you could present as much as in informal, on a regular basis garments and trainers and have a incredible 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 residence, and on the most, it’s possible you’ll even wish to carry climbing gear like a harness. This part will cowl all the perfect 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 all your tenting gear. Little Yosemite Valley Campground means that you can go away your tent and non-valuables on the campsite when you hike the ultimate stretch of the Half Dome path.

This is sweet information as you received’t must deal with the Half Dome cables with a tent in your backpack. With this in thoughts, although, it is best to restrict the property you carry as a way to safely go away issues in your tent. You can even want a bear field to retailer meals safely when 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 may be sketchy. Half Dome hikers tackling the spherical journey in a day might require much less meals and water, however it’s smart to hold slightly greater than you suppose 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
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You might wish 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 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 sometimes come free – 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 in case you have a worry of heights or whether it is actually crowded.

Last however not least, what garments do you have to 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 for those who 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 final thing you need is to be battling heatstroke and sunburn when you’re already on probably the most difficult part of the climb. You’ll additionally recognize a thick pair of gloves with 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, when you’re 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 climbing fundamentals. Make positive to carry layers (together with a water-resistant, 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 perfect time to hike Half Dome. If you wish to deal with the hike, you’ll have to get a Half Dome allow to will let 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 daylight because you get fewer daylight in September than in the peak of summer season. 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 pleasurable. 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 folks 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 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 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 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 brief, the Half Dome hike is tough. 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 could be energetic when prioritizing your security. Successful 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 idea, you could possibly deal with the Half Dome hike with out coaching. Still, you’d should be in any other case match and wholesome with baseline degree of health. You’ll be extra profitable for those who do some coaching main as much as the hike.

Plus, climbing when you are exhausted raises the chance of slipping and having an accident, so that you’ll be capable of 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 gap over two days.

To Conclude

Yosemite Half dome Hike
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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 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 hazard. The views as much as that time are greater than sufficient purpose to deal with this hike.

Feeling impressed? You might 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 alternative 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 in the nationwide park will likely be memorable, and we hope you’ve got an inspiring and profitable journey.

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