The Panorama Trail is approximately 12 miles long with plenty of steep gains and big payoffs. Because of those gains, hikers who do the Panorama Trail should be in moderate/good fitness. This trail offers some of the most stunning views of Yosemite Valley from angles and perspectives you don’t often find on postcards. The Panorama Trail also weaves together portions of smaller trails so the options are endless, but my favorite starts at the Four Mile Trail and finishes with a decent off the Mist Trail to Happy Isles.
Many parts of the trail have recently been under construction and are in very good condition. You’ll notice the masonry on this trail is comfortable to hike on and built to last. Bring your camera to make your friends and neighbors jealous-the views are spectacular!
Depending on your location, enter Yosemite National Park via highway 120, 140 or 41. Once in the park head towards Yosemite Valley. Trailhead and parking is on the right about 0.1 miles past Sentinel Beach on Southside Drive. Take the trailhead for the Four Mile Trail. This is where the heavy lifting starts as you hike up to the top of the trail at Glacier Point, which is accessible by automobile. From the Point, hike the Panorama Trail down to Illilouette Creek, at the top of the falls, which is about a 2 mile hike from Glacier Point, you can turn back here for a shorter hike or continue towards Illilouette Falls. The top of Illiloutte Falls is beautiful-take a short rest here and enjoy the sound of the falls. Follow the footbridge across the creek back to the Panorama Trail. This will take you to more breath taking views of the Yosemite Valley West and East and coming to the Top of Nevada Falls on the Merced River. From there you can begin to wind your way back down to the Valley floor via the Mist Trail.
Tips for the Trail
As with any summertime hike, be prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. If you want a less strenuous hike skip the difficult Four Mile Trail at the beginning of the hike and instead start at Glacier Point. Remember you will be coming out at Happy Isles though, so consider that in your transportation arrangements ahead of time.