Submitted by: Jennifer Miller, Marketing & Communications Director
If you have ever stood near the base of Yosemite Falls at the peak of the waterfall season, there will be no doubt in your mind about why these falls get marquee billing in Yosemite. Falling at a breath taking height of 2,425 ft, Yosemite Falls has the distinction of being the tallest waterfall in North America. It is an exhilarating, vigorous hike to get to the top-- but well worth it for the stunning views, like those found at Columbia Point.
Plan an early start as the trail gets baked by midday sun and be sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, snacks and lots of water. The earlier you start the less crowded the trail will be on your way up to the top. The trail is about 7 miles round-trip and will take 6-8 hours to complete. Begin at the Yosemite Falls Trailhead, Camp 4 (shuttle stop #7).
The trail begins under the trees as the switchbacks bring you up to Columbia Point (official name on maps is Columbia Rock, but most refer to this spot as Columbia Point). Take a break here and enjoy the view, with nearly a 180 vista of the Valley with Half Dome dominating. Don’t worry that you can’t yet see the Falls, they’ll be visible soon. Keep winding your way up the trail and be sure to look back into Yosemite Valley when the view allows – it’s a great way to take your mind off the uphill climb.
Take another break near the base of Upper Yosemite Falls. There are many good spots for a quick respite from the sun as well as great photo opportunities to share with your friends back home. The view of the Falls will inspire you to head all the way to the top. Take it slow, be safe and have fun along the way. When you top out, you’ll feel tired but elated and have stunning views all around – the granite walls, the Valley stretched out below and the Falls thundering thousands of feet to the ground.
Enjoy your hike back down and soak in all the views that you didn’t catch on the way up. And then reward yourself with some ice cream from the Village store. You’ve earned it! If a seven mile hike is not in your plans, then be sure to take the leisurely one-mile loop trail to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall. You’ll feel the mist from the world’s fifth largest waterfall without even breaking a sweat.
Begin at the Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead (shuttle stop #6) See stunning footage and hear ranger reflections about Yosemite Falls. Watch Episode # 2 of Yosemite Nature Notes, entitled Yosemite Falls to learn more.