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4 Mile Trail to Glacier Point

Hiking from the Yosemite Valley floor up to Glacier Point is a tough hike, gaining over 3,200′ elevation. Why in the heck would someone want to do that? I think it is well worth that climb and switchbacks to see views of Yosemite Falls that you can see from no other location. Viewing Half Dome, Nevada and Vernal Falls, Tenaya Canyon and so many of our high country friends is the payoff at Glacier Point. Of course, you can always drive to Glacier Point and still see those amazing views but you wouldn’t get that fine workout that you get when you hike the 4 Mile Trail.

Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance:10.04 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Range: 3,980′ – 7,222′
Date: May 14, 2014
Maps: El Capitan Topographic Quad

We parked at the trailhead pullout on the right hand side of Southside Drive, west of the Swinging Bridge and at the base of Sentinel Dome where there is a sign for the trailhead. We started up the 4 Mile Trail in the cool morning, going up and up on many switchbacks. Note that I said cool morning. This can be pretty darn hot to climb in the hot weather. Bring lots of water because you will be drinking it regardless of the weather.

We had our first great view of Yosemite Falls not long after we started up the trail. We could see both the Upper and the Lower falls. How beautiful!

4 Mile Trail 2

What a surprise to see some colorful flowering plants along the trail. Paintbrush, with its vibrant red flowers, was nestled in the rocks. Penstimon was rocking the purple colors and a teeny tiny succulent had beautiful small yellow flowers.

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We hit a few teeny tiny patches of snow along the trail.

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One of the big rewards of this tough hike is reaching the end of the uphill portion but the biggest payoff is the view once you reach Glacier Point.

4 Mile Trail 7

Of course we had to take pictures of ourselves with this amazing view behind us. Gail took the picture of me.

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We walked around Glacier Point to get a slightly different angle on our look up Tenaya Canyon and of Half Dome. Someone had placed Prayer Flags at Glacier Point.

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What a lunch spot. Can you believe we were the only people in the amphitheater? (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

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We met all kinds of nice people on this trip. We chatted with people from Kentucky, Tennessee, and helped take pictures of several groups of people. On the way down the trail, we stuck up a conversation with a couple of gals, one of them a local person from the Oakhurst area.

4 Mile Trail 15Although many people were out enjoying a hike or the views on this beautiful day, it didn’t feel crowded and we felt like we had the place to ourselves many times.

Hitting the trail early misses the largest crowds. This is also a great hike when Glacier Point Road is closed due to the weather but check the conditions ahead of time because this trail can also be closed due to weather conditions, ice and down trees.

4 Mile Trail 16


Day Hikes in the Tioga Pass Region, John Carroll O’Neill & Elizabeth Stone O’Neill, 2002

Prior Blogs on this Area:


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