Upper Yosemite Falls
ElevationAscent: 2,758' 841 m
Descent: -195' -59 m
High: 6,687' 2,038 m
Low: 4,038' 1,231 m
GradeAvg Grade: 18% (10°)
Max Grade: 50% (27°)
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“A steep run rewarded with a great view.”— tmizu ..
The Valley Visitor Shuttle (7 am to 10 pm year-round) serves the trailhead area. Ride the shuttle to stop #7 and walk directly across the street to Camp 4 and follow trailhead signs. You can also ride the El Capitan Shuttle (9 am to 6 pm) to Camp 4 (stop E2) from late May through early October.
If you make the one-mile, 1,000-foot climb (via dozens of switchbacks) to Columbia Rock, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock. From there, it is worth the time and energy to run another 0.5 miles (0.8 km) (some of which is actually downhill!) to get a stunning view of Upper Yosemite Falls. Depending on the season, you may even feel the mist from the fall, which may be a welcome respite after the tough climb.
The upper half of the trail is steep and rocky, but the arduous journey is well worth the amazing views you'll be rewarded with at the top. Here you may be surprised by the small size of Yosemite Creek, which feeds this massive waterfall. Use extreme caution when near the creek and remember you are directly above a waterfall.
At the top of the Yosemite Falls Trail, you can extend your run east to Yosemite Point (follow signs for North Dome; adds 1.6 miles round trip (2.6 km) to this run) or west to Eagle Peak (follow signs to El Capitan, adds 5.8 miles round trip (9.3 km) to this run). Yosemite Point offers direct views of Half Dome that rival those found on the North Dome Trail, gives you an opportunity to see Lost Arrow Spire up close, and provides panoramic views of many other peaks. Eagle Peak, part of the Three Brothers rock formation, is the highest point on the north rim of Yosemite Valley, which gives you a different perspective of the surrounding granite landscape.
Seasonality: The Yosemite Falls Trail is open year-round; conditions vary depending on the season. In spring, when the waterfall is at its peak, this run is stunning, and you may even get wet from the spray of the waterfall during a section of the run. In summer, conditions are hot and dry, and the loose decomposed granite along the trail can be slippery. Keep in mind that by August, the water levels are low and you may only see a trickle here. (Check out our Yosemite Falls webcam to see a current view.) During winter, the lower portion of this trail gets direct sunlight, so running can be snow-free while other trails are icy. Visiting Columbia Rock, located one mile up the trail, is a worthwhile trip at any time of year. The upper portion of this trail, which receives little to no sunlight in winter, can be very icy and slippery, or buried beneath feet of snow, making traction difficult. In winter, running in the colder early morning or late afternoon hours can be even more dangerous if the trail is icy.
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Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes
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Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite