Hiking the Best of Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park | California
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to go hiking in Yosemite

  • Trip Highlight

    Yosemite Valley is home to over a dozen spectacular trailheads

  • Trip Highlight

    Enjoy views of waterfalls, granite domes, jagged peaks, and alpine meadows

  • Trip Highlight

    Half Dome is the most iconic hiking destination in the Park, if not in the world

While Yellowstone was the first designated National Park in the US, it was Yosemite that captured the interest of early conservationists and was the first parcel of land to be set aside specifically for preservation — signed into existence by none other than Abraham Lincoln in 1864. For more than 150 years, Yosemite has enthralled its visitors with its abundantly diverse wildlife, waterfalls, sequoias, trails and mountains, as well as monoliths. The park annually entices up to 4 million visitors who want to explore, climb, hike, camp and immerse themselves amid the park’s iconic features like El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, Dana Meadows, and the Cathedral Range. The list goes on and on, and it’s obvious that Yellowstone offers some of the best hikes in northern California! All it takes is one visit or a look at some Ansel Adams photos to understand the park’s massive appeal to many people from the US. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to be amazed! Find out more about the six best hikes in Yosemite National Park from Liz Thomas, a professional hiker and guidebook author.

Season

May through October

Nearest city

Sacramento, CA, is 3 hours away, San Francisco, CA, is just over 4 hours away

Duration

5 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Itineraries

Book this adventure

Best of Yosemite Backpacking Trip

5 days

Formed by millions of years of geological activity, Yosemite’s granite cliffs and massive giant sequoia groves provide a backdrop for a trip like no other. Hike and camp in the Sierra over the course of five days and follow the trails that will take you into the dramatic landscapes of the park, crossing stunning and serene alpine lakes and travel over high mountain passes. Hiking days usually include about 6 total hours on the trail, covering anywhere from 5-8 miles on the day. Expect amazing camping with rivers and clear alpine lakes outside your tent and explore the classics such as the Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and Tuolumne Meadows! 

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Day 1: The adventure begins!

Meet your guide by mid-morning and head to Yosemite National Park. You’ll stop along the way for stretch breaks and snacks before arriving at your campground home (for the next four nights, anyway!). Once you set up camp eat a hearty dinner, get to know one another, and review the itinerary for the rest of the adventure.

Meals: Dinner

Entrance gate with American flag of Yosemite National Park. Summer American holidays in California of United States of America.

Day 2: Yosemite Valley

Head out on the trails of Yosemite for a full day of hiking in the valley. The day will include several short, mild hikes along the valley floor with stops to see points of interest such as Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and Mirror Lake. Along the way, your guide will share information about the wildlife and human history of the area.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, and more iconic stops in the Yosemite Valley

Day 3: Tuolumne Meadows

Set out early and head to the Yosemite High Country – Tuolumne Meadows. This area of the park tends to be much less crowded than the valley below so take advantage of the quiet with a full-day hike. Over the course of our 6-8 hours on the trail, you’ll see stunning and serene alpine lakes and travel over high mountain passes. This evening, you’ll enjoy another delicious camp dinner as you prepare for the last day of hiking tomorrow.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

A deer buck is leading his herd through a water pool at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park

Day 4: Glacier Point

The final day of hiking is here! Today’s itinerary is a bit flexible depending on trail conditions but may include a hike from the valley to a stunning overlook or two shorter hikes in the high country above. Expect to be on the trail for about 4-6 hours total and to cover about 5-7 miles with moderately steep elevation gain. The day will be capped off with dusk views at Glacier Point – a perfect end to a wonderful trip!

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

A sign pointing to the trail to Glacier Point and Half Dome in the background

Day 5: Departure

After packing up camp, hit the road and return to San Francisco for departing flights and goodbyes after an amazing week of adventure!

Meals: Breakfast

San Francisco seen from air
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Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Yosemite National Park

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Yosemite, CA, please refer to the Government of California website.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get on this adventure:

  • A professional, knowledgeable, medically-trained, Yosemite hiking guide
  • All meals indicated in itinerary
  • Tent, sleeping pad, and group camping equipment
  • Round-trip transportation from the meeting point to Yosemite
  • Park entry fee

What’s not included:

  • Accommodation prior and after the trip
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Sleeping bag—available for rent
  • Personal camping gear
  • Transportation to the meeting point

How fit do I need to be?

These hiking adventures are best for intermediate to advanced hikers. Intermediate hikes will see a little more change in elevation and hikes will start to increase in length, hiking anywhere between four to eight miles. Advanced hikes are full day treks with steep descents and challenging switchbacks. You will hike 3-9 miles per day with a 25-35 lbs backpack.

It is highly recommended you have some previous recent wilderness backpacking experience and previous hiking experience with the ability to hike up to 10 miles a day. You should have the ability to carry an overnight backpack for up to 10 miles a day for multiple days in a row. Very good physical condition is required. Keep in mind, the weather in summer can be very hot and you’ll also be packing a daypack filled with water and other things you’ll need throughout the day. 

What do I need to bring?

Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

  • Day pack (15-30 L)
  • Luggage (can be left in the vehicle, 1 small suitcase per person)
  • Sleeping bag (rated to 20 degrees or below)
  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner (optional)
  • Travel pillow
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
  • Lightweight hiking boots or shoes
  • Outer waterproof shell jacket (hard shell) with hood
  • Hiking pant (soft shell)
  • Lightweight long underwear baselayer bottom
  • Lightweight long underwear baselayer top
  • Insulating layer – midweight
  • Insulated down or synthetic jacket
  • Synthetic T-shirt
  • Socks and underwear
  • Camp shoes or sandals
  • Comfortable clothes for camp
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Ear plugs — optional
  • Flashlight or a headlamp
  • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Eating utensils and a lightweight bowl — can be provided by the guide
  • Pocket knife
  • Swimwear — optional
  • Flip flops — optional
  • Camera — optional (but recommended)

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and pricing:

  • The tours listed above are not private and pricing is per person. 
  • The standard group size on these Yosemite hiking tours is eight guests to one guide, but larger groups can be accommodated.
  • It takes a minimum of 4 participants for the tour to run.
  • Price is based on double occupancy accommodations. Single supplement is available for an additional $200 per person.

Custom dates for this guided Yosemite hiking tours are possible. If you’re traveling with a larger party, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements. 

Min. age requirement:

  • Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this hiking adventure.

If you plan to hike with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Deposit and cancellation policy

A 35% deposit is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid the latest 2 months (60 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

  • Cancellations made more than 30 days before the trip start date will receive a refund, less a 20% cancellation fee.
  • Cancellations made within 30 days of a trip start date will receive no refund.

Your guide is not responsible for the cost of any flight changes or additional travel expenses if a participant is requested to change trip dates for safety reasons. Depending on current travel restrictions, participants may be asked to provide a negative COVID test upon arrival for a trip.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Yosemite, most people fly into Sacramento International Airport (SMF) which is around three hours away from the park. Another option is flying into the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), just over over four hours away from the park. 

If you choose to arrive at San Francisco International Airport by 11:00 AM PST on Day 1, your guide will pick you up shortly after arrival. Alternatively, your guide can collect you from your accommodation or another central point in San Francisco (within 30 minutes of airport) by 10:00 AM EST if you choose to arrive a day early.

Your guide will transport the group to the airport to arrive by 2:00 PM PST on Day 5. Please plan a departure after that time. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to book a hotel, please be prepared to find personal transportation from the airport.

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