A few years back, we did the reverse of what most people do on New Year’s Eve. We partied all day and slept all night. Our kind of party is typically hosted by Mother Nature, up in the mountains or down at the beach.
We spent all day hiking in Yosemite, one of America’s most beautiful National Parks, and went ice skating under the shadow of Half Dome that evening. We filled our hungry bellies just outside the park at South Gate Brewing Company (I’m tempted to drive all the way up to NorCal just for this place – some of the best burgers, fish ‘n’ chips and shepherd’s pie ever). The next morning, we froze our toes off on a photo walk in Cooks Meadow before finding sunnier ground up in Mariposa Grove. We hope to be back to Yosemite soon to tackle a few hikes on our bucket list, like Half Dome, Cathedral Lakes and, maybe someday, the whole John Muir Trail.
When to Hike
The Yosemite Falls Trail is open year-round, including December 31st! It gets direct sunlight, which makes it a great winter trail as there isn’t a lot of ice and snow. Aaron and I both started out with what felt like five layers of jackets and thermals . With the warm sun, we were carrying all of them a few minutes into the hike. This is a popular trail, but we only had a few fellow hikers during this off-peak time.
To check out current trail conditions, see the Yosemite Falls webcam.
Yosemite Falls Trail is moderate to difficult, depending on how far you go. Turnaround points are typically Columbia Rock, with amazing views of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, and the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. We weren’t up for the trek to the top of the rock, so we stopped somewhere after Upper Yosemite Falls came into view. The trail got pretty steep from there, so I can imagine it takes some solid legs and lungs to get to the top!
RT to Columbia Rock: 2 miles, 2-3 hours
RT to Upper Yosemite Falls: 7.2 miles, 6-8 hours
Getting to the trail
The trail starts near Camp 4, about a mile walk from the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. Use Shuttle stop #7 or El Capitan Shuttle stop #E2 to access the trail.
Up to Columbia Rock
One of the best parts about this trail are the stunning views of Yosemite Valley. You can see El Capitan and Half Dome.
And a few deer!
Back down in the Valley