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Discover the Best Yosemite Waterfall Hike

Dropping 2425 feet from the top of the upper fall to the base, the Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in the National Park. The waterfall is located in the Sierra Nevada, the major tourist attraction in the park. The National Park is known as the crown jewel of the United States of America.

Due to the tectonic plates’ movement, the meandering streams gradually started flowing into rivers, and thus the waterfall was formed. One often faces a dilemma as to which waterfall hike to visit first.

Yosemite Waterfall Hike
Photo by ArtHouse Studio

One thing visitors should always include in their itinerary is the Mist trail. Seeing, hearing, and smelling moving water from the falls relaxes us!

Around 4 million visitors come to the Yosemite National Park every year and get mesmerized by their beauty! It is important to plan the outing well in advance, only following the physical abilities of each visitor. The best times to visit the waterfall are early summer and spring.

Following are some of the most beautiful waterfall hiking sites one must visit:

Bridalveil Fall

The very first waterfall most visitors from Yosemite visit is the Bridalveil Fall. This waterfall is also visible in the Tunnel view. The waterfall flows fastest during the spring season, and when the wind catches the water, it reduces its speed.

The waterfall derives its name as it has a veil-like appearance because the frequent winds tend to blow the mist sideways. This waterfall is one of the most prominent in the Yosemite Valley. We know very well that most waterfalls are seasonal. However, the Bridalveil waterfall has water flowing all year long!

Nevada Fall

Having a drop of 594 feet, the Nevada Fall, decked upon the basin of the Merced River, is one of the country’s largest waterfalls. The waterfall is primarily recognized by its ‘bent shape.’ To be able to see this waterfall, one must first hike towards the Vernal Fall.

After hiking to the fall, trek 3.2 km to reach the summit. One has to plan the hike and prepare themselves for the challenges as the hike will be strenuous!

Vernal Fall

Along the same lines as the Nevada waterfall, the Vernal Fall flows from the Merced River. It is 317 feet, and just like its neighbor, the waterfall is visible at a distance from the world-famous Glacier Point. One can see the water flowing all year long!

However, by the end of the summer, one can see a slight decrease in volume as it tends to split itself into multiple strands. Crossing the Merced River, one can pass the first part of the hike to the footbridge without any hurdles.

Yosemite Falls

Known as one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, the Yosemite Waterfalls drop a total of 2425 feet. It is made up of three different drops- Upper Yosemite (436 meters), Middle Cascade Fall (206 meters), and Lower Fall (98 meters).

The most unique characteristic of the waterfall is that it is fed by snow, which melts down from the top of the mountains/valleys. The snowmelt occurs in the spring season.

One should be mindful of the fact that by late July, the flow of the waterfall is comparatively less as compared to the other months.

Horsetail waterfall

The waterfall, which offers one of the most breathtaking panoramic views, the Horsetail waterfall stands out from the rest! The place is well-documented each year by photographers.

Nothing is more blissful than watching the waterfall with the background of the sun descending over the horizon. Want to stack some images for your Pinterest board? Come and visit the Horsetail waterfall!

Sentinel falls

To reach the Sentinel Falls, one has to drive all the way to the east of the beach and park at the Four Mile Trailhead. You will be flabbergasted to know that it is a tiered waterfall that consists of six drops, which totals 1920 feet.

The Sentinel Falls has the longest single drop, which is 150 meters. If you come through the Southside drive along the valley, you will be able to see the astounding waterfalls from a faraway distance!

Illilouette Fall

Known as a hiker’s favorite, the waterfall is at a height of 370 feet. It is one of the lesser-known waterfalls in the Yosemite Valley.

One can also catch a quick glimpse of the waterfall if they hike down the Panorama trail. It is recommended that only experienced hikers go for this trek as it is a strenuous one!

Wapama Falls

Having an elevation of 3728 feet, the total elevation gain of Wapama Falls is at 200 feet. There are two waterfalls located to the north of Hetch Hetchy Valley and below the Hetch Hetchy Dome, Wapama Falls being the larger of the two! It flows throughout the year.

This falls consists of falls which are at an angle of 60 degree with each other. The visitors reach the waterfalls after hiking 4km up the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir trail.

This waterfall is famous for spontaneous visitors and the Tueeulala Falls pave the way for the Wapama Falls. Thus, it is a win-win situation as this hike is a two-for-one reward.

Lehamite Falls

The Lehamite waterfalls primarily contain an array of steep cascades that ultimately fall 360 m in the valley. The falls are located in the Indian Canyon, which is the northern frontier of the Yosemite Valley.

The volume of the waterfall only increases after spring season or after a heavy rainfall. This is the most distinct waterfall from its remaining counterparts as it often flows for a short few weeks.

If you want to catch the most beautiful view of the waterfall, you should see it from Cook Meadow, which is its vantage point.

Final words

The Yosemite Falls trail is a very popular area for camping, hiking, and backpacking. In quest of reaching the main destination, you will be greeted by lush green forests, creeks, and picturesque valleys!

Most of the waterfalls at Yosemite can be viewed while reaching the destination or from a considerable distance of a short walking path. In some places, the trail is steep. However, it will invoke the adventurer in you!

Written by Emma Parker

Hi, I'm Emma Parker, a passionate outdoors enthusiast and blogger. I love nothing more than exploring the great outdoors and sharing my experiences with others.

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