Easy methods to Conquer the Half Dome Hike in Yosemite Nationwide Park – Bearfoot Principle

Mountaineering Half Dome is a ceremony of passage for outside fanatics and ranks among the many most well-known hikes within the US.

Etched into the beautiful canvas of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Half Dome is legendary for its sheer granite face and the long-lasting (however nerve-wracking) metal cables you will need to climb to achieve the summit.

Mountaineering Half Dome is just not for the faint of coronary heart – it’s a particularly strenuous day hike spanning 14+ miles with 5,300+ toes of elevation acquire. However you’ll be rewarded with beautiful waterfalls alongside the way in which and panoramic views of the whole Yosemite Valley and Excessive Sierra from the 8,800-foot summit, so it’s definitely worth the strenuous trek.

I hiked Half Dome in 2019 together with my husband and a few associates. This journey holds a particular reminiscence for me as a result of not solely was I happy with myself for efficiently ending the robust climb, however my husband deliberate a shock birthday celebration on the high of the dome for me!

Preserve studying for our full information to climbing Half Dome together with when to go to, what to pack, tips on how to get Half Dome permits, and an in depth journey report.

Essential Reminder: Because it goes in all the locations we share, please apply good path etiquette and bear in mind to Depart No Hint. This implies packing out your entire rubbish (together with rest room paper), being respectful to others, and following the established guidelines.

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Half Dome Overview & Path Map

There are lots of routes for climbing to the highest of the Half Dome. You may do it in a day or you could possibly do a multi-day backpacking journey.

Most individuals (together with us) select the day hike which is completely doable with correct preparation and planning.

For the day hike, the hike to the highest of Half Dome is a mix of two trails: the Mist Path and the John Muir Path.

These two trails begin on the identical trailhead (Comfortable Isles) and finish on the Half Dome so have numerous overlap (proven in pink on the map). There’s a part the place these two trails cut up on the way in which. The blue part reveals the John Muir Path route and the yellow part reveals the Mist Path route.

Trail map of Half Dome
Half Dome Path (Purple) — Yellow: Mist Path route. Blue: JMT route. | Photograph: Harshita Kasera

Primarily based on which route you select, the path size and time could differ. Mainly, you possibly can choose between an additional 1.5 miles of simpler terrain by taking the John Muir Path, or a steep and shorter route by taking the Mist Path, or you could possibly do one path on the way in which up and one other on the way in which down.

Most individuals select to hike the Mist Path on the way in which up and the John Muir Path on the way in which down.

That is the way in which we hiked the path and would extremely suggest it. The Mist Path on the way in which up has nice views of the Vernal & Nevada Falls and the John Muir Path on the way in which down was a lot better for my knees after a really lengthy day of climbing.

  • Size: 14-17 miles RT (relying on the path – by way of John Muir or Mist)
  • Issue: Extraordinarily strenuous
  • Path Kind: Out and again
  • Complete elevation acquire: 5,300-5,700 ft (relying on the path)
  • Time: 10-14 hours
  • Allow required: Sure
  • Canines allowed: No

Half Dome Path Map

How To Get Half Dome Permits

Because of the recognition of climbing Half Dome, permits are required. This allow system not solely protects the panorama from overuse but in addition ensures the protection of the hikers by decreasing the crowding on the cable part.

There are two methods to safe a Half Dome allow – within the March preseason lottery or the every day lottery in the course of the climbing season. All permits are reserved by way of Recreation.gov.

Pre-Season Lottery

To enter the preseason lottery, you will need to apply on-line anytime March 1-31 and outcomes shall be emailed out in mid-April. In case you are profitable in getting a allow, you’ll want to substantiate your reservation and pay the allow price.

There’s a cap of 300 hikers per day (225 day hikers, 75 backpackers) so it’s essential to be extraordinarily fortunate within the lottery. Fortunately, we gained the preseason lottery so we had been in a position to plan our journey far prematurely.

Every day Lottery

When you don’t get a allow within the pre-season lottery, there’s a every day lottery that happens two days earlier than you’d hike Half Dome (ex. you’d apply on a Thursday to hike on a Saturday).

The outcomes of the every day lottery are on condition that evening, so you will have the whole subsequent day to arrange.

Screenshot of recreation.gov website for Half Dome permits
Picture: Recreation.gov

What Occurs If I Don’t Get a Half Dome Allow?

When you do NOT get a allow, you’ll solely be allowed to go so far as the sub-dome (which is the bottom of the Half Dome the place the chains are hooked up to the mountain).

Rangers are usually stationed on the sub-dome to examine for permits and it’s a hefty high-quality of as much as $5,000 if you’re caught climbing Half Dome with out a allow.

Please don’t try the cables with out a Half Dome allow.

Finest Time to Hike Half Dome

The Half Dome cables normally go up the Friday earlier than Memorial Day (situations allowing) and are available down the day after Columbus Day so this narrows down the window if you wish to attain the summit.

Sometimes August or September is perhaps simpler to safe a allow than Might, June, or July as they’re the height summer season season. Weekdays are additionally simpler for getting permits vs. weekends.

Some individuals climb Half Dome outdoors of when the cables are up, however that’s extremely unadvised.

Other than that you just additionally must safe a allow, which dictates when you possibly can hike Half Dome.

We received our allow for August and through this time, the park was comparatively much less crowded than our earlier visits in Might and July. The climate was nice for climbing and fortunately there have been no wildfires close by affecting air high quality.

Half Dome cables shot from afar
The cables to climb to the summit are usually up late Might – mid October

How Lengthy Does it Take to Hike Half Dome?

Relying on whether or not you select to do the John Muir Path or the Mist Path or a mix of each, the climbing time could differ. On common, it takes 10 – 14 hours to hike Half Dome with numerous breaks in between.

Since we weren’t staying on the park, our day began early round 4:30 am and we reached the parking zone round 5:45 am. There have been ample parking spots on the Yosemite Valley trailhead parking so we parked our automotive and began the hike round 6:00 am.

Our tempo was fairly good and we had been in a position to end the hike in 12.5 hrs round 6:30 pm, with loads of time to benefit from the summit.

View of Half Dome from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park
Notice: this view of Half Dome is from Glacier Level, not the Half Dome path

How To Prepare for Half Dome

As evident from the stats, Half Dome is a particularly strenuous hike by way of size and elevation acquire. Correct planning and coaching are essential to having a incredible expertise.

We educated for climbing Half Dome by occurring hikes of assorted totally different lengths (6 miles to 10 miles) each different weekend to verify we’re in fine condition and apply. I’d extremely suggest doing that if potential in order that your physique is used to the space.

Planning Your Half Dome Hike

For a nice expertise, planning the entire Half Dome journey prematurely is extraordinarily essential. Right here’s a couple of key issues to remember:

Yosemite Entrance Charges

Since Half Dome is a part of Yosemite Nationwide Park, it’s essential to pay the per-vehicle entrance price or use your .

When To Begin Mountaineering Half Dome

In an effort to do the day hike, it’s essential to attain the trailhead fairly early within the morning at dawn (and even earlier), and resolve on a non-negotiable turn-around time (aka the time you’ll flip round in case you have not but reached the summit).

The parking zone can replenish rapidly, so an early arrive is vital for attending to park as near the trailhead as potential.

Half Dome is kind of uncovered so in the event you’re climbing within the warmth, it’s virtually crucial to get an early begin to attempt to beat the warmth.


Staying within the park itself the evening earlier than your Half Dome hike will guarantee reaching the trailhead early within the morning and is advisable if you may get tenting or lodging reservations.

Sadly, we weren’t in a position to get lodging within the park, but when we had been in a position to get one we might have most well-liked that to keep away from the 1+ hour drive at 4:30am.

Half Dome Packing Record

Along with the 10 day climbing necessities, there’s a couple of specifics you want for climbing Half Dome:

Beneath are a couple of of my favourite items of day climbing gear and proposals:

Path Report: Our Expertise Mountaineering Half Dome

Beginning the Hike

We reached the Nationwide Park round 5:30 am, and parked our automotive on the Yosemite Valley Trailhead Parking on the Comfortable Isle Loop Highway. It’s then a brief 0.5 mile stroll from Comfortable Isles Trailhead to the Half Dome Trailhead. We began round 6:00 am.

A woman hiking to Half Dome wearing a red backpack
Beginning our Half Dome Hike | Photograph: Antriksh Saxena

Vernal Falls

The primary important viewpoint from the trailhead is the Vernal Falls footbridge the place you get a glimpse of Vernal Falls. It’s about 1.5 miles from the trailhead, however the climb is fairly steep.

The waterfall is basically fairly and it is a great place for a photograph op. Vernal Falls can also be your final probability for flush bogs and a water fountain.

After the Vernal Falls footbridge, the trail branches into two, the place you possibly can choose the Mist Path or John Muir Path.

We select to do the Mist Path on the way in which up because it supplies a close-up view of the waterfalls. The Mist path is kind of steep and you finally attain the highest of Vernal Falls. Be ready to get moist on this path because the mist from the waterfalls will get to you. I’d suggest sporting a rain jacket or poncho throughout this part!

Vernal Falls with a rainbow at the base. Yosemite National Park
Vernal Falls

Nevada Falls

Climbing even additional in round 2 miles you’ll ultimately attain Nevada Falls. There’s a small detour to view the highest of Nevada Falls and take a brief break.

The highest of Vernal & Nevada Falls by way of Mist Path can also be a well-liked day hike in Yosemite Nationwide Park, so don’t count on solitude on this part of the hike.

Landscape photo of Nevada Falls and large granite domes in Yosemite National Park
Nevada Falls


About 3 miles after Vernal Falls, you’ll attain the subdome. To achieve the subdome, you’ll have to climb the enormous rock stairs. That is positively one of many difficult components of the hike!

After the climb, you’ll lastly attain the highest of the subdome. From the highest of the subdome, you will note the well-known Half Dome cables.

This can be a great spot to take a break and kit up earlier than you finally begin the climb.

I used to be truthfully a bit overwhelmed at this level. I do not need a concern of heights however for me, it was about taking a deep breath earlier than the cables and gaining psychological energy (Thoughts over matter).

There may be sincerely no disgrace in attending to the cables and turning round. I’d have achieved that if I didn’t really feel assured. When you don’t really feel so then it’s completely okay. When you try it with out being snug you’ll not solely put your self but in addition others in peril.

A man takes a selfie on the subdome of Half Dome with friends smiling in the background at a distance
Mountaineering up the subdome | Photograph: Antriksh Saxena

Climbing the Metal Cables

We reached the cables round 11:30 am. There was no ranger stationed at the moment to examine for permits, however all the time have your allow helpful simply in case.

There are two cables to climb the final 400 toes to the summit. Each 10-20 toes there are wood planks to relaxation and keep your stability. The cables are a couple of 45-55 diploma grade, and also you don’t want any mountaineering gear to climb them.

A shot from the bottle of the Half Dome cables
Half Dome cables

We equipped earlier than climbing the cables.

Earlier than you begin the climb, you should definitely put on full-fingered gloves to have a superb grip on the cables and keep away from any blisters.

Additionally you should definitely safe any belongings (digicam, telephone, water bottle) so nothing falls out of your day pack in the course of the climb!

​​The steel cables appear daunting however in the event you climb it patiently and safely one step at a time, it’ll appear straightforward. This is identical path for hikers going up and coming down so being aware is vital.

You will need to not solely take your time but in addition be affected person with different hikers. There weren’t many individuals on the cables throughout our climb. Stay on the within of the cables whereas climbing in your personal security.

We reached the summit of Half Dome after 20 minutes of climbing up the cables.

In case you are aware and secure, this half is extraordinarily thrilling and one of many highlights of the entire hike!

Notice: This can be very unsafe to try the cables if there are storm clouds or if the bottom is moist. Use your finest judgment.

A woman smiles wearing gloves at the base of the half dome cables in Yosemite
Climbing the Half Dome cables | Photograph: Antriksh Saxena

Summit of Half Dome

We lastly reached the highest of the Half Dome round midday and we had been greeted with panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the Excessive Sierra.

After a couple of picture periods, I used to be in for a shock.

My husband had carried a mini cake (Nothing Bundt cake — my favourite) to have fun my birthday. He all the time surprises me along with his candy gestures! We reduce the cake and did a mini celebration earlier than beginning the return journey.

Hikers stand in the distance on top of the summit of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
The summit of Half Dome

Hike Again to Comfortable Isles Trailhead

It took us virtually twice as lengthy to climb down the cables than to climb up them as a result of there have been numerous hikers arising. Following correct climbing etiquette, all the time yield to the uphill (or up-climbing) hikers.

As soon as I received down the cables, I couldn’t imagine what I simply did! The sensation was unimaginable. We had been all excited to return and revel in a scrumptious meal so the return journey felt prefer it flew by.

At Nevada Falls, we selected to do the longer John Muir Path because it was simpler on the knees.

I hope this information covers all the main points that may enable you plan your Half Dome climbing journey. As all the time, please comply with the Depart No Hint rules, don’t neglect to have enjoyable, take numerous footage, and have a secure, pleasant hike!

Do you will have any questions on climbing Half Dome? Depart them within the feedback beneath!

Bearfoot Theory | Embark on the adventure of a lifetime with our comprehensive guide to hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park! Our blog post will equip you with essential tips, the right gear recommendations, and insider advice on conquering this epic trail. Pin it now and prepare for an unforgettable journey with unmatched views of Yosemite Valley.

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