Yosemite Hiking

Yosemite is probably one of the prettiest places in California I have visited. It is best know for the half dome hike and its waterfalls.

Yosemite - Half Dome, Nevada Falls & Vernal Falls

Yosemite – Half Dome, Nevada Falls & Vernal Falls

The drive to Yosemite from South bay can take approximately 3-4 hours depending on stops you make along the way and the final destination.

The journey begins on highway 680 to 580 towards Tracy and then onto Highway 120 to Yosemite. Oakdale along the way is a good stop for petrol and a quick bite. It is a fairly big town and has all the fast food options as well as nice family restaurants.

Along Highway 120 you will find some steep windy roads and is single lane for a considerable amount of the journey. Leaving early in the morning will give you the least amount of traffic. For the trip this past memorial long weekend, we left at 5:30 and arrived around 11:00 am at Glacier point making a few stops along the way for photos.

The entrance fee is $20 for a seven day pass or $40 for an annual pass. There is also the option of an interagency pass for $80 which allows you to visit other federal national parks like the Rockies, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.

Glacier point is a popular destination because it has a view of Half Dome, Yosemite valley and is within walking distance from the parking lot. Parking is free but limited so arriving early will give you the best chance of finding a spot. They have restrooms near the parking lot but are not the cleanest and most of them don’t have running water. You will find a line for much of the day to use these services.

Our first hike was towards Illilouette Fall along the panoramic trail.  This hike is a 4 mile round trip from Glacier Point giving you a panoramic view of half dome. The above photo was taken about 1/3  of the way on the hike towards the fall. This hike took us approximately 3.5 hours to complete with many breaks.

Our second hike was towards Sentinel Dome which is a 3 mile round trip from Glacier Point. This hike is quite step in the middle but you are covered mostly in shade. Once you reach the top of Sentinel Dome you will find that it is quite windy but you do have a higher view of half dome as well as the upper and lower Yosemite falls. This journey took me about 1.5 hours to complete with many breaks as well.

We left Glacier point around 5:30 and the drive to the valley was relatively easy. Once you reach the bottom of the valley traffic will get heavy with everyone wanting to leave the area. It can be a little frustrating as you will have slow drivers admiring the views so you will need to be a little patient. Traffic will then ease up once the road stops becoming a one way street.Upon exiting you will need to show your entry pass again and from that point you should have a relatively smooth drive back towards San Francisco.


By Trung Tran

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