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Four Mile Trail

The Four Mile Trail in Yosemite National Park is a popular and spectacular hiking route that offers dramatic views of Yosemite Valley, the Sierra Nevada, and several of Yosemite’s famous landmarks. Despite its name, the Four Mile Trail actually spans approximately 4.8 miles one way, making for a round trip of about 9.6 miles. The trail connects Yosemite Valley with Glacier Point, an iconic overlook offering sweeping views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the High Sierra.

Trail Overview

Starting Point: The trail begins near the base of Sentinel Rock on Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley.
Ending Point: Glacier Point, one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in Yosemite National Park.

The trail climbs steeply from the valley floor to Glacier Point, ascending about 3,200 feet in elevation. It is a well-maintained path, but the hike is strenuous due to the significant elevation gain and the often sunny, exposed conditions.

Key Features and Highlights

Yosemite Valley Landmarks

  • The trail provides unobstructed views of some of Yosemite’s most famous features, including:
  • El Capitan: A massive granite monolith that dominates the western side of Yosemite Valley.
  • Yosemite Falls: The highest waterfall in North America, best viewed in the spring when it is at its fullest.
  • Half Dome: Perhaps the most iconic symbol of Yosemite, visible in all its glory from Glacier Point.

Dynamic Views

  • As you ascend, the perspective of Yosemite Valley continually changes, offering new angles and compositions, making it a favorite for photographers and nature lovers.

Hiking the Four Mile Trail

Difficulty and Preparation

  • The trail is considered strenuous due to its steep and continuous ascent. Proper preparation is essential, including adequate water, sun protection, and snacks. Hiking boots with good traction are recommended due to the occasionally slippery sections of the trail.

Best Time to Hike

  • The Four Mile Trail is generally open from May through November, weather permitting. The best time to hike is early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day and to experience the soft morning light on the granite cliffs.

Round Trip or One-Way

  • Hikers can choose to hike back down to the valley or take a one-way trip and return via the Yosemite Shuttle when it is in operation. Another popular option is to hike to Glacier Point and then continue to Sentinel Dome or Taft Point for an extended hike.

Environmental Considerations

  • As with all trails in Yosemite, it’s important to practice Leave No Trace principles. This includes packing out all trash, staying on the trail to prevent erosion, and being respectful of wildlife by observing from a distance.

Safety Tips

  • Weather Awareness: Weather in Yosemite can change rapidly. Check the forecast and prepare for varying conditions.
  • Hydration: Carry plenty of water, as there are no water sources along the trail.
  • Altitude Awareness: Be mindful of the elevation, as altitude sickness can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level.


The Four Mile Trail offers one of the most immersive ways to experience the majesty of Yosemite Valley. Ideal for those looking for a challenging day hike, it rewards hikers with some of the most stunning vistas in Yosemite National Park. Whether you’re aiming for a vigorous workout or a memorable photographic journey, the Four Mile Trail delivers a quintessential Yosemite experience.

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