Yosemite NP – 4 Miles Trail to Glacier Point


What? : The view from Glacier Point is one of the most rewording view you will see in Yosemite NP, this trail will lead you from the valley floor to the Glacier Point located at the top of the cliffs above.

The beauty of this trail is not only because of the rewording view from the top of the mountain but in addition, once you climb above the valley floor tree level you get to see amazing view of Yosemite Falls on the other side of the valley. If that is not enough, the view from this trail to the west is breathtaking, the Yosemite Valley opening with El Capitan on one side and Cathedral Rocks on the other.

This is stenose hike, out and back (assume you are not using shuttle), and unlike it name it is almost 5 miles long one way with 3,700 ft elevation gain.


Important note: Glacier Point Road is close to any traffic during 2022, will be open at late spring of 2023.


Where? : The Four Mile Trailhead is located on the right side of main valley road, after Sentinel Beach and before Swinging Bridge Picnic Area.

If the roadside parking is full (in the locations, you can park the car) you can park near Swinging Bridge and hike back to the trailhead.

Google Map Link


When? : Spring, Summer up to late Fall.

In the winter the Four Mile Trail is closed.

You can have snowstorm late spring when the trail is open, at that trail condition it is highly recommended to have snow/ice grips to your shoes. You may encounter challenging deep snow cliff-hanging sections in the upper trail, hopefully someone open the trail for you. You can find a close gate, check at the visitor center for trail conditions.

The best timing to view Yosemite Falls from this trail is during spring month when the snow is melting.

Late summer month the Yosemite Falls is almost dry and may have smoke from wildfires in the Sierra and the park, the smoke tends to accumulate in the valleys.

Late fall this trail provide the nice fall colors view in the valley below.

Due note 1: For 2022 summer Glacier Point Road is close to car aces but there is no limitation for hiking to this location.


Due note 2: Glacier Point Road is close to car aces during winter months, check at the below web site for road conditions.

Link to parkroad information


Due note 3: Plan your hiking time that may vary according to your fitness level. It will take you 3-5 hours to hike up to Glacier Point and 2-3 hours to walk down.


Due note 4: This trail is very popular and usually crowded, you will see indication of the load according to the number of parked cars at the trailhead.


Due note 5: One way option: in years when the shuttle bus is in service you can take the early morning shuttle to Glacier Point, enjoy Half Dome view, and then hike the 5-mile-long trail down to the valley floor.


Due note 6: Restrooms: You have restrooms at the Swinging Bridge parking lot and when Glacier point is open you can find restrooms in the upper parking lot.


Due note 7: There are few drinking water sources along the trail, but you probably want to filter them before drinking them.


Due note 8: For most of your hike you will be at the shadow of the mountains above you, this is excellent at hot summer day but can be cold on chilly early spring day.


Due note 9: You need to understand that when the road is open Glacier Point is one of the most crowded places in Yosemite, the view is beautiful even with the crewed.


Due note 10: Near Glacier Point parking lot there is a gift shop, you can buy here snacks, or water or use the bathrooms.


Due note 11: You may see Black Bears in Yosemite, but they really be dangerous or aggressive, Bear Spray is illegal to carry in Yosemite (and in California).


Due note 12: Although this is mostly shaded trail in clear sky sunny days sunscreen is highly recommended.


Due note 13: In early summer bring mosquitoes repellent with you.


Due note 14: You may have here a good cell phone coverage.


Due note 15: Dogs are not allowed on most trails in Yosemite National Park.



My thoughts: I only hiked this trail once, right after late spring snowstorm and I enjoy it very much.

This is steep hike, but I found it to be not so difficult, constant grade and good solid trail. The trail climbs the tall valley cliff with countless number of switchbacks. You start your hike at the valley floor and soon you find yourself above the trees enjoying the view of the valley west entrance and the tall Yosemite Waterfalls on the other side of the valley.

Only once you will reach the end of the hike, to Glacier Point, you will be able to see and enjoy the view of Half Dome from the viewing deck.

The Hike:


The Four Mile Trail was first built in 1872, and you had to pay for it $1. This is the reason why it is in relatively good shaped, well-built and with relatively consistent manageable gradient. The trail was modified in the early 1920s, extended to 4.8 miles. Once you add to this length the short walk to Glacier Point itself and you will get to 5 miles one-way hike.


You will start the climb almost immediately after leaving the trailhead. At the valley floor you will pass few large boulders and the stone-made trail start to climb the cliff.

At first you will walk in a dense forest where the trail switch back and gain more elevation, once you climbed above the valley pine tree line you will start to get glimpse of the valley view.

After walking for about 0.7 miles and gaining 500 ft elevation the trail keeps climbing but moderately and without switchbacks. In this section of the trail, especially in locations without trees you will see the amazing Yosemite Falls. From this trail you can actually see the 3 separate waterfall sections on the other side of the valley,

as you progress with your hike the view change.

After 1 mile from the starting point, when Sentinel Rock is towering above you, the trail cross a small stream with an open section and a good view to the other side of the valley.

After 1.3 miles from the starting point, you will start another long series of switchbacks. When you want/need to take a rest look back to the valley opening (“reverse tunnel view” to the west), and you will see how the view of El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks landscape change as you climb and gain more and more elevation.


After 2.9 miles you will see a trail turning to the right, this side trail will lead you to Union Point, you can walk there now or on your way down, the view here is nice but not specially amazing.


The trail relentlessly keeps climbing up the cliff, but this section is with long gradual switchbacks. Here the trail climbs up the Sentinel Dome Mountain base, here there are sections of switchbacks that cut into the cliff wall.

When I hiked here after major spring storm it was a little challenging to cross this section, deep snow piles cover the trail completely and the narrow path hanging above the hundreds of feet cliffs.

At some point the trail start to bend to the right and you can have the first glimpse of Half Dome and the Tenaya Valley views.


After almost 4 miles of constant climbing the trail start to level up and get away from the cliff into pines forest with large trees, additional 0.5 miles of walking will bring you to Glacier Point Trail.

Turn left and you will soon reach the Glacier Point cliff viewing platform.


Here you will be reworded by an amazing view of Half Dome in front of you, the Valley Floor thousands of feet below you and Yosemite Falls on your right and Merced River canyon and Nevada Falls down on the left side of Half dome.


If this is your first time here, I promise you that you will be amaze by this magnificent nature view, one of the best views in the world.


This is the place to rest, eat and drink and just enjoy the view.


Now you need to hike back all the way down to the valley, it will be much easier, and on your way back you will see the view from a different perspective.

Because this trail does not have a lot of steps it is relatively easy on your knees going down.


After 6-9 hours from the start of your hike, depending on your hiking abilities and how long you rested at the top you will arrive back to the trail head. You will probably feel your legs but I’m sure that the views you saw in this hike will stay with you forever.


If you still want to do some more walking than the Swinging Bridge Picnic Area is not far away and it always nice to see the Merced River and Yosemite Falls, this time from below.



More Pictures: