I have dreamt of visiting a big National Park in America such as Yosemite since I was quite young and did some school projects on USA National Parks. So to say I was excited to visit is definitely an understatement.
Yosemite is one of those places you really have to plan. Accommodation is limited in Yosemite Valley and can sell out months in advance so I made sure I was well prepared to make the most of my time during my visit. The number one thing I wanted to do was make sure I saw as much of the breathtaking scenery and vistas as possible. This meant I needed to work out which day hike was the best to do.
After much research I worked out that The Panorama Trail is the best day hike to do in Yosemite. Not only does it give you incredible views from it’s starting location at Glacier Point but also takes you past Illiouette Fall, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall all of which run all year round. I was visiting in September so unfortunately Yosemite Falls had dried up.
The best way to do the trail is definitely catch the early morning bus up to Glacier Point and begin hiking down to the valley. I found that early in the morning the beginning of the trail was very quiet we passed only a handful of other people. Experiencing the trail on our own with no one else around added to the awe and silence of the place. Obviously as we started the trail at the top of Glacier Point it is mostly down hill walking towards the valley floor although there are a couple of inclines after Illiouette Fall. You should be prepared to get jelly legs!! It is quite hard going on the knees and calves but then to do the trail in the opposite direction would be even harder with all the going up hill.
My top tip:
Get the first bus up to Glacier Point in the morning whilst you can walk back down to the valley floor in 4-5 hours it took us around 7-8 hours with all the photo stops and a lunch stop. Yosemite is awesome you don’t want to rush the walk.
As I already mentioned The Panorama Trail is very quiet at the beginning however once you reach the top of Nevada Fall then it becomes much busier, as plenty of people just do the short hike up to the waterfalls and back from the valley floor. The other good thing about the Panorama Trail is that it gives you choices towards the end. You can take an easier route down to the valley floor via the John Muir Trail or take the incredibly steep steps and descent via the Mist Trail alongside Vernal Fall. Guess which one I went for?………… If you go for the Mist Trail make sure you have strong legs, mine are pretty good but they were starting to scream at me after such a steep descent and a full days hiking.
On Trail Tip:
It sounds obvious but don’t miss Panorama Point, it’s reached via an unsigned detour from the main trail. About 1km after crossing the bridge at Illioutte Fall you will see a detoured path cutting through a group of Mazanita trees. Be careful though there seems to have been a lot of land slips and rockfalls at this point which is why the trail doesn’t come this way any more. Great scenery and views though!
Overall I am confident I definitely picked the best day hike in Yosemite. The Panorama trail includes so many places to stop on the way has some great waterfalls and photo opportunities too. It is an absolute must do if you are a day hiker or short on time of doing an overnight hike in the wilderness.
The trip to Yosemite was everything I expected and more – It’s impossible to say in words how the place made me feel but hiking in the wilderness and being so close to nature is one of the greatest feelings ever.
You can discover more about Yosemite on the US National Park Service website – http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm