Four Mile Trail

Four Mile Trail, Yosemite National Park: Address, Four Mile Trail Reviews: 4.5/5

Four Mile Trail
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212 reviews
Very good

San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala50 contributions
We only spent 1 day in Yosemite Park and this was our first hike. While it's says '4 miles' it is actually closer to 5 miles to get to the summit at Glacier Point, an elevation climb of 3,200 feet.There are other connecting hikes you can do to further extend this, which we didn't have timefor.

We started at 10.20am, later than we had hoped because the YARTS shuttle bus was very late and took a long time to get to the village. The weather was favourable, cloudy and mild which really helped. We carried 1.5L of water each plus some energy bars.

There were very few people on this hike so felt like we had the place to ourselves.The road tourists previously used to get straight to the viewpoint at Glacier Point had been closed for resurfacing, which luckily meant very few tourists.

The climb up is tough but views are absolutely breathtaking. You can see both Yosemite falls, El Capitan and Half dome as you make your way up plus the Reverse Tunnel view. We managed to reach the summit at Glacier point in 1 hour 38mins - which we were ecstatic about after being told 2.5-3.5 hours is the usual time taken to go up. The view from the top is worth the time and effort and a lovely place to sit, eat a picnic lunch and relax. We could have spent hours there but decided to decend back down.

We descended in 1hr 31mins stopping off at another viewpoint a third of the way down.

Overall a fantastic experience surrounded by jawdropping scenery!
Written August 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Beverly Hills, CA32 contributions
This was a strenuous and rewarding hike! This was my first hike while visiting Yosemite for the first time!! I love morning hikes as there is less traffic and you really get to enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature. I arrived at 8am on Saturday morning and found plenty of parking along the road. You will see the sign ‘four miles trail’ from the road. Started the hike at 8:10am. This is a steep steady incline of a hike with constant switchbacks all the way up. This is also more closer to a 5 mile hike and that’s one way all the way up so coming down you would be doing close to 10 miles in total. Halfway up I got a bit freaked out doing a solo hike as i thought I would see more hikers than I actually did. I only saw 4 people while I was going up. I also am afraid of heights with certain things so there were definitely some points where I was as close to the rocks as I could be. When I thought about going back, my body just turned around with determination and continued onward, so glad I did!! It was very rewarding when I reached the top. The views are magnificent and you get a great view of half dome. Be prepared to see quite a few people at the top as there are tour buses that drive people to the top of glacier point. I stayed up here to have snacks and enjoy the views. They have a filling station for water that was working thankfully.
Made it up in 2hrs 35 minutes, very happy with my time! I’m 44 and I work out 5-6 days a week, mainly strength training. The way up is definitely all glutes, hamstrings and calves. The way down, you would think would be a lot quicker but I took my time as it’s very steep and there’s loose gravel and you can definitely slip. The way down is all quads. Got back to my car at 2:20pm. I saw some people struggling half mile into the hike when I was coming down. I definitely told them to go another day when it’s early morning as it was all sun when they were starting and hot! When I started it was 68-70 degrees, when I finished it was 95 degrees. It was also all shade on the way up and all sun on the way down. Didn’t get to see Yosemite falls as there were none but you do get amazing views. My body wasn’t sore the next day but 2 days later…ouch… after ending up also doing 2 hikes the next day after this one.

What I brought…drank about 2.5 liters of water, I add lemon slices to my water for vitamins, BCAA’s. Apple, clementines, a meal bar, gum, sunscreen, lip moisturizer (helps when you’re thirsty), money as the have a shop you can buy snacks at the top but I was good with what I brought, a hand towel- I put this on my shoulders and held it with my backpack draped on my shoulders, helped out sooo much since it was all sun on the way down.

Happy to say I conquered this one! Would I do it again? Probably not as there are many other hikes I would like to try when I come back to Yosemite. But this was definitely a great way to start my visit and being my first hike I’ve done in Yosemite! It was a beast!
Written July 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Melrose, MA8 contributions
None of the reviews online mention the current conditions, so please read this. Yes, the valley views are breathtaking from Four-Mile Trail! However, we do not recommend hiking Four-Mile trail from the top, Glacier Point, to the base. Hiking UP is definitely safer, but this warning is valid in both directions. This review is intended so readers will be safer & more prepared, in either direction.

CURRENT CONDITIONS: This trail appears not to have been maintained in over 20 years. There was a crazy attempt to pave it many years ago. Now, most of its 4.8-mile length consists of stretches of sand interspersed with annoying, cracked, broken chunks of 20-year-old old asphalt covered with gravel and rockfall. A treacherous combination, where slipping & sliding can happen with every step. The numerous switchbacks are not the problem, they are sandy and easily navigable in the downhill direction. It’s the straight sections, where an accidental slip on the unstable surface could result in a deadly fall off the precipice. We completed the entire length downhill, which should have met the expectation of a rating of 1 or 2 difficulty (like Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon) but due to the poor condition of the surface, took us 4+ hours to the base. (not 2 hours, as described)

SUGGESTIONS TO PARK MANAGEMENT: these were sent to the park superintendent. Hopefully the management will be responsive & take action to improve safety and encourage more use of this beautiful trail:

• Each year, some section should be examined, raked, and repaired
• All asphalt chunks should be removed, and filled with earth
• Posted mile markers would be essential for such a long trail (there was only one marker)
• Published descriptions should be updated, more accurately describing this trail
• Signs should be posted at Glacier Point as well as at the base, describing the conditions, such as “Warning: 4.8 miles downhill does not mean it’s easy, due to broken surface”
• Time expectation for downhill hike should be adjusted to 4 hours, in order for hikers to safely make it down in time for last shuttle bus pick-up of the day (Beware: inaccurate signage at the Four-Mile Trail shuttle bus stop. Last pick up is around 5:00pm.)

The park administration has a duty to prevent accidental deaths when simple measures could be taken. If you agree, please send a note to the Superintendent of Yosemite NP.

Four-Mile Trail provided unique views of Yosemite Valley that were unmatched, and will linger in our memories forever. However, due to the unexpected poor trail conditions, we would discourage anyone from taking it entirely DOWNHILL at this time. If you’re planning to hike UPHILL even part of the distance, be very, very cautious, and definitely don’t get lazy on the way back down! Take your time, your life depends on it.
Written June 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Shannon T
Atlanta, GA191 contributions
The 4 mile trail (which is really more like 5 miles each way) was the highlight of our Yosemite trip. We stayed in the Half Dome Village and took the bus as close as we could get to the trailhead. The trail head is pretty easy to find. You begin the hike in the trees, then bust out of the forrest w/ an AMAZING view...then its switchbacks for days. Once you reach Glacier point, there is plenty of snacks and merchandise galore- but the best part is the amazing view! The snacks at the top (read: ice cream) were a great motivator for our kids to keep going.

Technically, you can take your chances and see if one of the busses has room for a drive down rather than hiking back down. With the way that the bus schedule works, this was too much of a gamble for me. It there had been no room (last bus of the day) we would have potentially not made it off the trail by dark. Besides, going back down is a completely different experience! We did see several people who took the morning bus up and then hiked back down. This is certainly an option, but going up is such a cool experience.

Our group included me, my husband, and our 3 kiddos, ages 12, 10, and 5. Yes, our 5 year old was able to do this hike (up and back down) w/ no problem. However, we are avid hikers and had prepared for this in the appalachian mountains, which are not far from our home. Likewise, we live at the base of a mountain north of Atlanta, GA that has 800 feet of almost immediate elevation gain, which we do many times per week.

We brought our camelbak bags w/ us (all 5 of us carried one) full of water and also brought lunch from one of the stores in Half Dome Village. It took us about 3 hours to get up the trail and a little less than 3 hours to get back down. This will stand out for years as one of our best family experiences.
Written December 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kiama, Australia2,171 contributions
Stone the crows trendsetters! Reading the reviews down page has made my head hurt. A lot say how tough the 4 MILE is, some the opposite.
I’m a geezer and did the uphill trek a few weeks short of my 70th, and found it a walk in the park. Um….well that’s literally what it was (YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK)… let’s say I found it an EASY walk in the park.
Sure, I’m a very fit geezer and I did some extra preparation which I will outline down page, but if I can do it easily I’m sure a lot of you can manage it without too much effort.
Let me say at the outset than compared to a lot of other trails I was on in the same week, the 4 MILE slopes never went above my "MODERATE" rating (above that I have "STEEP", "VERY STEEP", "HEARTBREAKER" and "DON’T SEND FLOWERS"), and the surface was never particularly difficult underfoot.

I ascended the 4 MILE as the first section of a much bigger trek – up to GLACIER POINT, followed by a side walk to/from SENTINEL DOME, and then the PANORAMA TRAIL back to the valley bottom near Curry Village.
This is a loong walk at 16.4miles/26.2km. The whole thing took me over 10 hours Fair bit of climbing/descending too. The valley floor is 4000ft/1120m above sea level. Highest point is at SENTINEL DOME - 8127ft/2477m, meaning lowest to highest is a difference of 4127ft/1258m
GLACIER POINT is pretty high too at 7214ft/2199m. The vertical climb from the valley floor on the 4 MILE is 3200ft/975m. You do this over a distance of 4.7m/7.5km.

0915 - I was lucky to get one of the last parking spots in the roadside area opposite the trailhead, which is on SOUTHSIDE DRIVE, the major route from the park entrance to YOSEMITE VILLAGE. This was on a Saturday morning in the August school holidays. If you miss out on a park here the best bet would be to head on a few km to one of the village's big parking lots and catch the free EL CAPITAN shuttle bus which drops off at the trailhead. There is a bigger picnic parking spot off the main road a short distance before my parking lot, but the one- way SOUTHSIDE-NORTHSIDE DRIVES mean a 20+km trip to get back there. If you are running late maybe check it first on the way in.
I hit the trail at 0947 after a false 0930 start - I left my hiking poles leaning against the front fender - DUH!

The first 5 minutes of the trail are along the valley flat. When the climb begins the slopes are pretty moderate and seldom get steeper the whole way. There is no section I'd class as steep although less fit dudes like my circumferrentialy-enhanced internet friend Kananga, the only man (still alive**) who can hoover a 12inch/300mm coconut-cream pie in under 35 seconds, may disagree.
**might have something to do with his sensational squeeze - the super sensual Siam Soonay who is the CPR champion of central Kranji - as I pointed out on my Grand Canyon report, this scintillating sweetheart has given the kiss of life almost as often as a pash of passion.

The surface of the lower trail and some of the upper-most section is badly broken bitumen - may have been sealed to assist wheelchairs but even when in good condition the slopes would demand an Olympic-class wheelchair athlete or a big super-fit pusher (put that wheelchair away Kananga - Soonay aint a big dude). The broken/discontinuous surface now makes it impossible for wheelchairs. Skaters should shelve any plans of fanging down-hill – sure, they would get some serious air at the end of each section but the “discontinuous” part would make the landings a bummer.
At the same time this surface is not a difficult one to walk - ditto unsealed central areas of the track which are relatively smooth underfoot. Shaded by trees and cliffs over 50% of the way. There were few stairs, mainly single. A moderate number of trekkers heading up, but not crowded. Few descending - may be more later in day.

About a mile up the track the forest clears a bit and you start to get some nice views of the valley.
A bit higher gives a reverse TUNNEL VIEW of the main valley to the west. The classic U shape of the glacier-cut valley comes out well here. The famous El CAPITAN of climbing fame can be seen on the valley’s northern wall.
Higher still on the trail starts many outlooks of the LOWER and UPPER YOSEMITE FALLS. Apparently there are very few other valley outlooks where you can see both falls. There was absolutely no water falling - these falls are normally dry by September but California's prolonged drought saw same in my earlier August visit.

I reached GLACIER POINT at 1231. That's 2 3/4 hours for the 4.7mile/7.5km climb - an average of 1.7mph/3.1kph, faster than my roughly equivalent (steepness and length) Bright Angel Trail route out of the Grand Canyon - maybe because the 4 MILE was at the START of my trek and considerably cooler.
GLACIER POINT was quite crowded - on account of the carpark only 200m away.
There is a cafeteria and gift shop up here. WCs of course plus a spot to refill water bottles - covered by bees when I called by. Not for long.
One of the two viewpoints has a good outlook of the valley floor around CURRY VILLAGE of camping/other accommodation fame.
The other viewpoint with an outlook towards the northern face of the valley was pretty special too. HALF DOME, highest point on the northern wall was mid left, and the spectacular TENAYA CANYON glacier-cut hanging valley to its left. To the right were NEVADA FALLS and VERNAL FALLS, still flowing. I'd be doing the excruciating descent alongside them about 6 hours later.

I was feeling so good at the top of the trail I continued my uphill waltz to the considerably higher SENTINEL DOME with only a minimal stop at GLACIER POINT (I spent more time there on the way down).
Could a fit person do the 4 Mile without my extra preparation? Easy.
Could a person of normal fitness (which these days is pretty unfit) do it? I think so, but lots of stops would be needed and they might suffer next day.
Could a Kananga do it? No chance. The circumferencially enhanced Kranji Kid needs two breathers on the 6 steps up to his preferred Prue's Parisian Patisserie on the Payoh promenade.

THE REVERSE TRIP - quite a few people ride up via the looong road access and walk down. I reckon even unfit people could manage this (maybe not the grossly unfit). It is not so steep and rough that it is a knee-wrecker so people without serious knee/hip problems should have little difficulty. But cut those toe nails - even ordinary length nails can get miserably sore banging up against the front of shoes on prolonged down-slopes. Even in well-fitting shoes. Don’t ask how I know this.

As said, I’m a geezer - with dodgy knees from too much jogging back in the day, some arthritic lumps on my feet plus a few gnarly toe nails. Fortunately I’m very fit from daily cycling and swimming. But I’m not a regular trekker and have no experienced of hiking at high altitudes (quite a few websites warn about altitude sickness in higher areas of Yosemite).
So I worked on my trekking with some pretty hard one to four hour walks around my super hilly home town every second day loaded down with about a gallon (4 L) of water and some eats (note I carried only 2L up the 4 MILE on account of it being a cooler day and a much shorter distance to the first water stop than on my Grand Canyon
gallop where I had the full 4L)
I have to tell you, 4L of water is heavy. At the end of 3 weeks I was so fit I could have hosted a posse of pole dancers without a blip in the pulse rate. Well maybe a slight lift. Okay, I’m kidding – call Nurse Betty, the ol’ pump would be banging so hard it would fritz the sensors in my Fitbit.
I invested in a mid-range pair of hiking shoes and some good hiking socks, plus a set of hiking poles. The poles are great on really steep and/or rough trails – I don’t think their assistance outweighed their weight (strewth – read that again!) on the 4 MILE going UP, but people with bad knees/hips may find them a help going down.
Altitude proved no problem, maybe because in the week before Yosemite I had spent a fair bit of time trekking at similar altitudes around the GRAND CANYON and FLAGSTAFF and had hiked past the 10000ft mark on MT WHITNEY ( I didn’t go the full way to the summit because I lacked the necessary permit to go past LONE PINE LAKE).
Written November 22, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Pat G
Windsor and Maidenhead, UK184 contributions
We decided on a long walk and wanted to get away from the crowds and see some other views than those of the picture postcards

Family of 5 with kids 13, 11 and 8. Used to walks of 1 to 2 hours, all reasonably fit but nothing of this scale

Having tried to find out about the route and suitability for families thought I would put a few details that may help others

In summary - an astonishing walk with incredible scenery and a perfect family experience. We were all a little tired and sore in evening but all look back as a highlight of the holiday

We set off 9.15am at the foot of four mile trail and took 2hr 45 Mins to glacier point. Stopping a few times for photos and water and a snack
Took an hour and a bit for a picnic at glacier point
The panorama trail took about 4 hours 20 mins down to the bus stop including a lot of water stops and some time at the falls.
We walked steadily but not over fast

Conditions and Paths
Conditions were good. 28 Celsius and hadn’t rained for days
The glacier point path is pretty easy on way up. Wide well maintained and easy walking.
The panorama trail is a little less wide and maintained but still ok. It’s mainly sandy
The trail down from Nevada Falls is less well maintained. Often some rocks in the path to be avoided. With sore feet was quite a chore. It gets very well maintained further down at the bottom

Our preparation
We had deliberately chosen not to bring serious hiking gear as we coming from UK and next stop was Hawaii
So we walked in gym gear and gym trainers
Took large day ruck sac with provision.
Take a lot of water. We had 1 per person litres all drank by top of glacier point.good news is can refill there. I would advise at least 2 litres per person for panorama. It is exposed to the sun
Take hats and sun cream
If you want, take a picnic. But food available at glacier point

Just incredible.
El Capitan on way up first part, then yosemite falls, then half dome close up
The view at glacier point is a highlight but jam
Packed with tourists so we took our picnic off to some rocks with a view and ate there
Panorama trail starts with constant and ever evolving view of half dome.
Down to a river where we paddled and rested for a while
Nevada falls is spectacular and if you are brave paddle upstream. Lovely site to rest
Last part of the trail in the woods doesn’t have much view and when tired is a bit of a slog.

The end
We got to the bus stop which had a huge queue.
My daughter and I chose to walk back to hotel (majestic) but rest of family took them 2 buses to get a space. So factor into your planning

I hope this helps any of you who read it.


Written September 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Fleming Island, FL537 contributions
What a beautiful trail! If you are walking from the shuttle stop no 7, it will take you 5.4 miles to the Glacier Point. Maintained very well; just a steady climb and absolutely beautiful. People with fear of heights can do this with no problem (wide shoulders and no steep drop offs). Took my husband and I 2.5 hrs to complete and we stopped plenty of times for pictures. We started early at 9 am and there was hardly anyone on it. Recommend.
Written May 29, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Elk Grove, CA24,763 contributions
The Four Mile Trail was originally four miles but is now 4.8 miles from the Yosemite Valley floor to Glacier Point due to a rerouting. I wish they would rename it as Almost Five Mile Trail or Wish It Was Four Mile Trail.

I hiked up to Glacier Point from the Valley. Took me about 4 hours. I am in my 50's. It has a constant grade. Ascending 3200 feet over 4.8 miles. Basically a grade of about 8:1 - 1 foot gain for every 8 feet walked. I just felt as if I drove a car up a mountain, put on the second gear at the foot of the mountain, and never got a chance to shift to third gear until near Glacier Point.

I was expecting to find many steps, but was surprised to see very few. It was quite something. I thought I might be catching a break with some leveled areas or some steps (at least, with steps it's easier). No. One long and "seemingly gentle" slope. Mostly a long ramp, and paved or almost paved for a long stretch. If you bring your hiking poles, you probably would rarely use them.

What I do like about this trail: it is quite shady. The mountains and trees block most of the mid-morning sun, making it quite cool to walk on even on a summer day, unlike some trails on granite face with no shade – such as Mount Hoffmann or Hetch Hetchy (feel like walking in a furnace).

The trail is quite wide. Though there isn't any railing on the side, you typically would be walking far from the edge. And there are trees between the trail and the cliff face, if any. There are only a few short stretches that you see sharp drops next to the trail.

You can see the Upper Yosemite Falls (that trail goes up about 2200 feet) across the valley floor at a distance. I constantly used it as a marker to estimate how high up I'd climbed. Oh, I am on top of the lower falls... oh I am in the cascade area... oh I am about as high as the top of the upper falls... and beyond.

Don’t miss the small detour to Union Point (follow the sign). It is a sight-seeing spot about two-thirds of the way up. You can have a panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley.

Walking down would certainly be much easier than up. I reckon that it probably takes only half the time. I myself proceeded on to the Panorama Trail, to Neveda Fall, Vernal Fall, and descended to Happy Isle via the Mist Trail, which took me about 6 hours from Glacier Point back down to Yosemite Valley. If you walk down the Four Mile Trail, it would only take you about 2 hours or so to the Valley floor.
Written July 23, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Arlington Heights, IL117 contributions
The 4 mile trail is one of my favorite assents from the Yosemite Valley Floor. It also provides a great op for some great picture taking along the way (especially when linked with the Panorama trail).

Ok…it’s actually 4.8 miles from the trailhead (located a few hundred yards from the Swinging Bridge) to the top at Glacier Point. What I love about the hike? Great views the entire way up and GET THIS…you’re in the shade the whole way up (assuming you start at first light). Starting at dawn, ensures you a nice cool accent, avoidance of crowds and great serenity. Ahhhhhhh. Remember to bring about 48 ounces of water for the 3,200ft climb.

Ok…you’ve now reached Glacier Point (& are once again inundated with tourists….ekkkk). Are you going to head back down the same old trail…you just navigated. Over course NOT. You’re going to refill your water container(s) & continue on the Panoramic trail…it’s a little longer (8.5 miles) but you’re getting new views and about 1.5 miles of additional climbing. Who cares..who’ve spent plenty of time on the Stairmaster...your in shape! Besides…you can buy some additional trail mix at the Glacier Point store for the trip down!

You’ll add some great shots of Half Dome (frame by silhouetted trees) along the way and have the op to capture some great shots of Vernal and Nevada falls on the way down.
Once you reach the bottom of the trail…it’s a quick bus ride back to the Swinging Bridge Stop (and a few hundred yards to your car..if parked at the 4 Mile Trailhead).
Written October 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Stockholm, Sweden52 contributions
We hiked from the bottom and up to the Glacier point. If you don´t have any ailment I can recommend for you to go from the bottom up, it is not hard to walk but give you a bit of a pulse. But then you just pause some minuts, take the breath and enjoy the view.

For us it took about 2 hours and it was worth it. Every view was amazing and for every turn on the path it just got better and better the higher you came up. This was some of the best hike I have done.

After enjoying a coffee and the view at Glacier Point we continued on the Panorama trail and Mist trail.

We parked the car at the beginning of the 4 mile trail and then we took the free shuttle buss from the end of Mist trail back to stop 6 where we walked the last 200 m back to the car.
Written October 23, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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