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Yosemite National Park: Half Dome at Full Moon

ca

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 7.1 miles


Let the soft light of a full moon guide your way to Yosemite's most iconic granite peak on this 14.2-mile out-and-back.
  • Cable Ascent
  • Moonlit Climb
  • Sunrise View
  • Vernal Falls

This 14.2-mile trek to Half Dome—under the guiding light of a full moon—gains more than 4,000 feet of elevation. Make sure to turn off your headlamp and marvel at the starry skies.

From Happy Isles campground, turn right on the paved path and cross Vernal Falls Bridge. Pass Illilouette Falls Vista, where Yosemite, Illilouette, Vernal, and Nevada Falls can be seen simultaneously. Merge onto the 3-mile Mist Trail and watch your footing on the trail's sometimes-slick granite (raingear will come in handy by the waterfalls on this trip).

Keep left at the Y-junction after Vernal Falls and continue along the Merced River. Once you reach the Y-junction at Yosemite Valley, turn left up the John Muir Trail. After about 2 miles, bear left onto Half Dome Trail. From here, grab giant cables to climb the last stretch up Half Dome to (if you've timed it right) a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise view.

-Mapped by Kip Evans

PERMITS: Starting in May 2010, the park will require a Day Use Permit to hike the cables on Half Dome. A maximum of 400 permits will be issued each day (300 of these permits are available to dayhikers). For details, go to http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm

MORE INFO: Yosemite National Park, (209) 372-020; nps.gov/yose/

Trail Reviews & Comments

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
rbjones
Jan 06, 2013

Thanks for a different perspective and a viable strategy for doing what has become a bucket list item for masses of people who have rarely hiked anywhere else in their lives. A moonlit night may be the only way I'll ever do Half Dome. Staring at the rear ends of hundreds of gasping people ponderously dragging themselves up on a cable over bare rock isn't my idea of backpacking. There are other trails in Yosemite that will give you a much better view of the valley and much more solitude if that's what you're after. Half Dome is a an overused and abused trail.

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