Yosemite National Park: Four Mile Trail to Mist Trail 

Sample the best Yosemite has to offer on this tough, 13.3-mile hike John Muir himself recommended.


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Author: themapeditor
Date: 26 Jan 2011 5:55:11 PM
Source: GPX file
Activity: Hiking
State: California (CA)
Distance: 13.16 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 6073 ft
Total Loss: 6027 ft
Net Change: 47 ft
Difficulty: 5 / 10
Tags: California, Curry Village, Yosemite National Park
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

 

This must-do tour of Yosemite’s granite and whitewater highlights is so breathtaking, the park’s godfather, John Muir himself, specifically recommended it as the area’s premier dayhike. But the nation’s best views can attract big crowds; hit Muir’s route on a weekday in June before summer season peaks, or wait until after Labor Day.

Begin the 13.3- mile horseshoe at the Four Mile trailhead beneath Sentinel Rock and grind up 3,200 feet on more than 40 switchbacks as the morning sun sets the valley walls aglow. Catch your breath at Glacier Point while you peer into the valley from your 3,000-foot-tall perch, surrounded by the glacier-hewn faces of Half Dome, Royal Arches, the Three Brothers, and El Capitan. Descend the Panorama Trail toward the quiet of Illilouette Basin and the rumbling of two of Yosemite’s most famous waterfalls: Nevada and Vernal.

Muir recommended resting your legs beside the cascades before following the Merced River down toward “the stupendous scenery into the heart of which the white passionate river goes wildly thundering, surpassing everything of its kind in the world.” Enough said.


PLAN IT
GUIDEBOOK AND MAP
The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite National Park, 6th Edition ($12.95, yosemitegifts.com). Consult the time-tested authority on Yosemite, or plan other trips in the park using BACKPACKER’s Destination’s page (backpacker.com/destinations/category/206). Get around the park using Yosemite’s free shuttle service (nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/valleyshuttle.pdf).

FEES/PERMITS To enter park: $20 per car, $10 per pedestrian/ bicyclist. Pass is valid for seven days. Backcountry permits are required for all overnight stays from May through October. Reservations for a permit can be obtained no earlier than 24 weeks before the first night of your stay. Permits cost $5 per reservation and $5 per person in the party. Depending on availability, permits can also be obtained at the wilderness center on the day of your trip.

CONTACT
Call the Wilderness Permit Office at (209) 372-0740; nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm

CONDITIONS Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120) is closed between October and May. Water is available along the trail at mile 2.8, mile 3.8, mile 5.4 (seasonal), mile 7.9, mile 11.7, mile 13, and mile 14.4.

GPS DATA Download tracks and waypoints, print or order custom topos, from the menu on the left.

LOCAL LINKS
GAS
LEE VINING: CHEVRON
51557 Highway 395
Lee Vining, CA 93541
(760) 647-6330

 

GROVELAND: CLAIM JUMPER OUTPOST
17586 Highway 120
Groveland-Big Oak Flat, CA 95305
(209) 962-7153

GEAR
MAMMOTH MOUNTAINEERING SUPPLY
3189 Main St.
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
(888) 395-3951

GROCERIES

EL PORTAL: EL PORTAL MARKET
10913 Highway 140
El Portal, CA 95318
(209) 379-2700

MAMMOTH LAKES: VONS
481 Old Mammoth Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA
(760) 934-4536

RESTAURANTS
MAMMOTH LAKES: ANGEL’S RESTAURANT
20 Sierra Blvd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
(760) 934-7427

CURRY VILLAGE: DEGNAN’S DELI
9015 Village Dr.
Curry Village, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
(290) 372-8454

LEE VINING: NICELY’S RESTAURANT
Highway 395 and 4th St.
Lee Vining, CA 93541
(760) 647-6477

-Text: Brian Beer. Map and photographs: Jeff Chow

TO TRAILHEAD: For a shuttle from Yosemite Lodge, call Glacier Point Shuttle (209) 372-4FUN. From CA 41 N, turn right at Glacier Point Rd. and follow for 15.4 miles. Parking is at end of road.

Position Format: Datum:
Tracks

Yosemite National Park, CA: Four Mile Trail to Mist Trail

Distance: 13.16 mi Points: 1187
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest

YOS001

Location: 37.734067, -119.601750
Four Mile Trailhead along Southside Drive.

YOS002

Location: 37.731833, -119.600917
Reach a popular bouldering spot at the valley floor.

YOS003

Location: 37.729500, -119.599333
Reach a large rock pile and turn left.

YOS004

Location: 37.732202, -119.594636
Tumbling Cascades. Bask in the cool glory of a gurgling brook intersecting the trail.

YOS005

Location: 37.732376, -119.594636
Step over a small stream cutting across the trail, then pass through a grove of black oaks.

YOS006

Location: 37.734900, -119.593067
View of Yosemite Falls, which are fed by snow, and thus most spectacular in springtime. The falls become more faint as summer stretches on.

YOS007

Location: 37.735583, -119.587917
In particularly narrow stretches, the slopes above and below the trail are reinforced with rock.

YOS008

Location: 37.735050, -119.585800
The Four Mile Trail slices across narrow cliff walls while ascending out of the Yosemite Valley.

YOS009

Location: 37.734238, -119.587212
Turn right for a quick spur to Union Point, which offers closer vistas of Yosemite Falls.

YOS010

Location: 37.732389, -119.584122
Grab magnificent valley views. The switchbacks are over!

YOS011

Location: 37.732483, -119.581517
Overhang. The Four Mile Trail traces sheer cliff edges while meandering uphill.

YOS012

Location: 37.729200, -119.576133
White firs and sugar pines comprise the towering forest shroud the upper reaches of Four Mile Trail.

YOS013

Location: 37.730717, -119.573583
Reach world-class vistas from Glacier Point, perched precipitously atop Yosemite Valley's sky-scraping South Wall. Half Dome looms majestically to the northeast, while Nevada and Vernal Falls can be seen above the confluence of the Illilouette Gorge and Merced River to the east. Curry Village is carved into the valley floor directly north, Yosemite Falls plunge from the valley's North Wall, and the Clarke Range spans the southeast horizon.

YOS014

Location: 37.727753, -119.573296
Turn left onto the Panorama Trail.

YOS015

Location: 37.726143, -119.573157
Eastern view of Yosemite with Half Dome and Nevada Falls in the background.

YOS016

Location: 37.718794, -119.569659
Giant Staircase. The steps of Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls make up the Giant Staircase. Half Dome, Grizzly Peak, Sierra Point, Mt. Broderick, and Liberty Cap line the Northeastern side of the Merced River.

YOS017

Location: 37.710041, -119.565147
Bear left at the Y-junction. Descend on the dusty trail towards Illilouette Creek and the falls.

YOS018

Location: 37.713074, -119.562950
Take in the best view of Illilouette Falls. The only other view of this waterfall is on the Mist Trail--several miles away. Look for rainbows at the bottom of the falls. Continue on the Panorama Trail.

YOS019

Location: 37.712581, -119.562621
View of Illilouette Falls. The best place to view the falls is from this unmarked vista on the Panorama Trail.

YOS020

Location: 37.711929, -119.561058
Cross footbridge over Illilouette Creek and begin the only real uphill portion of this trail. It is a strenuous climb gaining about 800 feet elevation in a mile and a half.

YOS021

Location: 37.716190, -119.557381
Panorama Point: Catch a different perspective of Yosemite Valley and all its grandeur. Views to Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and the Royal Arches too.

YOS022

Location: 37.719936, -119.540031
Bear left at the three-way junction. Head downhill along switchbacks as you near the top of Nevada Falls.

YOS023

Location: 37.722443, -119.535507
Turn right onto the John Muir Trail and continue northeast towards Nevada Falls.

YOS024

Location: 37.725278, -119.532666
Top of Nevada Falls

YOS025

Location: 37.726154, -119.530334
Bear left at Y-junction and merge onto the Mist Trail. Granite steps and switchbacks descend almost 700 feet.

YOS026

Location: 37.726524, -119.540215
Cross footbridge over Merced River. Look back for a full view of Nevada Falls.

YOS027

Location: 37.726261, -119.541473
Turn right at the Y-junction. The Mist Trail intersects with the trail to Clark Point. Stay right. Note: If the trail starts to climb, you're on the wrong trail.

YOS028

Location: 37.727242, -119.543363
Top of Vernal Falls. When you're ready, put on your rain gear and head to the left of the falls to begin your descent on the wet steps of the Mist Trail.

YOS029

Location: 37.726315, -119.548691
Continue right at the three-way trail junction. The Mist Trail intersects with the John Muir Trail.

YOS030

Location: 37.725979, -119.551651
Cross footbridge. It's a blacktop path to Happy Isles.

YOS031

Location: 37.726228, -119.553646
The only vantage point in Yosemite where you can see four waterfalls: Yosemite, Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls.

YOS032

Location: 37.726330, -119.556881
Vista: Look across to see Illilouette Falls again. This location is also below Sierra Point, the only location in Yosemite where you can see the famous four waterfalls: Yosemite, Illilouette, Vernal and Nevada Falls. Its trail was decimated by a rock slide in the 1970s.

YOS033

Location: 37.732422, -119.558373
Happy Isles Bridge: Head across the bridge to Happy Isles shuttle stop and take shuttle back to parking lot.


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