Tuesday, June 5


I was having some difficulty trying to figure out how to write this post, because no words I can come up with or picture I have to share will do this trail justice - it was that amazing. Nevertheless I am going to try my best and have decided to turn this post into some what of a "how to" and help anyone else who wants to do this be just as prepared as we were.

The trail we did was called Panorama Trail - don't let the name fool you though, it was a very intense, long trail, climbing up and down a few sets of mountains. Usually you can take a shuttle to the top of Glacier Point and start the trail from there, but I guess Yosemite is not currently providing the service so we hiked up to the top of Glacier Point and then went from there to Panorama Trail which takes you all the way back down to the valley floor.

From start to finish it took us a little over 10 hours, we tried to leave a bit earlier but by the time we parked & even got to the start of the hike it was 9am. The trail up to Glacier Point is called 4 mile trail {also deceiving because it's actually 4.8 miles} which is alternating uphill switchbacks to climb up the mountain. That was pretty hard going and it took us about 3 hours, we made really great time. We stopped once to have a couple snacks to give us energy to finish the uphill to Glacier Point. Once we arrived there we had such a feeling of great accomplishment just looking out at the breathtaking views. There is actually a general store with food and snacks as well as restrooms which we did not know about but were very relieved to find that out. They also had a water fountain so we could fill up our Camel Pack's.
Once we had a nice long break, filled up on food & used the restroom it was time to start Panorama Trail. The first few miles are all downhill and the trail changes as it feels more like a desert with the sun beating down on you. Once you get lower down the mountain there are more trees covering you and it feels more like a forest. Then the first waterfall you see is called Illilouette Falls, it is nice but there are still two more impressive waterfalls coming :)
Before you know it, you are at the bottom between two sets of mountains where there are rapids flowing very aggressively. We could not believe we had come all the way down after being so high up at Glacier Point. Once you cross the river though, the tough part starts again and it is back to uphill climbing. This time it was a little bit tougher because we had already been on the trail for 5 or 6 hours and were getting a bit tired, not to mention it was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was pretty strong. We took this next uphill part pretty slow with a few little breaks every now and then in the shade to catch our breath. There was a great parting between the trees where you can see the back of Half Dome which quickly reminds you just how high you have climbed, again
Not too much further and you come to the top of Nevada Falls, which I think is the biggest waterfall. With all the snow still melting Nevada Falls was in full force with its loud crashing water falling down. It was just breathtaking and you could really feel the energy and power that the water had. We took a little break here and sat on the rocks because out of nowhere this horrible blister on my heel decided it didn't want me to walk anymore. We also had some more snacks to refuel for the hike down via the Mist Trail. This takes you along side Nevada Falls, brings you to the top of Vernal Falls and then really along side Vernal falls with lots of, you guessed it.. mist! The "steps" were very tricky and basically just rocks scattered, you really need to watch every step you take. Going down is actually extremely tricky because you are using different muscles than ones you normally use on a day to day basis and you need to have good solid balance as you climb down. Coming down the Mist Trail was definitely worth every one of those steps because when you are beside Vernal Falls and all you can hear is the roar of the water and the mist on your face, there really is nothing better.
At the bottom of the stairs, I turned back up to look and all I could think was, We did it! We did it! Wow I can't believe we did all that! In a way I was so relieved to be back at the bottom and know there was just about one mile to go of just wide open road and pavement and then I could sit down, relax and take off these clothes. I can tell you this though, I had no idea what I had done all day. I didn't believe that I went all the way up those mountains, and down.. and then back up again. Was I dreaming, did this happen? Brett tried to point out where we were during the day & all I could say was No, no way - we weren't up there, are you crazy?
And just like that, there is my summary and experience with probably the second best hike in the park {I think first being Half Dome} One thing to keep in mind is the valley floor is about 3,000ft in elevation already and when you are at the top of Glacier Point it gets up to about 8,000ft - I believe that is important for anyone to know who wants to go into this. Also here is a list of things we brought with us that I would advise anyone else to do the same. I hope you enjoyed this experience I shared & I would love to hear if you did this hike or anything similar & what your experience was like!

Necessary Items:
  • 2-3 liters of water {seriously!}
  • lots of quality food & snacks
  • energy blocks or liquid goo
  • quality hiking shoes & socks
  • first aid kit {band aids, ibuprofen, gauze - the usual, just in case}
  • sunscreen
  • hand sanitizer
  • bug spray {look for one with deet}
  • mole skin {i actually left this back in our cabin & really regretted it}
  • light weight & comfy clothes
  • a camera!
  • a sense of wonder and adventure
X x


Jim said...


My wife and I just read your comments about Yosemite and enjoyed it very much. We are going there in another 10 days so the timing is/was perfect. We are in our mid 60's and have done a lot of hiking in Europe and some in the West. In the past few years, I have developed some acrophobia and now have issues hiking narrow trials where there are steep drop-offs. I am ok with heights but the drop-offs are a problem. What will we encounter on the Panoramic Trail at Yosemite?


Carina said...


Thank you for your comment about yosemite!

I am really looking forward to go to the USA in 4 days! I still can't believe it. We were already there in 2009 an I really love the Yosemite (but we didn't have time for hiking). So this year we planned 2 full days in yosemite and we will do the panorama trail too. It was good to read that you can do it in one day an to combine it with the 4 mile trail.

Perhaps we will start from curry village and end at glacier point.

If we are fit enough we do the 4 mile trail after that!

Best wishes from Cologne - Germay, Carina