How Long To Hike Half Dome In Yosemite National Park, California

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There are many fantastic hiking trails to choose from in Yosemite National Park. Half Dome is among the most popular and challenging ones. Half Dome was thought impossible to summit until George Anderson summited it in 1875. Nowadays, Half Dome has grown in popularity. This hike offers many stunning views. So, how long does it take a person to hike Half Dome in Yosemite National Park?

The Half Dome hike in Yosemite National Park, California, is a 17 mile out and back trail that takes eight to ten hours. The total length of the hike depends on the route you take back and how long you spend on the summit. Half Dome has an elevation gain of 4 800 feet.

Many hikers complete the hike to Half Dome within one day. However, you can also choose to stay over in one of the camping spots in the park, making a two- or three-day hike of Half Dome. You must have a permit to hike to Half Dome and use the cables. In addition, Half Dome is not an easy hike. It requires stamina and some hiking experience.

How Long Does The Half Dome Hike In California Take?

The Half Dome hike in Yosemite National Park, California, is one of the most popular hikes in the entire park. This hike offers fantastic views of the Vernal and Nevada Falls, the high Sierra, Yosemite Valley, and Liberty Cap.

The hike to Half Dome is about a 17-mile round trip and should take approximately then hours to complete. However, there are two return routes to choose from. You can either return via the Mist Trail, the same trail you used going up. Or you can hike down via the John Muir Trail. While this trail is slightly longer, it does offer you other views.

Regardless of the trail you choose to return on, Half Dome is not an easy hike. The trail’s elevation level adds to the hike’s difficulty, and you need to pull yourself up via the cables to reach the summit of Half Dome. This climb makes up the last 400 feet and is by far the most challenging section.

If you are afraid of heights, Half Dome is probably not for you. You must also be fit enough to complete the climb and have enough upper body strength to pull yourself up the dome with the cables. Therefore, small children are not recommended to attempt this hike. Pets are also not allowed on the Half Dome hiking trial.

Seeing as Half Dome is such a long and grueling hike, it is recommended that you start the hike early. Many people start hiking before sunrise and have a predetermined turn-around time to ensure they make it back to the trailhead before dark. You are recommended to pack flashlights in case of emergency.

There are shuttles available from Yosemite Valley Trailhead Parking to the Mist Trail. However, these shuttles only start running from 7 am. From the parking lot, it is about half a mile’s walk to reach the start of the trail.

Half Dome Trail is open for hiking year-round. However, the cables that assist you in reaching the summit are taken down after Columbus Day and put up after Memorial Day. Therefore, if you hike outside of these times, you will not have the cables to help you reach the summit and must bring your own climbing gear.

As mentioned, you can also do the Half Dome hike as a multi-day hike. There is a campsite, known as Little Yosemite Campground, where you can overnight if you wish to break the hike up into sections. For example, you can hike to the campsite on the first day. On the second day, you can summit Half Dome and return to the camp. You can then complete the round trip and head back down on day three.

Whether you choose to do the Half Dome hike in one day or break it up into a multi-day hike, you shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of this hike. There are some potential dangers of hiking Half Dome.

Is Half Dome In Yosemite National Park A Dangerous Hike?

There are several risks when hiking Half Dome, and people have died on this hiking trail. Not being prepared, not paying attention, or underestimating your capabilities can lead to severe problems hiking Half Dome. Here are some of the risks associated with the Half Dome Hiking trail:

  • Altitude Sickness. As mentioned, Half Dome has an elevation gain of 4 800 feet. The summit of Half Dome is 8 800 feet above sea level. Therefore, altitude sickness is a risk when hiking this trail for both people and dogs. Assess your health, and don’t continue on this hike if you feel unwell.
  • Dehydration. You will need to have at least 135 ounces of water per person to hike Half Dome. Unfortunately, there aren’t many water fountains to refill the water. Be sure to take enough water and purification tablets if you fill your water at any waterfalls.
  • Lightning storms and rain. Thundershowers are common in California during the summers. Some people have died after being struck by lightning while ascending to the Half Dome Summit. Check the weather report before climbing Half Dome, and don’t use the cables if it is raining or there are lightning strikes. The terrain can become dangerously slippery.

Although there are some risks associated with hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California, this has not deterred the masses who have completed the hike. With the proper preparation, you can safely hike Half Dome.

How To Prepare For Half Dome In Yosemite National Park

We have mentioned some things you can do in preparation for the Half Dome hike. However, there are a few other tips to help you complete this hike safely while also having fun.

Wear comfortable hiking boots and bring gloves when hiking to Half Dome. Parts of this hike, especially the final section when you scale up the side of Half Dome to reach the summit, are very slippery. Thus, you will need to wear good hiking shoes with sufficient grip to prevent you from slipping and protect your ankles. In addition, wearing gloves when using the cables can improve your grip and prevent blisters.

Assess your fitness level as you hike Half Dome. Many people have sustained injuries on Half Dome because they were too tired to continue the hike and made mistakes. Be sure to monitor your level of fatigue and turn around when you can no longer continue. Remember that you will still need to descend from the mountain to reach the trailhead and return home.

Take it slowly and carefully when using the cables. By the time you reach the cable section of the hike, you might already feel fatigued. However, this is the most challenging section of the hike, and you might have to pass other hikers on the way. Therefore, take it slowly when using the cables and be patient with other hikers who may be slower. Make sure of your footing and pace yourself.


Hiking to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California, is not an easy task. The hike is a 17-mile round trip that takes the average hiker roughly ten hours to complete. However, when you reach the top, you will be rewarded with some of the best views in California. Remember to get a permit before hiking Half Dome and be safe while hiking.