Panorama Trail in Yosemite | Expert Guide by Mountain IQ

Panorama Trail in Yosemite – Expert Guide to a Combined Trail

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Panorama Trail Yosemite

Looking to get the most out of Yosemite National Park? The Panorama trail combines two of Yosemite’s most incredible trails: Glacier Point and the Mist Trail. This guide will give you all the information you need for your journey along the Panorama Trail.

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Panorama Trail Yosemite

Route Overview

Quick Facts

  • Elevation: 4,000-7,200ft (1,200-2,200m)
  • Difficulty: Moderate, mostly downhill
  • Length: 8.5 miles (13.5km)
  • Highlights: Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, Illilouette Falls, Liberty Cap, Panorama Point, Half Dome, Yosemite Valley
  • Quickest route: Via Glacier Point and the Mist Trail
  • Get an overnight permit on the day before the hike or in advance

The Panorama Trail is known for its fantastic views along the entirety of the trail. Some of the views you can expect to see are Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, Illilouette Falls, Liberty Cap, Panorama Point, Half Dome, and Yosemite Valley. All of these views add up to the ultimate panoramic experience. This trail is 8.5 miles one way and will take you about 6-7 hours to complete. It can be modified in several different ways and it is rated as moderately difficult, making it one of the most popular day hikes following the Half Dome.

This trail can be hiked any time of year. To get the most out of the waterfalls along the Mist trail, consider visiting during spring and early summer. This will provide even more incredible views and a light mist to cool you down while you hike.

Your adventure will begin at the southern end of Glacier Point. This is easily accessible by catching a bus from Yosemite Valley. You will come across multiple forks along the trail. Not to fear, all paths are clearly labeled. You will continue towards the left of the fork leading to the crossing of lllilouette Creek. Once you reach the second fork, stick to the left again and you will begin your descent to the Mist Trail. The third fork is above Nevada Falls. Follow left to join the John Muir Trail or right to proceed to Nevada Fall and the Mist Trail. Although less scenic, the John Muir trail is an easier alternative to the Mist Trail. Continue your journey along the Mist Trail leading to Yosemite Valley.

There are several alternative routes. If you are looking for a challenging hike, hike the 4-mile trail from Glacier Point rather than taking the bus. This route adds up to 14 miles rather than the 8.5-mile Panorama trail alone.

Panorama Trail has an unmarked detour you cannot miss. This detour leads to Panorama Point. A scenic spot with stunning views of Glacier Point, Royal Arches, North Dome, and Half Dome. Most people walk past this and miss out on the opportunity of breathtaking views.

No matter what route you decide to take, Panorama Trails lives up to its name. It offers a variety of views by following two different trails in one. Take in everything it has to offer, as its beauty cannot be captured in photographs.

Regional Map

The Panorama Trailhead is in Glacier Point, 30 miles or an hour drive from Yosemite Valley. Your adventure will begin at the southern end of glacier point and end back in Yosemite Valley.

Recommended Guidebook

Half Dome Hike Guidebook

For a detailed guide on the Panorama Trail and other easy day hikes around Yosemite, check out the Falcon Guide for Best Easy Day Hikes by Suzanne Swedo. This book is handy as it includes a trail map and provides additional information about which hikes to take and where the best photo opportunities are.

For an overview of Yosemite National Park, The Lonely Planet Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks by The Lonely planet is an excellent read. It features maps, itineraries, insider tips, and reviews for what to eat and where to sleep within Yosemite.

Itinerary

It is crucial to begin this hike at dawn. It will take you approximately 12 hours and you will want daylight left on your descend. There are other trails to get to the Half Dome but the Mist Trail remains the most popular and scenic route.

Up the Panorama Trailhead

Descent to the Mist Trail

To Nevada Falls

Reach Destination

panorama trail yosemite

Video Overview

A scenic video featuring the three waterfalls you will encounter along the Panorama Trail. This video is by Skytamercim on Youtube and is 12 minutes long.

Panorama Trail Overview

Best Time To Go

The mountain views are stunning year round. If the waterfalls are what you are after, consider visiting in spring or summer. Vernal falls and Nevada falls tend to be fuller for longer than Bridalveil or Yosemite falls for example. If you choose to visit in August, you’ll have outstanding weather and beautiful full falls.

Tickets

It is recommended to take the bus from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point. This avoids struggles with parking and allows one to be parked right at your destination. A one-way bus ticket from the valley to Glacier Point costs $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, and $15 for kids. You can buy these bus tickets online at travelyosemite.com or by phone at +1(209) 372 1240.

Difficulty

This trail is one of the easier options at Yosemite as it is mostly downhill. It is an epic day hike for the whole family to enjoy. Just keep in mind that this trail is still moderately difficult and may be best for children over 10-12 years old. The Mist Trail can be strenuous on the knees with the number of steps involved. If you take it slow and soak in the views, most people who are in decent shape will be able to complete the Panorama Trail.

Frequently Asked Questions

What gear do I need?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

Can I avoid taking a bus to Glacier Point and hike instead?

Is Panorama a good family hike?

What travel insurance do I need?

What wildlife could I potentially come across?

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