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Valley Loop Trail



17.0 mile 27.4 kilometer loop


Ascent: 869' 265 m
Descent: -868' -265 m
High: 4,150' 1,265 m
Low: 3,875' 1,181 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 18% (10°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Brian Smith

A nearly 20 mile trail forming a loop around Yosemite Valley.

Brian Smith

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


This trail follows many of the Valley's first east-west trails and wagon roads. It offers a rare opportunity in Yosemite Valley: to hike on a fairly level trail with some solitude. While some of the trail passes near roads, much of it takes you through meadows, talus slopes at the base of the granite cliffs, and near the Merced River. You can access the trail from many places throughout the Valley. Route-finding can be difficult in places, so it is best to bring a map with you (even a simple day hiking brochure from the visitor center) or the Hiking Project mobile app as they will orient you with the various landforms in the Valley, which are often listed on the trail/directional signs.

From the Lower Yosemite Fall area, head west along the base of the Three Brothers rock formation, past Camp 4, eventually working your way through Yosemite Valley to El Capitan. If you are planning to hike the half loop, cross the Merced River at El Capitan Bridge and continue by heading east back toward Yosemite Village. If you are planning to hike the full loop, continue west past El Capitan toward Bridalveil Fall. While most of the trail is flat, there are some hilly sections throughout the loop. Additionally, you'll find mixed trail surfaces: dirt, rocks, sand, and old pavement.

The Valley Loop Trail is open year-round. During spring, you may find localized flooding on the trail near creeks. During winter, the trail is often snowy and icy in places, particularly along the south side of Yosemite Valley. In these areas, use extreme caution as it may be hard to get traction on ice and route-finding may be difficult in snowy areas (the trail may be completely obscured by just a few inches of snow).

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna


Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

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Jul 29, 2019
Adam G
Jul 14, 2019
Jason Johnson
Jul 7, 2019
Michael Martinez
14.8mi — 4h 58m
Jun 15, 2019
K&A Best
Jun 2, 2019
Chris Sparrow
10mi — 4h 56m
May 28, 2019
Masahiro Ono
May 28, 2019
Hi King
5.5mi — 9h 37m
May 18, 2019
Ch S

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 16 votes


  3.8 from 16 votes
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in California


170 Views Last Month
4,652 Since May 7, 2015



The mighty Merced River.
May 7, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Valley View of Yosemite Valley - El Capitan and Three Brothers
May 7, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
from the Yosemite Valley trails
Aug 4, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA
Yosemite Valley April 2015 snow storm.
Mar 13, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
The Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls
May 7, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Yosemite Falls
Jun 2, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA


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