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|Distance||14 miles (22.5 kilometers)|
|Time Required||10-12 hours|
|Elevation Gain||5000 feet (1520 meters)|
|High Point||8800 feet (2680 meters)|
|Low Point||4000 feet (1220 meters)|
|Best Months||May - October|
|Nearest City||Mariposa, CA|
The ultimate goal for mountain climbers in Yosemite, Half Dome is a very challenging single day hike with some of the most spectacular views of Yosemite National Park. It is reached from several trailheads that cross over other trails, such as The Mist Trail, the John Muir Trail, Glacier Point, and Tenaya Lake. Permits are required for the final ascent to the top of Half Dome (see Permits section).
First, of course, get to Yosemite National Park. The trailhead begins in the east end of Yosemite Valley near Curry Village (stay on the CA-140 until you've come into Yosemite Valley); you can park near Curry Village or the actual trailhead parking lot. The trailhead parking lot is through the road that says "Service Vehicles Only" - you can go through this road to park at the trailhead parking.
There are several beginnings to this trail that all eventually converge:
After getting to Nevada Falls from whichever route you choose, continue on the signs for Half Dome. The last 900 feet is very steep and this is where the cables are used. The top of Half Dome is fairly open and flat, enjoy the views!
First and foremost, however remote, death is a possibility on the trail to Half Dome - over 60 people have been killed attempting the ascent over the years. Most of these have been killed falling from the cables or slipping and being swept away above Vernal or Nevada Falls.
After heavy rain, the cable route can be especially slippery (there has been a death on the cable route after heavy rains due to just this).
No matter when you are attempting the Half Dome hike, you will be required to have a cable permit. Without a permit, you will be able to hike to the base of the sub dome and go no farther.
Getting a cable permit for Half Dome is a straightforward process, although permits are reserved far in advance. You can make reservations for up to four people at a time by calling 1-877-444-6777 or going to the http://www.recreation.gov website. The NPS issues 300 permits a day for advance booking (through the above phone number or website), 100 permits a day for backpackers, and another 50 permits per day on a first-come basis starting at 7am the day BEFORE the hike.
Cable permits sell out usually within an hour of them becoming available, and there have been reports of scalpers attempting to pick up tickets for resale, so be ready at exactly the time and date required to book your permits. Here are the current availabilities for cable permits, depending on when you are attempting the hike:
Hiking Month : Date Permits Become Available
The NPS currently allows anyone to use an advanced reservation cable permit, which means that you may be able to pick up a permit from a third party (it may be worth checking craigslist or ebay if you are desperate). Also, cancellations go back into the system so it can be worth it to keep trying for your date, even after all the permits appear to have been snagged.
Remember you will be required to pay the $20 entrance fee for Yosemite Park itself, when on your way to Half Dome. Additionally, if you're planning on camping on your way to Half Dome you will need a camping permit (also available at the phone number and website above).
Bathrooms are along The Mist Trail (for example at the lookout bridge for Vernal Falls)
You can get food at the regular spots in Curry Village or a celebratory drink at Ahwahnee Bar.
Above Nevada Falls is the Little Yosemite Valley campground. Some hikers attempting Half Dome choose to spend the night here, which gives them a two hour head start on anyone else coming up through The Mist Trail. The downside is that you'll need to carry your camping gear with you unless you spend two nights in Little Yosemite Valley. You'll also, of course, need to get the requisite camping permits.
Keep in mind, although obvious, you cannot hike Half Dome when the cables are not up, which is usually from mid May or early June until Columbus Day weekend in October.
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Trailhead (37.738544, -119.563362)|
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