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Yosemite National Park has been somewhere I love to return to for many reasons. It holds this magic of stunning nature and, with a bit of effort, you can get out on the trail and soak in unparalleled views.

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My husband and I go often for a hike that we’ve done a few times, as it offers views into both sides of the valley, making it the ultimate hike. Yosemite National Park offers a few different hikes for those looking for a range of difficulty, some that go to waterfalls and others that encompass the valley floor. We love the Four Mile Trail because it soars high above the valley floor and ends at the iconic Glacier Point.

What I love about Yosemite National Park is that we can do it in a day trip from SF with an early start.

So here’s how we go for the ultimate hike in Yosemite National Park:

The night before, we had stocked up on food and water. Bringing a cooler, we stock it full with sandwiches, fruit, and snacks to hold us over for the hike. In the morning, we leave no later than 5 am and get into the park by 9 or so from SF area (this includes one bathroom/coffee stop.)

The drive into the park is beautiful, and we often will stop at a waterfall along the way to take photos (there are a few to choose from.) We try to get on the trail no later than 10:30/11am as to beat the heat and allot enough time for the hike. Parking by the Swinging Bridge park, the Four Mile Trail is not too far off and there are bathrooms for one last stop.

We always bring one extra water in addition to the two we have for ourselves, as the trail is pretty difficult. In our pack, we always have our food (sandwich + snack), sunscreen, and tissue for the hike. And then, we’re off!

As you climb the mountain, the views get better and better. Each turn offers a new perspective into the valley. This time of year, the water run-off is strong and you can hear the thundering and crackling of the waterfalls across the valley.

As you make it near the top, the last view is certainly the best. It makes the 4.9 mile, 3,400 feet of elevation, 2.5 hour climb worth it, as you turn the corner and see Half Dome.

The trail flattens out and when we hit Glacier Point at the top, we settle in a spot to each our lunch with a view over Yosemite Valley. It doesn’t get much better than this.

One more stop at the restroom, and if the snack shop is open (often isn’t so be sure to have all of your food/drinks just in case) we will grab a treat. The hike back down doesn’t take nearly as much time and seems to fly by. The entire hike with a lunch break takes about 10 miles and five and a half hours. 

At the end of the hike, we will hang out in the valley floor, go for a walk and the catch sunset. Yosemite National Park is truly a wonderful place, and holds a world of adventure for those looking to get outside.

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