The Raging Falls - Close Up

Photos: A Spring Visit to Upper Yosemite Falls

Outdoor Adventures

California had an impressive winter and with spring starting to thaw out all the snow, it’s definitely time to chase some waterfalls.

A few weeks ago, I made my first visit of the season to Yosemite’s Vernal and Nevada falls which still required a winter style snow climb. Well, things have warmed up nicely since then, the Mist Trail has opened up (with some snow & ice hanging around) and just about every face of the park has a waterfall of some size running down. Like seriously, there’s two falls off the side of El Capitan right now!

Yosemite Falls from the Valley Floor
Yosemite Falls from the Valley Floor just after sunrise. Sunday, April 14th

This weekend, I returned to the park for an up close visit to Upper Yosemite Falls and damn — raging is an understatement. If have the chance to get to the park yourself, now is an amazing time but if not, here’s a look at all the sights.

Upper Yosemite Falls and Half Dome
Half Dome behind Upper Yosemite Falls from the Falls Trail.

For those who are lucky enough to enjoy the view up close as well, a quick update on trail conditions: The Upper Yosemite Falls trail is clear of snow and debris past Columbia Rock until right after the Yosemite Falls view point (right after the second downhill section.) Shortly after that, you’ll run into the most significant obstacle of the day where a large snow slope is hanging on and blocking the trail. You can climb the snow or jump across but use caution as things are melting out and it would be easy to punch through.

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
A day hiker making his way up towards the first snowy part of the trail just past the falls viewpoint.

Heading further up, there is snow towards the last few hundred vertical feet on the trail and plenty once you top out but been heavily traveled and is easily navigated.

Trail conditions
Expect slick conditions on the granite steps and a few obstacles along the trail to navigate by as well.

Beyond that, there’s a few fallen trees and rocks to navigate around, one simple scramble to avoid a snow bank around a switchback and lots of streams overflowing the trail to the tune of a few inches of water.

Snow on the trail
Light snow patches like this are common near the top of the trail with plenty more above.
Snowy and icy conditions up top make for slick walking and slushy returns.

Microspikes were handy to speed up descending in the slush and would be real nice for a cold day ascent as things freeze up but not necessary on my visit. I would defiently recommend poles and waterproof hiking boots to handle the remaining snow and water crossings. Otherwise, lots of water and snacks for the increasingly warm days on the fully exposed trail!

Upper Yosemite Falls Bridge
Checking out the creek on its way down to Upper Yosemite Falls (just down from this photo.)

Making your own visit to the park? Be sure to share a comment with the conditions you encounter as Spring takes hold and the snow melts away…

Mountain views from Yosemite Falls
Mountain views: The still snowy Sierras from the top of Yosemite Falls.

For more details, see my Guide to Hiking Upper Yosemite Falls and always be sure to check the NPS Official Website for up to date Trail Conditions, what to pack and more.