The 4 Mile Trail – Yosemite National Park

The 4 Mile Trail – Yosemite National Park

April 2021

The 4 Mile Trail – Yosemite National Park

The 4 Mile Trail is a difficult 9.4 mile there and back trail to Glacier Point. Glacier Point is one of the best views in the park and during the summertime is actually drivable – no need to hike to it at all. But those that do hike to it have the option of many trails there after. When the shuttle service is operating during non-COVID times, it is popular to combine the 4 Mile Trail with others to string together a great day hike then take the shuttle back to the car. 

Anyway, I checked AllTrails once again – was not getting burned like yesterday’s Muir mishap – to confirm that indeed the 4 Mile Trail is open but the last end to Glacier Point was closed due to snow and ice. It appeared that some people completed the entire journey with the proper snow and ice gear but since we did not have that, we figured we would go as high on the trail as we were comfortable. 

The parking at 4 Mile Trail is very limited so once again, an early start is necessary. We had no issue at 645A and there may have only been three or four other cars parked at that time. 

After all the nine plus miles of hiking yesterday, my knees were definitely feeling it today. Kevin found some perfect sticks that we could use as walking sticks. I now understand the rationale for walking poles, I get it – we are getting old. And yes, I will be investing in a pair for future hiking. 

The trailhead indicated that Union Point was 3 miles and Glacier Point was 4.6 miles so we decided to see once we were at the 3 mile marker what the situation was before making the final decision to continue further. 

This trail was really awesome – I can say that upfront. The entire thing is a series of long and gradual switch backs on well traveled paths and not part is very steep. The first mile of switchbacks start in the forest but through the trees it was clear that the views were going to be incredible. 

Just before 800AM, we emerged from the tree line and welcomed a spectacular view from Cathedral to El Capitan to Yosemite Falls. 

These gentle switchbacks were such a welcomed change from the stairmaster of the Mist Trail yesterday. Even though the elevation climb was significant, I must have been going at just the right pace cause I was really loving it. 

Not to mention, the views just kept getting spectacular! It was difficult not to stop and take pictures the entire way up.

And then about a half hour later, we reached the final turn that revealed the most surprising view! While I read that you get a great view of Half Dome on this trail, I figured it had to be seen at Glacier Point. And there was no lead up, it was just there. 

This is another spot where I can’t imagine the mob of people that have to wait to get their photo done at this picturesque spot. We sat an enjoyed a few snacks while taking in the view. 

As expected, the gate to Glacier Point was closed. That did not stop several people from continuing on but we were so happy with this trail and what we had seen, we were perfectly content to start the return journey. Plus we still had a long return journey back to the airport ahead.

The way down was just as pleasant though crowded with more hikers making their way up the trail. At one point we passed a hiker that warned us of a bear on the trail he encountered by the water. Honestly, that did not even cross our mind! After seeing no bears in Alaska where we were the only ones on many of the trails the entire journey, it did not make much sense for bears to be on the trail in Yosemite where there are way more people. Though it was springtime so I guess the bears are coming out of hibernation. When we got to the part of the trail where the hiker saw the bear, we looked around and Kevin spotted him further down a stream off the trail. I can’t believe we had our first bear sighting! 

Otherwise, the way down was uneventful in a good way, just enjoying the panoramic scenes as we descended down the switchbacks. While I took all the same photos on the way up, it was impossible to not snap a few more going down. 

At 1030A, we returned our walking sticks so that some other traveler would have to good fortune of using them. We were happy with our time for the 6 mile journey. According to the Fitbit, we completed a 6 mile journey in just over 3 hours with 2147 ft elevation gain.

I was surprised at how enjoyable this trail was for being one of the more difficult rated trails in the park.This is a great way to warm up at the beginning of the trip or round out at the end of the trip like we did. And I am sure this trail is amazing when you can actually get to Glacier Point! 

To read all the details of our Yosemite trip – here!

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