Lower Yosemite Fall has got to my my favorite hike at Yosemite National Park! This magnificent waterfall is the lower 320 feet of the 2,425 ft Yosemite Falls. While I love everything about Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls took my breath away and captured my heart the very first time I saw it. Unlike the hike to the top of Upper Yosemite Fall, which involves good health and an entire day of planning, Lower Yosemite Fall is easy to access and is kid, wheelchair, and stroller friendly. Keep reading to see photos and learn why I love this must-see waterfall and hike so much!
First of all, the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail is easy to find
Every guest we have brought into Yosemite Valley has experienced this hike, even guests with little babies. My dad used to take guests on tours of Washington D.C. whenever they came back East to visit. Since we lived close to Yosemite National Park, I did the same, but instead of seeing our nation’s capitol, we got to see sheer granite cliffs with cascading waterfalls all around.
Thankfully, the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail is easy to find. There are several ways to access the Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead. The first way is to find parking and then take a shuttle to stop #6. This will take you to a covered waiting area.
Once you arrive at the shuttle stop, you will find bathrooms, a visitor’s center close by, and places to rest before beginning your hike if needed.
If the shuttles are full or you don’t want to fight traffic, there are several walking options for getting to the Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead.
This first way requires more walking, but it’s fairly easy to do if there are large crowds waiting for the shuttle. There is a visitor’s parking lot just past Camp 4 on the left, on Northside Drive. You will pass Yosemite Falls before arriving at this parking lot, but don’t worry. From the parking lot, you can walk directly to the Yosemite Falls site. While it’s a bit of a hike, Yosemite provides beautifully paved walking paths that provide natural shade and opportunities for exercise. One time we brought our bikes up to Yosemite Valley and had a great time biking from location to location as a family.
If you choose this option, note that Northside Drive is a one way road where this parking lot is. The nice thing about parking at this lot is that when it’s time to leave Yosemite, you will have quick access out of the park. I’ve spent over an hour before just trying to get around the loop when leaving. This parking lot saves a lot of that frustration.
Another option is to park at the Yosemite Chapel, though this lot is quite small.
If you happen to find parking at the Yosemite Chapel on Southside Drive, you can also either take a shuttle from there, or walk across the meadow and river to the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail.
There are also parking lots located at Yosemite Village and Curry Village. They have access to shuttles but fill up quickly. However you decide to do it, Yosemite National Park has made access to the Lower Fall Trail beautifully accessible and easy to find.
Second, the hike to Lower Yosemite Fall can be done in a short amount of time, is kid-friendly, and is wheelchair accessible
The second thing I love about the Lower Yosemite Fall hike is that is can be done in a short amount of time and is stroller-friendly. The Lower Yosemite Fall Trail is a 1 mile round trip hike with only a 50 ft gain in elevation. There are two entrance points to the hike on Northside Drive as it forms a complete loop. The wheelchair accessible path is located on the eastern portion of the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail.
This stroller and kid-friendly paved path takes you directly to a bridge that crosses over the base of Lower Yosemite Fall. You can turn around there if needed, or can continue on to complete the loop. It is worth doing the entire loop, if possible, to get different views of Yosemite Falls.
We have never had trouble completing the hike with small children. In addition, one time we went, we easily pushed my friend’s dad in a wheel chair so that he, too, could see Lower Yosemite Fall up close.
Third, when you hike to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall, cool mist floods your face depending upon the time of year
Some of my favorite memories have come when the falls have been at their fullest. Depending upon the time of year, expect to get wet as you cross the bridge at the base of Lower Yosemite Fall!
The best time of year to see the waterfalls is usually around April or May.
July typically still has water on the falls, however, it is a lot less.
That said, people usually hike to the base of the waterfall during the drier seasons. I, personally, would proceed with great caution as several deaths are attributed to getting too close to waterfalls.
Fourth, I love the amazing photographic opportunities created by Yosemite Falls
As a photographer, my favorite reason to go to Yosemite National Park is to capture the beauty all around me.
I love the above photograph. This was taken in April 2016 and the lighting was moody and perfect for water photography.
I also love the above view of Yosemite Falls! From here, you can see both the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls stacked on top of each other.
This view is found just past the shuttle drop off on the main path to the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail.
It gets very crowded in this location. In order to take these photographs, I had to stand on a rock. I then tilted my camera just above the crowd. It makes it feel as if I had the park to myself!
Lastly, Yosemite Falls leaves a lasting impression you will never forget
I will never forget the first time I went to Yosemite National Park back in 2005. You cannot understand the sheer grandeur of the experience until you have seen it for yourself.
Some of my kids are now grown. Since we’ve moved from California, we no longer have easy access to Yosemite.
Even now, I get teary-eyed going through these photographs. I long to return to Yosemite National Park.
Though it can get crowded at times, Yosemite is filled with ample walkways and meandering paths. One can get lost here and find the solitude they seek.
If you’re lucky, you will see deer or other wildlife grazing in the meadows.
I invite you to experience this National Park for yourself
so that you can fully enjoy it and bask in its beauty!
I hope you get the opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park and to hike to Lower Yosemite Fall yourself one day. If not, at least you can live it through my photos! Thanks for reading and sharing my adventures with me!
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