Yosemite National Park: Half Dome at Sunrise

Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike

For the Last Adventurer, the hike that he says he’ll never do again and always does is Mt. Whitney. For me? It’s Half Dome. It’s one of those hikes that I swear up and down that I’ll never do again, but each time someone mentions doing it, I always end up applying for a permit.

Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike

This year was hike #3 for me, and it was pretty mellow. I’m a big fan of night hikes, especially for this one. Less people on the trail, less heat, more peace and solitude, and more importantly, less people on the cables. Saturday around lunchtime, we drove from San Francisco down to Yosemite. I snagged a campsite at Crane Flat for us to relax and hang out at before driving into the valley to begin the hike.

Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike

We started at the Happy Isles trailhead at midnight and ascended via the Mist trail. There was nearly no moon and the stars were super duper bright. The route is very straight forward and very well signed. You would have to try very hard to get lost here, even in the dark. I reached the bottom of the cables around 5 in the morning and light was just starting to come through. I passed a group going up the cables and made it up to watch the sun rising over the High Sierra. It was so ridiculously beautiful. There were a good number of people up top with the same idea we had, but it wasn’t crowded by any means.

Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike

After sunrise, we headed back down the cables and retraced our steps down the Mist Trail past Nevada and Vernal Falls and drove back home. It was a pretty long day, but always so worth it!

Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike

Don’t forget that you need to have a permit at all times to hike from Sub Dome to up the cables! There are rangers who check and if you don’t have one, you will be fined up to $5000 or jailed for up to six months.

You can obtain a permit as a day hiker or as a backpacker, respectively. The process is slightly different for both.

Gear: Outdoor Research Umbra Hoody, Outdoor Research Echo Ubertube, Outdoor Research Air Brake Gloves, Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket, Norrøna Bitihorn Softshell Pants, Black Diamond Nitro 26 Backpack, Salewa Alp Flow Mid GTX boots

Yosemite National Park Half Dome at Sunrise Hike