The Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park is an incredible point-to-point hike that offers a tour of some of the most spectacular features in the park. Beginning at Glacier Point, hikers can treat themselves to ice cream while taking in a stunning view of the valley's natural icons, including Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the Royal Arches. While enjoying the broad sweeping vista, be sure to check out the geology hut to learn about the tectonic forces and glacial movements that formed this amazing landscape.
From Glacier Point the trail descends 3,200 feet in 8 miles and is mostly a moderate downhill climb. The first portion leading to Illilouette Fall is fully exposed to the sun and can be hot in the summer, but soon after you'll get plenty of shade as you weave through the upper montane forest of red fir, pine, and juniper trees. Half Dome continues to dominate the view from every angle until the trail reaches the top of Nevada Fall, where another granite dome, Liberty Cap, towers over you. The climb down the 600 steps of the Mist Trail begins here, descending directly alongside 594-foot Nevada Fall and 317-foot Vernal Fall. While the up-close encounter with the waterfalls is a memorable experience, it should be noted that waterfall spray can make these stairs very slick in spring and early summer, and you may get soaked. An alternative route that does not require a hike down these steps is the John Muir Trail, which merges with the Mist Trail after Vernal Fall. The descent from here to Happy Isles is a paved, ADA-accessible trail.
Anyone looking for added adventure should consider beginning this hike at the Four Mile Trailhead and hiking up from the valley to Glacier Point, making it an epic 13 miles of breathtaking scenery.