This classic 14 to 16 mile round-trip Yosemite hike with 4,800 feet of elevation gain can be done as a day hike or backpacked with an overnight camp at Little Yosemite Valley. Whichever way you do it, you must have a relatively hard-to-get permit to go up the most famous and exhilarating part at the end – the cables that will guide you up the last 400 feet of smooth, steep granite (bring grippy gloves).
Most people doing a day hike will start early before sunrise – so make sure you bring a headlamp (you should always carry one anyway). On your way up, you’ll pass the majestic Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and–from the shoulder and summit–panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. See the Half Dome hike page from Yosemite National Park for more information.
Getting a permit
For day hikers, permits are available by lottery in March, with a limited number available two days in advance. Backpackers, including those who want to camp in Little Yosemite Valley, should request a Half Dome permit with their wilderness permit.