Hike Columbia Rock (Yosemite)
|In This Guide|
|Distance||2 miles (3.2 km)|
|Hike Time||1.5-2.5 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,050 feet (320m)|
|Highest Elevation||5,031 feet (1533m)|
|Fees & Permits||Park Entry Fee|
|Park Website (?)||Yosemite National Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
If you’re not a big hiker but still want to get a taste of what the epic hikes of Yosemite are like, this short, yet specular, hike to Columbia Rock is for you. In just 2 miles (round-trip) you’ll get to hike the iconic switchbacks, up the walls of Yosemite Valley, on a trail built by Yosemite’s master trail-builder, John Conway. And at the top, you reach Columbia Rock, a scenic overlook with sweeping views of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome. The hike is just minutes away from the popular Yosemite Lodge and tourist attractions of the valley.
Getting to the Columbia Rock Trailhead
The hike to Columbia Rock uses the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, which is located at Camp 4 in the Yosemite Valley. To get to the start of the hike, you can
- Walk a few minutes from the Yosemite Valley Lodge area
- Take the free green shuttle bus to stop #7
- Park in the small free lot by Yosemite Lodge
- Walk from the Camp 4 camping area if you are staying there
When he was getting his start in the 1960s, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, made and sold climbing gear in the parking lot of Camp 4.
Here’s the trailhead address for Camp 4 if you’re driving there:
Yosemite Falls Trail, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389
Gear for the Hike
Don’t let the short distance fool you, this is a tough hike, and having proper hiking gear will help. If you don’t have hiking gear, use fitness clothes, and in a pinch, you can do this is casual wear. You’ll want sturdy footwear no matter what you do to navigate the steep trail. Bring at least 1L of water with you. There is no water available on the trail.
The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women)
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2020.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Columbia Rock Trail Maps
Although the trail to Columbia Rock was first built in 1877, it’s actively maintained and popular, and is safe to hike on. It’s also easy to follow after a few twists and turns in the beginning. Overall the trail is great for beginners.
Hike Columbia Rock (Yosemite) Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Columbia Rock Hike Directions
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Heads up, many trails and parks are closed because of the Covid pandemic. Please call the park or visit the website listed at the beginning of the hike to see what the status is.
Watch This Video In 360/VR
Why are 360 videos great for hiking?
Turn by Turn Directions
When you’re done at Columbia Rock, just return the way you came. You can also keep hiking for another 15 minutes or so (uphill) for some great views of Upper Yosemite Falls. Check out my guide to the Upper Yosemite Falls hike to see what that looks like.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.