Freedom to Roam / Travelogue

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite

My hiking & inspiration guide to The Panorama Trail

It’s 05:00 in the morning and still pitch black outside when we drive off from the hotel. Our plan is to catch sunrise at Glacier Point, a viewpoint in Yosemite that is situated 2199 meters above sea level.

When we get to the viewpoint we are greeted by gorgeous mountains, a wonderful view of Half Dome and a sky on fire. It is simply breathtaking!

 

After watching the sun rise behind Half Dome me and Katarina set off on a hike. We are to walk down to the valley floor from Glacier Point following the Panorama Hike Trail for 8.5 miles (13.5 km).

This hike rates as a 6 / 10 in difficulty going downhill from the top to the bottom of the valley. We had considered doing the trek upphill but I am very pleased with our decision to do it the other way around.

➳ You can read more information about the Panorama Trail at the site called Yosemite Hikes.

It’s a beautiful autumn day to do a hike in Yosemite. We have the path all for ourselves in the early hours of the day with only a coyote running on the path ahead of us and some chipmunks darting back and forth across the road. As time passes and the sun rises higher in the sky we start to shed our layers.

Thankfully the shadows in between the trees are cool and soothing.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

We walk leisurely while talking and taking everything in. It smells of forest and smoke (they’re doing controlled fires throughout the valley) and after a while we start to hear a waterfall fall in the distance.

Then we finally reach Illouette falls, the first fall out of three.

Somewhere along the way the Panorama Trail turnes into the Mist Trail that goes along all three waterfalls and is said to be a beautiful hike. During this season the waterfalls doesn’t hold a lot of water though, but they’re still quite the sight to see.

© Photo Katarina Wohlfart | www.antligenvilse.seMe preparing our standard lunch while doing another hike © Photo by Katarina Wohlfart

One of the rocks normally hidden by the water in Illouette falls is now dried out and situated in the sun so we sit down to enjoy a second breakfast / early lunch. What we usually had while out and about was sandwiches with tomatoes, red onion and tuna. What’s your go to snack for hikes?

Before setting off on this journey, I went to Naturkompaniet and invested in a Leatherman. It really came in handy for things like opening cans or bottles and slicing vegetables. It feels good to always have it in my pack as a part of my basic equipment.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.comLow water levels in Illuoette falls

After lunch the trail starts to slope uphill & the hike becomes more strenuous. This has us to walk in silence and focus on our steps, putting one foot in front of the other and just listen to the sound of nature.

We meet one person doing the hike from the valley floor to the top and further down the trail we encounter two more couples emerge through the foliage. But other than that we are still all alone. Except for all of the curious squirrels of course; Perched on tree trunks or rocks they watch us from a distance until we get too close and then they dart away.

We also see a beautiful Stellers’s Jay jumping around amongst the fallen leaves, it’s blue colors offering a wonderful contrast to the warm hues of autumn.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.comThe views along the Panorama Trail are beyond amazing and of course we have to stop and enjoy it all.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

I ate a crazy amount of Clif Bars during my stay in Yosemite. They come in so many delicious flavors and really provide you with protein and energy whilst being active + they are easy to carry with you when hiking.

And not only do they offer a great product, but Clif Bars also do what they can to have a sustainable production which I value greatly and it feels so good to support them.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

My dear friend Katarina, thank you for being such a fun travel and hiking company, and for helping me get shots of myself when I was too lazy to use my tripod (which was almost all the time) ♥︎

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

As I hike it’s not just my feet moving me forward, I feel my mind wander as well. My thoughts go here and there and I think of everything yet nothing in particular. It’s soothing for the soul and it makes me feel free which is why I love hiking so much.

The forests here are the most beautiful ones I’ve ever witnessed. Just like in Sweden it’s mostly coniferous trees and even though the flora is kind of similar to ours, it looks completely different.

The sunlight shines through the trees and I see huge pine cones scattered everywhere. I’m thankful to be here during fall so that I get to experience Yosemite clad in my favorite season.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.comDuring the entire first part of the hike, Half Dome was always visible in some direction. 

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

I felt very pleased with my decision to bring along my Marsden Camera Pack from Millican. It’s perfect for shorter hikes like this one. It fit my camera + lenses, tripod as well as extra clothes and food.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

One of my goals for my trip to the states was to replace my heavy, klinking Klean Kanteen with a Nalgene 

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

We reach Nevada Falls and here we find a lot more people enjoying the views or taking a break. We sit down by the water to enjoy a snack, rest our feet and watch a squirrel eat a small nut of some sorts before we continue onwards.

When leaving this waterfall behind we encounter a lot more people, most of them probably tourists only aiming to get to the fall and then head back down again.

The path starts to decline and become a steep sort of staircase made out of rocks. It’s hard on the feet and knees and I feel myself walking more tensely and focused. It’s definitely challenging but still very enjoyable.

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.comWe’d brought a trail mix that we got down in the valley

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

After hiking downhill for quite some time we reach the last waterfall: Vernal Falls. It’s beautiful even though there’s not a lot of water in it and we take a short break to enjoy the view of the water cascading down the rocks and into the blue-green pool below before we continue down the last mile.

We finally arrive down in the valley again, tired and our feet are sore. We have been hiking for about seven hours and my body is screaming. It is such a wonderful exhausted feeling though, knowing you’ve worked hard and experienced wonderful nature and scenery in the meantime.

We grab a shuttle bus back into the village center where we head into Degnan’s for pizza and a cold beer by the fireplace. Never before has anything tasted so good or felt so rewarding!

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.com

Hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park - Photo © Rania Rönntoft | Northbound Journeys | www.northboundjourneys.comThis sign was at the bottom of the trail and oh boy did it feel good to read how far we’d trekked down, all the way from Glacier Point.

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About Author

Rania Rönntoft lives in Sundsvall where she works as a photographer, content creator and jewellery designer. She loves exploring craft beer and is passionate about nature tourism, slow living and close by adventures.

31 Comments

  • Vara med Naturen Josefin
    4 December, 2017 at 15:56

    Åååh ser fantastiskt ut! När det gäller mat på vandring så varierar det mellan egen-torkade vandringsgrytor och egen torkad hummus med bröd som hettas upp på storkök från att haha vågar knappt inte säga de 🙈 men ja kalla baked beans från en burk.. typ aaaaallt blir ju sååå gott på vandring😁😁

    Reply
    • Northbound Journeys
      5 December, 2017 at 10:34

      Det var fantastiskt! Men oj vad duktig du är som torkar din egna mat, det vill jag lära mig! Alltså baked beans på burk är sjukt gott faktiskt, och jag håller med om att ute i naturen så smakar allt extra bra!

      Reply
  • Ann Rumbleinthearctic
    4 December, 2017 at 18:47

    So beautiful! I am so happy you got to see that wonderful place! I have still never been there, but some day! I hope you can come back to the states sometime, and we can go for a hike together somewhere :)

    Reply
    • Northbound Journeys
      5 December, 2017 at 10:49

      Yeah quite spectacular, I am glad I got to see it too! Have you been to any other National Parks in the states? I hope to come back some time too, coming to visit you and go hiking would be amazing! I do know a visit to Canada will happen soon, hopefully next summer :D Have you been lover to the land of maples?

      Reply
      • Ann Rumbleinthearctic
        8 December, 2017 at 18:19

        Oh Yes! Denali, Yellowstone, Canyonlands, Teton, Mount Rushmore, och Badlands. Wohoo vad kul att du kommer få åka till Kanada. Vi bilade ju genom Kanada, från Alaska då jag flyttade till Madison :)

        Reply
  • Katta Bucketlife
    4 December, 2017 at 20:26

    Jag. Orkar. Inte. Herregud, vilka bilder, vilken plats. Och du är så jävla bra på att ta en med i upplevelsen. Ser fram emot många fler bilder & berättelser från Yosemite <3

    Reply
    • Katta Bucketlife
      4 December, 2017 at 21:45

      (tyckte förresten att jag såg en…kan det ha varit verkligen…en vrålsvart rövtofs där, på bild 11 ovanifrån?)

      Reply
    • Northbound Journeys
      5 December, 2017 at 10:50

      Tack snälla Katta, vad glad jag blir att du tycker om mina bilder och berättelser därifrån <3 Mer kommer!

      Reply
  • Mona
    11 December, 2017 at 09:18

    Magiskt fina bilder! Man blir verkligen äventyrslysten och vill se mer!

    Reply
  • Pia
    20 December, 2017 at 14:46

    Åååh så vackert! Vilken upplevelse! Så mäktig natur❤️

    Reply
  • […] frukost. Katarina och Rania hade vid det här laget påbörjat en dagstur längs Panorama Trail. Rania har skrivit om vandringen här. Kanske inte så mycket att hurra för, för det blev bara några små kexchokladar till frukost. […]

    Reply
  • Linda Engström, 155cm.se
    27 December, 2017 at 14:12

    Det blev just ännu mer uppenbart hur otroligt stor vår jord här. Maffiga bilder

    Reply
  • Ann-Mari
    17 March, 2018 at 13:24

    18 år siden jeg var i Yosemite, men da gikk vi ikke en så lang tur. Drar gjerne tilbake. Herlige bilder :)

    Reply
    • Northbound Journeys
      17 March, 2018 at 14:03

      Oj längesedan, det låter som att det är dags för dig att åka tillbaka då ;) Kan verkligen rekommendera en längre vandring där – magiskt fint! tackar :)

      Reply
  • Hedda / Tenk Koffert
    17 March, 2018 at 13:56

    Åh, wow, for et flott sted! 😍 Vakre bilder! 😍

    Reply
  • Katarina
    17 March, 2018 at 14:05

    Jag inser att jag inte kommenterat här fast jag är med på bild! Vilken upplevelse. Vad har jag mer att säga liksom?

    Reply
    • Northbound Journeys
      17 March, 2018 at 14:10

      haha kanske är det just för att du faktiskt var med och där som det inte finns så mycket mer att säga, det var ju liksom magiskt – vad mer kan man egentligen säga om det hela? :D

      Reply
  • Sophie's World (@SophieOfNorway)
    17 March, 2018 at 20:49

    Spennende tur og flotte bilder. Bodde i USA i over fem år, men kom meg aldri til Yosemite. Setter det definitivt på listen.

    Reply
    • Northbound Journeys
      19 March, 2018 at 11:08

      Ja det ver riktigt härligt, tack – kul att du gillar bilderna! Åh, var i USA bodde du? Tycker absolut du ska besöka Yosemite om du får chansen!

      Reply
  • Bettina - Danish Adventurer
    18 March, 2018 at 10:32

    Sikke smukke naturbilleder. Jeg besøgte dem med min familie i februar 2015 og der var næsten ingen mennesker heller. Det er præcis sådan jeg husker national parken. Absolut bedst at tage dertil i lavsæson.

    Reply
    • Northbound Journeys
      19 March, 2018 at 11:09

      Tack Bettina! Visst är det skönt att besöka sådana platser lite off season så det inte är så mycket folk? Jag vill vara själv i den stora naturen :)

      Reply

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