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Do You Need Hiking Boots for Yosemite National Park?

hiking boots for yosemite

If you’re planning on doing any hiking while you’re in Yosemite, it’s a good idea to bring along a pair of sturdy hiking boots. The terrain can be quite rugged in some places, and quite wet in others, and having a good pair of boots will help you stay safe and comfortable while you’re out on the trails. While Yosemite is generally a safe park, it’s still important to be prepared. So do you need hiking boots for Yosemite? You should definitely wear some sturdy hiking boots here, no matter which trail you embark on.

More specifically, there are a few trails in particular where hiking boots are essential, which are the Mist Trail and Half Dome, and I’ll cover them in more detail below.

Do I Need Hiking Boots for The Mist Trail?

Getting ready to ascend the Mist Trail with my worn-down & beaten-up sneakers.

Before I climbed the Mist Trail, I was told plenty of times that it gets slippery, even with just water misting the rocks. I was also told to bring sturdy footwear.

And I didn’t. But let me tell you now, I wish I had listened to them. It wasn’t so much that it was slippery, but the mist on the incredibly long granite staircase made the rocks incredibly slick, and my shoes just didn’t have the grip I needed.

On top of that, my shoes already had almost no traction because the soles were worn down. There were a few occasions on the 600-step staircase when I lost my footing because my shoes had no grip.

I don’t need to tell you how scary that was. Good thing I had my wife by my side! When you are up 2,000 feet in the air, on a narrow and wet granite staircase, the last thing you want is to be worrying about your footing.

So yes, you should wear hiking boots for the Mist Trail. The trail can be slippery and treacherous in places, especially when the waterfalls are out in full force, and having a good pair of boots with a sturdy grip will help you stay safe.

Do I Need Hiking Boots for Half Dome?

If you’re planning on trekking up Half Dome, you’ll definitely need a good pair of hiking boots.

First off, hiking to Half Dome is a long trek. You’re looking at 16 miles round-trip, with an elevation gain of almost 5,000 feet. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and a lot of uphill climbing.

But more importantly, the last stretch or so of the hike is incredibly steep, with worn-down granite from all the hikers over the years. This section is called the “Sub Dome,” and it’s where most accidents have occurred.

In fact, there have been multiple fatalities on Half Dome throughout the years, and most of them have been because people slipped on wet granite while hiking half-dome during wet weather.

So, in short, yes, you absolutely need a good pair of hiking boots for Half Dome. The hike is long and strenuous, and the Sub Dome can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful or prepared.

The NPS recommends wearing broken-in boots with good ankle support and good traction for a half-dome hike. They also say that most injuries on the trail are from blisters and ankle injuries.

Do I Need Hiking Boots for Yosemite in The Winter?

During the wintertime, Yosemite can be a completely different place. The trails are often covered in snow and ice, and the temperatures can be quite chilly. For this reason, it’s essential to have a good pair of boots that will keep your feet warm and dry, while also providing traction on icy surfaces.

I would also recommend bringing along some sort of shoe or boot spikes/crampons to help with traction. These are especially helpful on the John Muir Trail, which can be quite icy in places during the wintertime.


In conclusion, if you’re planning on doing any hiking while you’re in Yosemite, it’s a good idea to bring along a pair of sturdy hiking boots. For safety and comfort, a good pair of boots is essential for hiking in the more rugged and wet areas of the park.

More specifically, if you plan on hiking the Mist Trail or Half Dome, or even if you’re hiking in Yosemite during the wintertime, it’s essential to have a good pair of boots with you.

Happy hiking!

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