Best Day Hikes In The Sierra Nevada, California

California’s Sierra Nevada is home to some of the most amazing national parks and the most stunning trails within this large and diverse state. Having spent a year in the Bay Area and taking hiking getaways to the Sierras whenever we could, we’re here to show you the best day hikes we found.

Whenever we think of California, our first thought is the ocean and our second is the Sierra Nevada. We love hiking! When we feel that solitude and beauty of high mountain peaks and crystal clear lakes, or listen to the whistle of the wind, or feel the tranquility of deep woods, everything seems to be right in this world. So let us show you some ways to paradise… 🙂

The mountains are calling and I must go.”

John Muir
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Half Dome in the sunset, Yosemite National Park

Quick & useful facts about the Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada mountain range is home to three amazing national parks – Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park – and several wilderness areas. It’s also home to Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, and Mount Whitney (14505 ft / 4421 m), the highest peak in the contiguous United States.

Magnificent skyline, hundreds of crystal clear alpine lakes and creeks, breathtaking waterfalls, giant trees and spectacular granite peaks make it a place which stole our heart at first sight.

Panorama Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

The best time to hike in the Sierra Nevada

High season for hiking is undoubtedly summer. You’re almost 100% guaranteed with clear and sunny days in the summer months, however, never forget you’re in the high mountains. Due to a sudden thunderstorm, temperatures can fall to dangerous levels any time of the year, especially at higher elevations.

Sierra Nevada means “Snowy Mountain” in Spanish, and there’s indeed snow in the winter, you can even find ski resorts. Except for some major roads, everything else is closed though. But those major roads lead you to spectacular places where it’s easy to take a walk even in winter – like Yosemite Valley or the Giant Forest Trail of Sequoia National Park.

waterfalls of Yosemite National Park, CA, USA

It’s delightful to have a waterfall hunt in the Sierra Foothills in spring, and the large waterfalls of Yosemite National Park are best to be seen in May or early June. Lots of waterfalls are fed by melting snow, so they dry out by the end of June.

Here they come: our favorite day hikes

In each of these posts below we share our experience about our favorite hikes one by one  – along with pictures, length, difficulty and other useful info.

Click on them to read more:

Do you have any favorite day hike in the Sierra Nevada?

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By Beata Urmos

Bea is the co-founder of Our Wanders. She’s the writer and the trip organizer, and she’d love to help you plan your own amazing trips! She likes hiking, good novels and chocolate, as well. Her motto is: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John A. Shedd)


  1. A beautiful place. The snow looks like sparkling crystals in the sun. We went here on a coach trip but only spent an hour here. Really needed a bit longer as we would have like to have had time to go higher up the mountain on one of the cable cars. However this was only a taster and as it’s only around an our from where we live, will be going back at some point to explore. I believe it is also a nice place to go in the summer months, so may even do that.

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