5 Great Hikes To Experience At Yosemite

November 18, 2016 3:12 PM

Mirror Lake Trail (credit: Patrick Pike/Mariposa Lodging)

This article is sponsored and provided by Yosemite.com

mirror lake trail patrick pike yosemite mariposa lodging slide 5 Great Hikes To Experience At Yosemite Mirror Lake Trail (credit: Patrick Pike/Mariposa Lodging)

(YOSEMITE.COM) – There’s no better way to really get up close and experience the sierra wilderness and Yosemite than hiking.

Wherever you are, chances are you’re close to a great hike. There are so many trails in Yosemite National Park and Mariposa County, and so many excellent guide books and maps describing them. Bring a good pair of walking shoes and pick up books or maps of Yosemite, Sierra National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest at the Visitor Centers and stores in Yosemite Park and in Mariposa, Coulterville and other gateway towns.

With over 800 miles of trails in Yosemite National Park, you’ll find the right one for your family or group. Here are the top five featured hikes to experience when you visit Yosemite National Park:

Dewey point Trail Featured 5 Great Hikes To Experience At Yosemite
Dewey Point Trail

Begin by following the McGurk Meadow trail as described. The trail leads downhill 0.8 mile (1.3 km) to McGurk Meadow and the site of an old cabin that belonged to shepherd John McGurk. Continue one mile (1.6 km) past the meadow to reach an intersection with the Pohono Trail. Follow the Pohono Trail west (left) to Dewey Point, 4.1 miles (6.6 km) from the trailhead. Enjoy the unique views of El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Half Dome, and the Yosemite high country. Return the same way, or you can continue on the Pohono Trail west to more viewpoints and eventually the Tunnel View parking area 5.5 miles (8.9 km) beyond Dewey Point.

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Cooks MEadow Yosemite Mariposa Lodging Featured 5 Great Hikes To Experience At Yosemite
Cook’s Meadow Trail

A wonderful short trail that is accessible year round and very flat. It loops from Sentinel Drive parking lot and across from Yosemite Falls.The best time for waterfalls is in the early spring, but this area of the park is equally beautiful in fall when the meadow turns a golden yellow and the black oaks and elms start losing their brightly colored leaves.

Cook’s Meadow is also accessible from shuttle stop #11 (near Sentinel Bridge) or shuttle stop #6 (Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead) This short, easy walk offers stunning views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Sentinel Rock. From the visitor center, walk west along the bicycle path toward Lower Yosemite Fall. At shuttle stop #6, cross the street and follow the bike path, bearing left as the path forks. At Sentinel Bridge parking area (shuttle stop #11), walk out onto the bridge to enjoy a classic view of Half Dome before returning to the parking area. Follow the boardwalk back across the meadow, cross the two streets, and turn right to return to the visitor center.

You can just as easily walk this loop in reverse; a self-guiding brochure is available in front of the visitor center describing the trail in a clockwise direction.

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Yosemite Falls Winter 300x340 5 Great Hikes To Experience At Yosemite
Upper Yosemite Fall Trail

One of Yosemite oldest historic trails (built 1873 to 1877), the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail leads to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall 2,425 feet (739 m) above the Valley floor. Do not stray off the marked path, as you will find steep drops adjacent to the trail. Enjoy spectacular views from Columbia Rock located one mile (and dozens of switchbacks) from the trail head. If you make the one-mile, 1,000 foot climb (via dozens of switchbacks) to Columbia Rock, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock.

Good sun exposure makes this hike a good option for hiking in the fall and winter. Each summer there are numerous first aid response calls to this trail related to dehydration. Do not fail to bring enough drinking water with you for this hike, it is recommended to have at the least 3-4 liters of water per person available when the summer temperatures peak. Approaching the trail pre-dawn is highly recommenced, doing the ascent during mid-day with minimal tree coverage from the sun is unnecessarily difficult. Leaving at 6am would get you to the top during the cool morning temperatures and with less foot traffic to maneuver around.

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Four Mile Trail Featured 5 Great Hikes To Experience At Yosemite
Four Mile Trail

This trail begins near the base of Sentinel Rock and climbs to the top of Yosemite Valley at Glacier Point. The trail maintains a continuous steep grade, following the path of an old toll trail that was completed in 1872. The trail has changed a bit over the years; it is now closer to five miles than four (and of course there is no more toll). Spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and, eventually, Half Dome await those willing to tackle this strenuous trail. Don’t skip the side trip to enjoy the view of Yosemite Valley from Union Point, located a bit over two-thirds of the way up.

The Four Mile Trail ends at Glacier Point, where restrooms, parking, and a snack stand (summer only) are available. You can choose to hike back to Yosemite Valley by reversing your route or by continuing on the Panorama Trail, which brings you to the Happy Isles Trailhead in another 8.5 miles (13.7 km).

If you want to hike one way, make sure you have another member of your party available to drop you off or pick you up at the other end. There is no free shuttle system between Glacier Point and Yosemite Valley. The park concessionaire runs three daily guided bus tours that include a stop at Glacier Point (seasonal late spring and summer only)—you can purchase a tour bus ticket from any tour desk to ride the bus to Glacier Point (hiking back to the Valley). You should purchase this ticket in advance to guarantee your space, but advance tickets are only available if riding the bus from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point. There is no way to guarantee space riding from Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley; tickets in this direction can only be purchased in cash from the bus driver if space is available.

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Mirror Lake 5 Great Hikes To Experience At Yosemite
Mirror Lake/Meadow

From the shuttle stop, a paved trail leads directly to Mirror Lake. At the stone bridge, you can turn right to take the five-mile loop or remain on the paved trail to continue to Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake has little water much of the year, but in spring and early summer it can grow in size. When water is calm, the lake offers beautiful reflections of surrounding cliffs. Exhibits detail the story of the area’s lake-to-meadow succession. This can be a good place to spot wildlife like coyotes and bobcats. This is a great hike in Yosemite to do in the fall and winter because the trail is accessible year round. This is also a great option for biking. You can bike nearly the whole trail to Mirror Lake except for the last 1/4 mile. You will see bike racks at the point in the trail when bikes are no longer allowed.

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