In the unique landscapes of Yosemite, you can take part in an adventure similar to that John Muir experienced when first coming to this incredibly beautiful wilderness area. Hiking some of the paths and trails available puts you right up close to some of the most gorgeous scenery anywhere, in my opinion.
You can take a leisurely stroll or push yourself a bit with a more strenuous trek. But whatever hike you choose from the more than 800 miles of trails, it's guaranteed to show you some breathtaking sights and give you the outdoor experience you desire.
East Valley Floor Loop
My favorite hike is the East Valley Floor loop, with spectacular views of the Royal Arches, Yosemite Falls and the North Dome. You will also see massive El Capitan and move along beside the Merced River, sometimes tranquil and sometimes wild. Visit Happy Isles Nature Center on your way. It's a thrilling little hike for folks of all ages.
- Trailhead: Camp 4 or Shuttle Stop 7
- Distance: 2.6 miles
- Time: 1-4 hours
Mirror Lake/Meadow Trail
On the Mirror Lake/Meadow trail, you'll find some impressive views with reflections in the lake. Bring your camera, because you won't want to miss some fabulous opportunity at some amazing photos. The lake is slowly and naturally turning into a meadow, with the story detailed in exhibits you can view on your way. Spot some wildlife in this area, too.
- Trailhead: Mirror Lake Trailhead at Shuttle Stop 17
- Distance: 3 miles
- Time: 1-2 hours
Swinging Bridge Loop
The Swinging Bridge Loop is a moderate trail that loops around to bring you back where you started. The bridge really does swing, so is aptly named! I recommend this nice hike through Yosemite so you can get the feel of the early days and how the settlers must have felt walking through these woods. Be sure to stop in to see the Pioneer Yosemite History Center while you're there, for a short self-guided tour to learn about the history of Yosemite.
- Trailhead: The Pioneer Yosemite History Center at the covered bridge
- Distance: 4.8 miles
- Time: 2 hours
Lembert Dome is a popular feature of Tuolumne Meadows and something to see! Your hike will take you to the top, where you can get some breathtaking views. Look out over Tuolumne Meadows and see Cathedral Peak. But take some good boots for it gets a little rough near the top. It's still an easy hike, but if you don't like heights, you may want to avoid this one.
- Trailhead: The Dog Lake/John Muir Trail parking area
- Distance: 3.2 miles
- Time: 2-3 hours
Soda Springs/Parsons Lodge
The Soda Springs/Parsons Lodge hike is a great way to see all of Tuolumne Meadows, where John Muir originally conceived of the idea of this being a national park. You will see the Soda Springs, and witness the carbonated bubbles of water that come up through the earth. It's an enjoyable sight and unusual. If you need a short break during your hike, you and the family can stop at the Parsons Memorial Lodge to see some fascinating exhibits.
- Trailhead: Lembert Dome parking area
- Distance: 1.5 miles
- Time: 1 hour
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