HIKING IN YOSEMITE
There are many great hikes inside the Park, and a few in our surrounding area.
Some of the short hikes in Yosemite Valley, including Vernal Falls and Mirror Lake are great, and extremely popular! A short walk, well worth the 10 minutes, is to the base of Yosemite Falls. To avoid the crowds in Yosemite Valley, avoid the Village areas at the east end of the Valley and instead park in a pull out along the side of the road and walk out into a meadow or down to the river. You will leave the majority of tourists behind.
In the summer time, the high country, specifically Tuolumne Meadows and the Tioga Pass region are ideal for hiking as it is always a little cooler at the higher elevations, and the majority of the crowds are far behind in Yosemite Valley. Just to name a few; Cathedral Lakes, Gaylor Lakes, Lyell Canyon, and Dog Lake are all terrific hikes, with minimal crowds. A few hikes on the way up to the Tuolumne region include Hardin Lake, North Dome, 10 Lakes Area, and May Lake/Mount Hoffman. There are also some great, short hikes along the Glacier Point Road including Taft Point, & Sentinel Dome. A little longer, lovely hike is to Dewy Point.
Even closer to Sunset Inn, drive about 2 miles to the South Fork of the Tuolumne River on Evergreen Road and you can either walk about ¼ mile downstream for a lovely swimming hole, or go upstream to Carlon Falls, a great hike about 2 or 3 miles round trip!
Below are a few more of our favorite hikes in Yosemite National Park...
One of our most favorite short hikes. Starts at 9,945 foot elevation and quickly ascends one mile on unrelenting uphill switchbacks. Reach the saddle at the top of the ridge and it?s a short downhill stretch to Middle Gaylor Lake, the first of several lovely, high elevation lakes. Above timberline, the few indomitable trees are gnarled and dwarfed in this harsh and habitually windy environment. And yet, you will often find delicate wildflowers here and there, and along water?s edge. The extreme rugged environment of the alpine region is so dramatic, and with the loftiest peaks of the Tuolumne Meadows area to the south appearing to rise right up out of the lake, it seems you are standing on the edge of the world!
Directly east lies massive Mount Dana, at 13,057 feet, the second highest peak in Yosemite. So majestic! A short hike from this first lake to the north takes you outside the park to the remains of an old mine, evidence of Yosemite?s past, including stout remnants of a very weathered stone cabin. Hiking over 10,000 feet can be exhilarating, and it may take your breath away, but totally worth it for the spectacular views!
Moderate, short but steep, 2 mile round trip hike, more if you visit the other lakes or the mine.
Trailhead is just inside the Tioga Pass entrance on the left/west.
Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias
Wind sang through the trees, spotted a couple of bear prints shortly after the thrill of watching a bear run across the highway ahead of us. Only one other hiker shared our trail on this leisurely sunrise hike. Morning is a terrific time to view these beauties, with early light filtering through the trees. Also a great way to avoid the crowds. (The Mariposa Grove, Yosemite?s largest and main Sequoia grove is currently closed for renovation, until spring 2017, so both the Merced and Tuolumne Groves are much busier than usual.) Early is the way to go! Started our hike at a reasonable 8 am, following a yummy breakfast of Sunset Inn fresh eggs! Trail starts out on an old dirt road, level for first ¾ mile, then descends downhill along the old, historic Coulterville road for another mile to the grove of these glorious giants. The smallest of Yosemite?s groves, the Merced boasts only about a dozen Sequoias, with most right next to the trail. Hikers are no longer encouraged to go up and hug a tree, as ground compaction at the base of these ancient giants is now thought to be damaging. At the bottom of the grove there remains a stout old log cabin, gives you a feel for the pioneer era. Happened to be a smoky day, but with no far-off vistas down in the grove, didn?t notice the smoke at all. Great little hike!
Easy, 3 ½ mile hike.
Trailhead on Highway 120 (the Big Oak Flat Road) about 8 miles east of Sunset Inn.