The changing of the seasons in Yosemite is never so stark as the shift from the busy masses of visitors that enjoy the park in June, July and August to the early fall when a quiet calm rests over the valley. The once simmering hot summer days mellow into cool mornings and gently warm afternoons. In short, it’s the perfect time to go hiking in Yosemite. Here we have selected our favorite fall Yosemite hikes:
1. Sentinel Dome and Taft Point – One of the most stunning views of Yosemite Valley is from the very famous view from Glacier Point but did you know you can get a similar view (and a lot more) from checking out Sentinel Dome and Taft Point Trails?
Both are fairly easy and short but offer amazing views. Take a head lamp and picnic dinner to enjoy the sunset.
Vernal Fall in September
2. Vernal Fall – Most waterfalls in the park dry up by the time fall arrives but Vernal Fall rarely disappoints. It’s also great for a variety of fitness levels because you can go as far as you want from a 1.6 mile roundtrip hike just the base of the falls, to a heart-pumping 2.4 roundtrip mile to the top of Vernal Fall, or if you really want a challenge push all the way to Nevada Fall, a strenuous but rewarding 5.4 mile roundtrip hike. Start at the Happy Isles trailhead (shuttle stop #16).
3. Mirror Lake – An easy two-mile roundtrip hike brings you to Mirror Lake, which regardless of whether there is water in the little lake or not, provides a beautiful view of Mount Watkins and a vision of Half Dome from directly below. Take shuttle stop #17 to enjoy this hike or you can even rent a bike and ride it almost to the very end of the trail where there are bike racks. This trail is also one that allows for leashed pets on the first mile, so take your furry friend along.
Bike or hike the Yosemite Valley Loop
4. Valley Loop Trail – Mostly flat, but covering more than 11 miles if you do the full loop, the Valley Loop trail offers a moderate hike that brings you past Lower Yosemite Fall, Three Brothers Rock formation, past Camp 4 and onto El Capitan. It is a fantastic year-round hike. You can start from multiple spots around the Valley but the official start is at Lower Yosemite Fall (follow signs for the Valley Loop Trail).
5. Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias – Open as long as the road to Tioga Pass is open (generally through mid-October) this trail is a 2.5 mile jaunt along a paved road to a little grove of beautiful giant sequoias. You’ll find the trailhead at the Tuolumne Grove parking lot just past Crane Flat.
For more information on all of Yosemite National Park and Mariposa County’s gorgeous hiking trails, click here.
When the sun goes down and the waterfalls are rushing in Yosemite, an amazing experience takes place when the Yosemite Moonbow comes out at night.
Whether it’s taking a walk in the crisp, fresh air to count your blessings, or photographing Half Dome floating like gold in the still waters of Mirror Lake, reflections abound in Yosemite National Park.
El Portal may seem to be a sleepy little town along Highway 140 just outside the Yosemite National Park gate, but there are loads of fun activities and surprises for all ages to be found on and off the beaten track.