Goat Meadow’s notoriety comes primarily from the winter and its reputation as a family-friendly snow play area. However, beyond the nearby hills that make for exciting sledding trails, lies a vast network of trails throughout this corner of the Sierra Nevada.
During winter the small parking area just outside Yosemite’s south entrance gate is packed with families and kids bundled in puffy jackets and snow pants. Everyone is laughing and cheering each other on as they careen down the many gentle snow slopes on sleds. Snow people and other sculptures sprout everywhere.
In a good snow year, all of this great family snow recreation is just steps from the car, so you’re just a quick turn of a key from a heater if you need to warm up. However, during sunny Sierra days the temperature is usually mild and you’ll find many families picnicking near their vehicles so they can grab a bite or a quick drink in between sledding runs.
Beyond the easily accessible snow play, you will find an intricate network of National Forest trails, perfect for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Although once signed, many of the old wooden signs have now fallen down so you’ll want a good map or GPS for navigation. The roads are also a fun place for a family mountain bike ride during the warmer months.
If you choose your twists and turns right, there is even a way that leads to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. While mountain biking isn’t allowed in the National Park, if you stash your bike at the border it’s an easy hike in to see the heart of the lower grove and famous trees like the Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree. Keep the going along the trail to reach the lesser-visited upper grove where trees like the Faithful Couple, Clothespin Tree and the Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree reside.
Note: There are minimal services at Goat Meadow other than a portapotty, but you can find places to eat just up the street at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.