Yosemite National Park is one of the top backpacking destinations in the world so if you are in any way so inclined bring your backpack. Even if you have just been thinking of giving it a try, it's a great place to do it with trails for all levels. There are also countless hikes of shorter duration if you are just looking to day hike.
Equipment: Backpacking requires the proper equipment. You will be walking in the wilderness and will need to be self-reliant. A good quality tent is essential in most terrains and unless it's unlikely to rain, make sure it's properly sealed. A proper sleeping mat is another thing not to scrimp on. It not only makes it more comfortable, it acts as an insulator to keep you warm. Your sleeping bag is your life line to keep you warm and get you warm if you develop hypothermia. A compact stove can be viewed as optional but if hiking at elevation, a warm meal and beverage can be a life saver, not just something nice to eat. You'll need a good pack to carry everything and of course, all the clothes and gear you'd need for any type of mountain day hiking.
Let's see . . . what is there to do in Yosemite? It's not all about staring at gorgeous vistas or leisurely strolling through a meadow. For the more adventurous there are tons of options. Here's a list for you that includes activities for every season . . . biking, climbing, rafting, stable rides, backpacking, camping, fishing, golfing, hiking, swimming, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing and snowshoeing.
For more details see the website below.
One of the more mellow /moderate hikes in Yosemite Valley is to Mirror Lake and back. There are two paths to take you there -- one is a dirt trail, over rocks and through the trees. Very beautiful. The other is a paved bike path, considerably easier to walk and still pretty, but not as beautiful. When you hike the dirt trail, you'll share with horseback riders, so be aware of that.
Mirror Lake is at the base of Half Dome, and at one time acted as a beautiful reflecting pool of Half Dome. Over the years it has silted in and it's quite as reflective as it once was. It is, however, still beautiful.
And, of course, if you visit Yosemite in late Summer, there isn't any water in the lake at all. Instead you can walk to the middle of the "lake" and relax on it's soft sand, while gazing up the sheer face of Half Dome and meditating on life
Turn around and try to spy the rock climbers on the cliffs opposite Half Dome.
Equipment: Good walking shoes, water, sun screen and mosquito repellent.
One of the most habitual activities in the park is climbing, we saw lots of groups preparing for it. As it was summer and too hot for serious climbing, the lowest ones were more busier than the big ones.
Yosemite is a hiker's paradise. Even if you don't have the time, experience or inclination to take an extended jaunt through Yosemite's beautiful backcountry, there are hundreds of trails of varying lengths of difficulty in Yosemite Valley and Tuolomne that can be done in an hour or several. There are a few trails the originate from Glacier Point and environs, such as the Taft Point and Sentinel Dome hikes, which are short, relatively easy but extremely rewarding.
Most of Yosemite's shorter trails are well marked and easy to follow. Some involve scrambling over rocks or steep uphills, but, on the whole, these trails are not too taxing. Plus, the view of the valley below or a thundering cascade of water from above are well worth the effort of a few breathless minutes of struggling up a trail.
Some trails, such as this short one to Bridal Veil Falls, involve crossing over large rocks. Although it looks relatively easy to scramble up and jump from rock to rock, the slippery surfaces make it easy to lose your footing and fall. I saw some people wearing sandals and flip flops do just that and I would advise against it. Throw on a pair of hiking boots or sneakers if you have them before you attempt to cross this slippery path.
Compared to hiking across granite rocks or trails strewn with pebbels, hiking on the dome surfaces is a treat. The smooth glacier carved surface provides excellent traction, making it less likely that you'll fall. The real trick involved in hiking on domes is not to look down, especially if you're afraid of heights.
The Valley is mostly flat and that makes it so easy to cycle along the roads and bike paths. You get to some really lonely spots where no buses go, and it's just you and the odd hiker. It's such a great experience, the clean fresh air, the sunshine, the mountains, the scenery etc.
Cycling is not allowed on most of the trails.
Equipment: You can rent a bike at Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village. I paid around 10 $ for 2 hours cycling.
Bikes are not great, but okay for the paths you will be cycling.
At over 8600 feet in elevation, Tuolumne Meadows offers a break from the heat and some of th crowds commonly found in Yosemite Valley. Because of its elevation, temperatures in Tuolumne average 15 to 20 degrees cooler than Yosemite Valley.
During our visit to the park we made 2 hikes and stayed for a while in Yosemite Valley. The first hike was over the Tuolumne Meadows. This is the largest alpine pasture of the Sierra's. The bright green colour form a beautiful contrast to the bald granite rock peaks surrounding it. Some peaks retain snow throughout the summer and therefore provide breathtaking views. It was quite a flat hike and took us via the log-cabin of the Sierra Club to a water well, the so calles Soda Springs.
The water comes right out of the ground and is ready for consumption. We tried it, but the iron level in the water is very high and therefore doesn't it taste too well, but it's very, very healthy.
Equipment: Have a look at Yosemite National Park Packing List.
We spent an afternoon by Tenaya Lake, it was lots of fun, we found this body of water right next to the lake, like a small whitewater rafting area, that allowed us to put our kids in an inflatable boat and let them float down (we had them on a string of course). The around scenery was beautiful, lots of trees and mountains. Fun time!
Many people visit Yosemite for the climbing opportunities. The vertical grantie walls would probably challenge anyone and would hopefully scare off an amateur. But even if you're not into climbing, if you have binoculars with you, take a close look at some of these walls, especially El Capitan, and you can watch the tiny figures inching their way to the top.
Mysterious woods and enormous steep rock faces definately contribute to the popularity of Yosemite. About 3 million tourists visit Yosemite every year which makes it the best visited National Park of California.
When we drove the Tioga Pass (at 9.945 feet the highest motor vehicle pass in California) we noticed a number of scenic turnouts and parking areas. Mostly located along the Tioga Road. We had a difficult decision to make wheather we would stop at Tenaya Lake or Tuolumne Meadows. Finally the last option became our favorite, don't ask us why, it was just a feeling.
We didn't feel sorry about it, as we soon learned that Tuolumne Meadows is the perfect place to lose yourself/ It's just a proof that nearly 95 percent of Yosemite National Park is officially designated as wilderness.
Equipment: Have a look at Yosemite National Park Packing List.
This hike loops the valley floor. The total hike is 13 miles but has a good half way mark to make the 6.5 miles. It is a beautiful trail, very easy to hike BUT very difficult to find, especially near the village and camp 4. One main problem is the lack of signage throughout the trail but especially in the more popullar areas near Yosemite Falls. I actually spoke to 4 different rangers and None of them can actually give good directions as to finding a good starting point.
One good thing is you really can't get lost. The loop runs the same route as the North bound and south bound drives, crossing the road several times and there are only a few locations where you can't actually hear traffic on the road. More signage would make it more enjoyable and not waste a bunch of time trying to figure out what side trail is the actual route.
This is a popular, but pretty strenuous day hike. Half Dome is over 8,000 feet tall. The hike to the summit involves an elevation gain of 4,900 feet over about 8 and a half miles. The final push to the top is steep and rocky; cables have been set up to assist with the ascent and descent.
Although this is on my list of must do things, I wasn't able to squeeze it in since the hike involves at least one very full day. I'm hoping to go back and do this one at a later time and bring back a picture from the top.