Easy Hikes in Yosemite National Park, California

Easy Hikes in Yosemite National Park

Six Easy Day Hikes in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is considered one of the most beautiful parks in California.  It's said that in Yosemite you'll find one of the most amazing waterfalls in the state.  It got me really excited as we'd planned to go there with numerous failed attempts: no available campground spots, forest fires, closure due to the ashy air quality, and, of course, the infamous COVID virus.  Finally, things went according to plan and we were able to drive to Yosemite in October 2020. Let’s go! 

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts Booking.com for reasonable prices.


Sidenote about us: little did we know I was already pregnant with our little boy during this visit.  I was puzzled why I was feeling tired, moody, and sleepy; so my very understanding husband decided we do the easy hikes.  Therefore, these six hiking trails are doable for an early first-trimester pregnant lady so even beginner hikers can manage these hikes.  

First things first...

What you need to know before visiting Yosemite National Park

1. As of 2023, a Reservation is NOT needed to enter the park. 

(The reservation was imposed back then due to safety and pandemic protocols.  Normally, you don't need a reservation.  The reservation fee is 2 USD per vehicle and is valid for 7 consecutive days.  You must register an account with recreation.gov and get a vehicle permit.  Check out the Yosemite Park website for the latest updates).

2. You will need a PARK PASS.  This is available at the Yosemite Park Entrance and costs around 35 USD per vehicle.  However, if you plan on visiting more than one national park for a year, you might as well get an Annual National Park Pass for 80 USD which is valid for a year with access to other national parks like Grand Canyon, Sequoia National Park, and more. The annual pass is available at REI or Big 5 stores.  We have the annual pass which saved us time at the entrance station.  Knowing that we're supporting our national forests makes us really happy.

3. Make sure to check ROAD CONDITIONS in advance by calling 209-372-0200. Press 1 then 1.  Also, check on the WEATHER CONDITION which can be found here at National Weather Service.

4. We brought our own FOOD supplies for convenience.  There's also a grocery store inside the visitor center if you need more supplies; however, due to the pandemic, there will be a line going inside the store. 

5. There are plenty of  ACCOMMODATIONS in Yosemite: campgrounds, inns, hotels, and motels.  You need to reserve 3-6 months ahead of time for the campgrounds unless you're lucky enough to find a cancellation.  We booked a lodge at Mariposa, the closest town to Yosemite Park.  This is located all the way outside the park so expect some driving. 

Where to Stay in Yosemite

  • Check-in: Mother Lode Lodge 
  • Address: 5051 CA-140, Mariposa, CA 95338
  • 4 days 3 nights for 300 USD

We stayed at Mother Lodge as all the campsites were booked and only limited camps were available due to the pandemic. The lodge is conveniently close to restaurants, souvenir shops, and a gas station. 

  • Drive from Mother Lodge to Yosemite National Park: 1 hour

Gas ahead of time at Mariposa if you want to save some money.  There's a Chevron on the endless road to the visitor center; but of course, expect the price to be really high.

Yosemite 3 Day itinerary in Fall

Mirror Lake Yosemite
Behind me is the bone-dry Mirror Lake and the awesome view of Half Dome. Half Dome is a popular granite rock formation that lies on the east end of Yosemite Valley.  If you want to hike Half Dome, you will need to get a permit obtained through a lottery process.

First Day Hike: Mirror Lake Loop
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm

How to get there: follow the signs and trail map given at the park entrance
Location: Near Yosemite Valley
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation:  147 ft
Duration: 1 hour
Highlights: Mirror Lake and view of Half Dome

Yosemite National Park
On our way to Mirror Lake, we saw this beautiful bridge and stayed there for a few minutes to take some photos.

Yosemite National Park
After we finished the hike, we passed by this kinda "Game of Thrones" felt tree roots along the paved road.

Bridalveil Falls Trail Yosemite
The Bridalveil Falls during October.  If you want to see more of its watery veil, visit in May or June.  From the street parking area to this view was a very short walk.  The trail is cut off short from here due to construction.

Second Day Hike: Bridalveil Falls
10:30 - 11:30 am

How to get there: (Our hike was cut short due to construction).
Location: Near Yosemite Valley
All trails route: Bridalveil Falls Trail 
Distance: 0.5 miles
Elevation: 85 ft
Duration: 15 minutes
Highlights: Bridalveil Falls and view of El Capitan

Bridalveil Falls Trail
El Capitan is located on the opposite side of Bridalveil Falls.  El Capitan is an iconic vertical rock on the west end side of Yosemite Valley. T his majestic granite rock formation is about 3,000 feet above the valley floor and is a favorite spot for rock climbers.

Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
The glorious Yosemite Falls with no water flowing on it and with no interruptions.  We only saw three hikers here, a group of bike riders passing by, and a family having a picnic.   It's best to catch the falls in May or June after the snow melts but expect a crowd of people on summer days.

Third Hike: Lower Yosemite Falls
Lunch @ Falls View
11:45 am - 12:45 pm

How to get there: 
Location: Near Yosemite Valley
All trails route: Lower Yosemite Falls Trail 
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation: 59 ft
Duration: 30 minutes
Highlights: Lower Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
Another viewing area is Lower Yosemite Falls Trail.  There's a bench here where you can grab a bite and just look at the magnificent rock formation in front of you.

Vernal Falls Trail
From the footbridge, you will see Vernal Falls here during the summer season.  Vernal Falls is a beautiful 317-foot waterfall on the Merced River located in Yosemite Valley.

Fourth Hike: Vernal Falls
1:30 - 2:30 pm

How to get there: (Our hike was cut short due to a trail closure).
Location:  Near Yosemite Valley
All trails route: Vernal Falls Trail 
Distance: miles
Elevation:  59 ft
Duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Highlights: Vernal Falls 

Vernal Falls Trail
During our hike, the famous Mist Trail was closed so we took the John Muir Trail.

Vernal Falls Trail
A scenic route to Vernal Falls.

Taft point Trail
Lunch break view of the magnificent Yosemite Valley.

Third-Day: Fifth Hike - Taft Point
1:30 - 2:30 pm

How to get there: 
Location: Near Yosemite Valley
All trails route: Taft Point and the fissures
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 374 ft
Duration: 1 hour
Highlights: Overlooking view of Taft Point 

Tuolumne Grove Trail
Tuolumne Grove is the first stop along Tioga Road.  This is part of the Tioga Pass which is on the eastern side of Yosemite National Park. 

Sixth Hike: Tuolumne Grove

How to get there: 
Location:  Near Yosemite Valley, Tioga Road
All trails route:  Tuolumne Grove Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation:  374 ft
Duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Highlights: Overlooking view of Taft Point 

Tuolumne Grove Trail
A Sequoia tree standing tall and mighty can be seen in this grove.  This is a great introduction to our next hiking trip to Sequoia National Park.

Sunset Tioga Road
Sunset along Tioga Road was a perfect way to end this trip.

Do you want more adventure?
Check out the easiest trail in Malibu the Topanga Lookout Trailhead, California.

Where am I going next?

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