Are you interested in exploring Yosemite National Park but don’t exactly feel like scaling El Capitan? You’ll be glad to know that you can find many easy hikes in Yosemite that the whole family can enjoy. From rushing waterfalls to towering rock formations, you don’t need to be a professional rock climber to see what this beautiful park has to offer.
We’ll explore the best easy hikes in Yosemite and discuss everything you need to know to enjoy them. Let’s dive in.
Hiking In Yosemite: What to Expect
Regardless of where you hike, you’ll be surrounded by awe-inspiring views of Yosemite’s imposing domes and peaks, waterfalls, meadows, and vistas.
This makes Yosemite a fantastic National Park for visitors of every age and ability. You won’t have to look hard to find the many picturesque viewpoints.
Are There Easy Hikes in Yosemite?
When you think of Yosemite National Park, you might envision rugged rock-climbers braving the dangerous heights of El Capitan and Half Dome. Luckily, this isn’t all Yosemite has to offer. This popular national park has many easy hikes ranging from a paved half-mile trail to a 2.5-mile loop around a striking crystal-clear lake.
You won’t have to hike for miles up to a high elevation to enjoy fantastic views, either. People of all ages and abilities can capture spectacular photos and have fun doing it.
7 Easy Hikes in Yosemite With Scenic Views
Below, we take a closer look at seven easy hikes in Yosemite. Each one has something different to offer. You can find one that fits your hiking style and quenches your thirst for adventure. Let’s begin.
1. Glacier Point
About This Hike: Glacier Point Trail is a fantastic hike if you want a lot of bang for your buck. It’s only 0.6 miles long, but the end will leave you speechless.
This incredibly accessible trail has a parking area that offers plenty of space for vans and other vehicles. It’s paved and about 6 ft wide, providing plenty of room for wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get to the Trailhead: To get to the trailhead from the South Entrance, turn right onto Glacier Point Road from Highway 41. Then, drive about 15 miles, and you’ll reach the parking lot.
If you access the park from the West Entrance, take Highway 41 toward Mariposa Grove. Then, turn left onto Glacier Point Road.
Don’t Miss: If Glacier Point is on your itinerary, make sure you traverse it until the end. After taking a short walk, you’ll stumble upon some of the best views in the park.
This includes Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley, Clouds Rest, and Half Dome. It’s a must-see.
2. Lower Yosemite Falls
About This Hike: Are you looking for an easy hike that will take you to the tallest waterfall in North America? Well, look no further. Lower Yosemite Falls trail is 1.2 miles long and made of asphalt or wooden boardwalk. It is about 4 ft wide and rarely gets above a 5% grade in steepness. It takes about 30 minutes to complete this hike.
How to Get to the Trailhead: From Arch Rock Entrance, follow Highway 140 into the park and bear right when the road forks, passing Yosemite Chapel.
Then, stay left going towards Yosemite Village and the visitor center, and take a left onto Northside Drive. After about 0.75 miles, you’ll reach the Lower Yosemite Falls Parking area. If you take the shuttle, get off on stop number seven.
Don’t Miss: You’ll find amazing views of both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls along this hike and a great shot of Middle Cascade. Just make sure to visit in the spring or early summer, as the waterfalls tend to dry up in late summer and early Fall.
Pro Tip: Make your trip to Yosemite perfect with these 5 Tips for Visiting National Parks in Your RV.
3. Sentinel & Cook’s Meadow Loop
About This Hike: Sentinel and Cook’s Meadow loop trail runs through the center of it all. The route is about 2 miles long and accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. However, it has steeper portions at the 0.2 and 1.7 markers (about an 8% grade).
How to Get to the Trailhead: From Yosemite Valley, follow Southside Drive east until you see the sign for the swinging bridge. Here, you’ll find parking in any available spots. Follow Northside Drive west for an accessible, paved parking lot.
Don’t Miss: This easy hike in Yosemite runs through a gorgeous, open meadow. As you walk along the picturesque boardwalk, you can gaze upon views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, and Sentinel Rock.
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4. Taft Point
About This Hike: Taft Point is an out-and-back trail that spans approximately 2.3 miles. It’s not wheelchair accessible, but it is a fantastic hike to do with the kids.
It’s very clearly marked and reaches an elevation gain of 367 ft, making it a relatively easy trail for all ages. But be cautious when you reach Taft Point; it has no railings.
How to Get to the Trailhead: To get to the trailhead for Taft Point, follow Highway 41 to Glacier Point Road. After 13 miles, you’ll find a well-marked trailhead for Taft Point. If you get to the end of Glacier Point Road, you’ve gone too far.
Don’t Miss: The hike to Taft Point is short and sweet, but it’s rewarding at the end. You’ll see spectacular views of Yosemite Valley and El Capitan when you reach the point. Make sure to take plenty of pictures.
5. Bridalveil Fall
About This Hike: Bridalveil Falls trail is an easy, in-and-out trail that spans 1.2 miles. While you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy this trail, it has about 200 ft of elevation gain, and the trail can become slippery due to the mist coming off the falls.
How to Get to the Trailhead: Take Highway 41 from Yosemite Valley until you reach the Bridalveil Falls parking lot, which comes up quickly after turning onto route 41.
Don’t Miss: It’s the mist that’s the real attraction when it comes to the Bridalveil Falls. The waterfall gets its name from how the mist creates a “veil-like” pattern across the rocks.
While not the biggest and most picturesque waterfall in Yosemite, it’s a great hike if you want to get up-close and personal. Plus, you can cool off in the summer heat.
Pro Tip: Before you take your furry friends hiking in Yosemite, make sure to find out Do Any National Parks Allow Dogs?
6. Tuolumne Meadows
About This Hike: Do you want to frolic through a picturesque meadow as you gaze upon the beautiful domes and peaks of Yosemite National Park? If so, try out the Tuolumne Meadows trail.
It’s a 2-mile hike with little to no elevation gain. It mostly has flat dirt, gravel, and grass terrain. This is a fantastic hike for the whole family, and it makes for a great picnicking spot.
How to Get to the Trailhead: From Yosemite Valley, take Highway 120 to Tioga Road. Then, follow it for 38 miles until you reach the meadows. You’ll find parking scattered along the meadow and on the shoulders of the road.
Don’t Miss: As you walk through the meadow, don’t forget to look up. Because of the wide-open area, you can see the beauty of Yosemite from all around.
Don’t miss the gorgeous views of Lembert Dome and Cathedral Peak as you visit the Tuolumne River Bridge and Soda Springs. You won’t get bored on this hike.
7. Tenaya Lake
About This Hike: Tenaya Lake trail is a 2.5-mile loop around Tenaya Lake. Besides its length, this hike is relatively easy because it has no elevation gain.
It has stunning views but is relatively far from Yosemite Valley, making it a much less crowded destination than the other short hikes.
How to Get to the Trailhead: From Yosemite Valley, take Highway 120 to Tioga Road. Then, drive 31 miles east until you reach the lake.
Don’t Miss: It’s not hard to imagine what you’ll find at Tenaya Lake. As you walk along the crystal clear body of water, you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful peaks and domes that border the lake.
Make sure to stop and take pictures at the west end. It provides a magical photo op of the granite promontories on the east end of the lake.
Can You See Yosemite National Park Attractions Without Hiking?
What if I can’t (or don’t want to) hike at all? Can I still enjoy Yosemite National Park? Absolutely! The park has plenty of stunning viewpoints you can drive to. These include Tunnel View, Glacier Point View, and a scenic drive stretching from Tioga Road to Tioga Pass.
Here, you can see one amazing view after another, including the always breathtaking Olmstead Point. Simply grab your camera and jump in the car. Enjoy the scenery however you choose.
Great Hikes for the Whole Family
You don’t have to be a professional rock climber to get the most of Yosemite National Park. You’ll find countless attractions accessible either by car or a short walk. Thus, you can feel confident bringing the entire family, knowing that no one will miss out just because someone doesn’t like hiking.
Are you ready to explore Yosemite? Tell us what hikes you’re most excited about in the comments below!
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