Hiking Trails

6 Easy to Moderate Yosemite Valley Hiking Trails

Hit the trail during your Yosemite vacation! Choose Yosemite National Park trails based on how easy or family-friendly they are.

Family-friendly trail to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls.
Family-friendly trail to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls.iStock

With over 800 miles of trails, Yosemite National Park is a prime destination for hikers. But just because you’re not an avid hiker or traveling with your young family, it doesn’t mean you can’t hit the trail to some of Yosemite’s greatest treasures. Take a stroll right up to a mighty waterfall or a panoramic viewpoint, a gentle nature walk around the Valley or a short trek to a reflective lake. Here are trail recommendations from Yosemite park rangers based on accessibility and ability.

Easy Hikes in Yosemite Valley

Bridalveil Fall Trail
Half-mile round trip

When driving to Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil is the first waterfall you see. The paved trail takes you to the base of the 620 ft. year-round waterfall. Even though the trail is paved, it is not considered accessible to wheelchairs because of the 80-ft elevation gain. Want to see a firefall? For a few weeks in February, if the conditions are right, the sun hits Bridalveil Fall lighting it up with an orange glow.

Mirror Lake Trail
2 miles to the lake and back, 5 miles for the entire loop
Spring to early summer

A gentle, mostly level trail heads for one mile each way out to Mirror Lake, so named for its famous reflection of Half Dome, best seen during late spring when water levels are highest.

Lower Yosemite Fall Loop
1 mile loop
Best in spring and summer

This popular paved loop trail has views of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Creek, and takes you to the base of the last 320-ft drop of the waterfall. The eastern half of this loop is wheelchair accessible, but can be covered in snow or ice in the winter.

Moderate Hikes in Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley Loop Trail
13-mile full loop
Year-round, some flooding in spring

You can ramble as far as you like around the valley’s 13-mile paved recreational loop trail, stopping off at waterfalls, viewpoints, and meadows along the way, then catch a free shuttle bus back to your starting point. For a 6.5-mile trip, cut across the Merced River at El Capitan Bridge and head back to the trailhead.

Mist Trail to Vernal Fall
1.5-mile round trip to footbridge
3.0-mile round trip to base of Vernal Fall

Starting from the Happy Isles on the valley floor, take the mostly paved Mist Trail 3/4-mile to the footbridge with views of Vernal Fall in the distance. Or after refilling your water at the bridge, continue on another 3/4-miles as the trail climbs a granite staircase beside Vernal Fall. 

Yosemite Upper Fall Trail to Columbia Rock
2-miles round trip

This is one of Yosemite’s oldest trails featuring sunny switchbacks for year-round hiking. From Columbia Rock, you will see spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock.

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