Hiking in Yosemite National Park has been on my bucketlist for a long time. We had reservations in August the last 2 years but unfortunately, due to forest fires we had to cancel. This year, we decided to go in May. I had the perfect 3 day agenda planned, unfortunately there were a few last minute changes due to weather. A winter storm moved in which resulted in Glacier Road closing, consequently, we would not be doing the Panorama trail I so looked forward to. In truth, there are so many trails to hike at Yosemite, I knew Steve and I would still have a great time.
We arrived from Fresno in the early afternoon via Highway 41. We were happy the winter storm didn’t keep us from visiting and staying at Yosemite National Park. It was a rainy day, but there was a break in the rain when we arrived allowing us to park and walk the 1.9 mile trail to the Mariposa Sequoia Grove. This grove is an area of Giant Sequoia trees. It was a nice little walk and felt great to stretch our legs. These trees are massive and some are over 2000 years old! If you don’t feel like walking, you can also hop on the free shuttle that will take you there.
Drive to the Valley
We continued the drive towards the valley. Although the weather alternated between drizzle and rain, there was an occasional break. We were staying in Yosemite Valley. The drive from the big trees to the Valley took about an hour. We stopped frequently to enjoy the views and take pictures. Despite the dreary weather, the waterfalls and other scenery on the way down the valley were beautiful.
Yosemite Valley Lodge
We reached the Valley later in the afternoon and checked into our room. We were staying at Yosemite Valley Lodge. There was just enough time to orient ourselves to the place we were to call home for the next 3 nights, before it was time to dress for dinner. The lodge was clean and comfortable, yet simple. There were no frills, but for hiking and exploring we didn’t need anything fancy. The lodge sported a restaurant, lounge, food court and Starbucks. Very excited about the Starbucks, we became regulars each morning! There was also an outdoor pool, but way too cold! The staff were friendly and had a wealth of good information and tips.
Dinner at the Majestic Lodge
Dinner that night was at the Majestic Lodge. Built in 1927, and listed on the National Register Historical Places, this lodge is quite grand. The lobby boasts 3 large fireplaces and huge beams throughout give the lodge an outdoorsy feeling. The dining room showcases high beamed ceilings with floor to ceiling windows on two sides. There is a dress code for dinner and the dining experience has an elegant feel. Service is impeccable and the food excellent. The chocolate hazelnut layer cake was totally decadent and especially memorable! This piece of cake was so large we took the extra back to our room and it took 3 days to finish it!! Not only our meal, but our dining experience was an exceptional way to end our day.
Day 2 Hiking in Yosemite
Hiking Upper Yosemite Falls
It was a drizzly foggy morning, regardless, we were going to be hiking in Yosemite and I was excited. Today, we were planning on hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls. This hike is 7.6 miles, climbs approximately 3000 feet, and rates as strenuous. Right from the start, the switchbacks appeared and there were a lot. The drizzle slowed and as the fog crept through the valley it created a moody background for our hike, which was pretty cool. As we climbed, the fog moved around, creating an eerie feel to the area. We actually passed the lower falls lookout, we missed it, due to the thick fog. Continuing to climb we were determined to make it to the top, in spite of the occasional sprinkles and drizzle.
Shortly before the top, it started to snow. We came to a view point for the upper falls as the fog moved in and the snow began to fall harder. Consequently, the path made of stones and stone steps became slick, so we headed down. It was slow going on the way down, due to the slickness. As the snow dissipated and the fog and clouds thinned, we were rewarded with glimpses of sunshine and stunning views. For more detail of the trail logistics, you can check out this link. https://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/upper-yosemite-falls/upper-yosemite-falls.htm.
The rest of the afternoon we decided to drive around the valley loop and hike short trails to scenic viewpoints. We especially enjoyed the short trail to the bottom of Yosemite falls. Both the upper and lower falls can be seen and are pretty spectacular. Since we were here in May, the falls were in their glory, rushing and roaring off the top of the cliff and smashing to the rocks below. It was so hard to believe that early this morning we were just about to the top of these giant falls!
It wasn’t far to our next stop. Bridalveil Falls can be seen from the road but is much more spectacular up close. The mile walk to the bottom of the falls was scenic as we crossed over creeks, saw glimpses of the falls between trees, and could hear the roar of the water falling into the canyon. Once at the bottom of the falls, we could feel the mist all around and view the falls head on.
Mountain Valley Restaurant
Dinner this evening was at the Mountain Valley Restaurant, within the lodge we were staying at. Although not as eloquent as the Majestic, still very nice. As we walked in, we noticed the beautiful framed photos on the walls of various places in Yosemite. We also couldn’t miss the floor to ceiling windows along the back of the wall with a view of Yosemite falls. After hiking in Yosemite today, we were famished. Dinner was delicious and service was very good. I tried a glass of their signature Glacier Martini and found that to be excellent. Another nice ending to a busy day.
Day 3 Hiking in Yosemite
Hiking Vernal and Nevada Falls Loop Trail
Vernal Falls and The Mist Trail
We woke up to sunshine and mild weather which was great because we were again going hiking in Yosemite. This time, we were planning on tackling the difficult Vernal and Nevada Falls trail. This almost 7 mile trail climbs up to the top and crosses over two waterfalls, then forms a loop down the John Muir Trail, ending where it started.
We started at Happy Isles and took the historic trail up to the Mist Trail, passing the foot bridge which runs below Vernal Falls. We reached the Mist Trail, which is made of more than 600 steps cut into rock. This trail runs alongside Vernal Falls. The trail is narrow at times and wet from the mist coming off the falls, be prepared, you will get wet. It is a beautiful yet tough hike up to the top of the falls. As a result, looking down from the top of the falls is pretty amazing.
We rested a bit at the top of the falls, it was getting warmer so we peeled off some clothing layers, including our wet outer layers, then we continued up to Nevada Falls. I am going to be honest, the trail from the top of Vernal Falls to the top of Nevada Falls is brutal. The almost 2 miles of trail is not just a path of inclines and steps, it is at times a path of rocks that can be hard to get a good footing on. Definitely strenuous and a stretch at times for my short legs. Was it worth it? Absolutely. The view was amazing all around.
John Muir Trail
We followed the trail across NevadaFalls and descended via the John Muir Trail. This trail was so much better. The path was a more gradual decline without as many rocks. Viewing the falls from the opposite side was pretty cool, as you continue down though, it isn’t as scenic, a lot of walking through the forest. This way bypasses the Mist Trail so there are no wet stairs to navigate, which I greatly appreciated. For trail particulars you can follow this link. https://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/mist-trail/mist-trail.htm
I must admit, I was pretty sore after hiking in Yosemite. I was more than ready for supper after 7 hours on the trail. We ate at The Majestic again, only this time we ate at the bar. The Majestic Bar has its own vibe, comfy and cozy, plus there isn’t a dress code. Sandwiches and fries were exactly what we needed to refuel! Again the food was great and the service was good as well. Another great day came to an end.
All good things come to an end. Today after a great buffet at The Majestic we said goodbye to Yosemite. We decided to take Highway 120 on our way back to Fresno, even though it was the long way, and we had to drive north for a ways, we wanted a different view. It was much longer than we anticipated but a very pretty drive even though it was another foggy day. We had a great time hiking in Yosemite and can’t wait to go back again someday and hike the other trails!
Follow this link if you are looking for ideas on what to wear for a long mountain hike.
I do a lot of research before traveling. I bought 3 different Yosemite tour guide books and this is the one I found the best information in. This is also the only book I brought with. It is organized by area and gives complete information on each hike, what to expect, how long, type of trail, and more. It also has pictures of each hike in color which I liked in comparison to the black and white pictures of other guide books. I highly recommend this guide.
I also bought a map. I like the National Geographic maps because they are sturdy, easy to read, and accurate. This map helped give me a better visual of where I was at in comparison to what I wanted to do and see. It was sturdy, wiped off well, and fit nicely in a day pack. I wouldn’t hike this area without a good map.