Yosemite National Park in California is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and diverse hiking trails. It attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world who seek to explore its iconic landmarks, including Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point.
With its breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, and accessible trails, Yosemite offers a range of easy hikes that are perfect for beginners and families. Whether you’re looking to enjoy serene meadows, cascading waterfalls, or panoramic views, Yosemite has something to offer everyone. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on an adventure in one of America’s most beloved national parks.
1. Lower Yosemite Falls Trailhead
The hike to Lower Yosemite Falls is one of the most popular and easy hikes in Yosemite National Park. It offers breathtaking views of the waterfall and is accessible for all skill levels. The entire loop is paved, making it a comfortable walk for everyone.
Lower Yosemite Falls is particularly impressive during the spring snowmelt when the waterfall is at its fullest. Hikers can enjoy the constant spray from the falls and the stunning views from the base. The trail is almost entirely flat, making it accessible for families, seniors, and individuals with mobility challenges.
To further explore the beauty of Yosemite Falls, visitors can take the Yosemite Valley shuttle and get off at the stop near the falls. This makes it convenient for everyone to experience the majesty of this natural wonder.
Why you should go: This paved, flat loop provides stunning views of Lower Yosemite Falls and is wheelchair/stroller accessible, making it ideal for people of all abilities.
Distance: 1.2-mile roundtrip
Elevation gain: 320 feet
For more information on the Lower Yosemite Falls hike, you can visit the official Yosemite National Park website.
2. Bridalveil Fall Hike Trailhead (Temporarily closed)
The paved quarter-mile trail to Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite Valley is one of the park’s most popular and easiest hikes. Suitable for all ages and abilities, this short hike offers accessible rewards. Located right off the main valley road, it provides a convenient opportunity to experience Yosemite’s beauty.
Bridalveil Fall flows impressively year-round, fed by snowmelt from the high country. The 620-foot waterfall tumbles down the valley cliffs, and you can walk right up to feel the spray at its thundering base. Parking at the trailhead is simple, and the flat trail winds through forests and boulder fields before reaching the breathtaking falls.
With interpretive signs along the way, this hike provides insights into Yosemite’s natural and cultural history. Leashed pets are also allowed. As one of the first stops for many entering the valley, the short Bridalveil Fall trail offers the perfect introduction to Yosemite’s grandeur.
Whether you’re a hardcore hiker or a family seeking convenient access, this hike’s beauty and ease make it a must-do. Don’t miss a chance to marvel at this majestic waterfall up close.
Why you should go: This short, paved trail leads right to the base of the impressive Bridalveil Fall. It’s a family-friendly hike with interpretive signs about Yosemite’s natural history.
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
For more information on Bridalveil Fall and its scenic surroundings, you can visit the Bridalveil Fall Wikipedia page.
3. Mirror Lake Trailhead
The family-friendly Mirror Lake hike in Yosemite National Park follows a 2-mile roundtrip paved trail along Tenaya Creek, leading to the scenic lake that reflects the surrounding granite domes and cliffs. The mostly flat terrain, with just two small bridges to cross, makes it an ideal hike for strollers and bikes. Many families even ride bikes for the first three-quarters of a mile before walking the final steep stretch to the lake’s edge.
The impressive mirrored reflections on Mirror Lake are only visible in spring and early summer when water levels are high. By late summer the lake shrinks dramatically, leaving much less scenic views. The peak season for this hike is May through July.
An elevation gain of only 150 feet for most of the trail keeps it manageable for kids and less experienced hikers. Interpretive signs along the route describe the area’s natural features. With its family-friendly access and seasonal scenic views, Mirror Lake is one of Yosemite’s most popular easy hikes. Going in spring or early summer allows you to see the lake at its fullest and capture memorable reflective views.
Why you should go: The scenic Mirror Lake trail is paved and flat, perfect for families and bikes. Spring and early summer offer the most dramatic reflective views before the lake’s levels drop.
Distance: 1.9 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 460 feet
For more information about Mirror Lake, you can visit the official Yosemite National Park website.
4. Cook’s Meadow Loop Trailhead
The Cook’s Meadow Loop is a popular and easy hike in Yosemite National Park. Here is a brief description of the hike and some of its scenic viewpoints and features:
The Cook’s Meadow Loop is a simple, flat 1-mile loop that offers stunning views of the Yosemite Valley. The trail is paved in some sections and features a boardwalk in others, making it an accessible hike for all ages and abilities.
During the hike, you will be treated to breathtaking views of iconic Yosemite landmarks, including Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. It is a fantastic spot for photography, especially during the “golden hour” when the lighting is perfect.
The loop can be accessed via the Sentinel Bridge Parking Area, located across the street from the Lower Yosemite Falls trailhead. It is worth combining the Cook’s Meadow Loop with the Sentinel Meadow Trail for a 2.25-mile loop, which allows you to cross two bridges over the Merced River and capture more exceptional pictures.
Overall, the Cook’s Meadow Loop is an easy and picturesque hike that showcases the beauty of Yosemite Valley. It is an ideal choice for those seeking a leisurely stroll while enjoying the stunning scenery.
Why you should go: This easy 1-mile paved loop treats you to iconic Yosemite Valley views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. It’s wheelchair accessible and great for photos.
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation gain: 78 feet
5. Mist Trail to Vernal Fall Footbridge
The Mist Trail to Vernal Fall Footbridge offers a challenging but rewarding hiking experience in Yosemite National Park. This popular trail is not particularly long, but it is uphill on the way to the falls.
The trail is known for its stunning views and the incredible sight of Vernal Fall from the footbridge. Hikers can continue uphill for another 0.4 miles to get a view from the top of the falls. Be prepared to get wet from the mist of the waterfall as you climb the stone steps. This trail can be accessed from Yosemite Valley shuttle stop 16.
Why you should go: The uphill Mist Trail leads to the top of stunning Vernal Fall. Prepare to get wet from the mist while climbing steep stone steps.
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation gain: 500 feet
6. Glacier Point Trailhead
The hike to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park is more of an easy walk, making it accessible for hikers of all ages and skill levels. Starting from the parking lot, the paved trail is relatively flat as it leads to breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierras.
Gazing down at Curry Village, you get a sense of the valley’s grandeur. The viewpoint of Half Dome from Glacier Point is unique, as it stands at eye level rather than towering overhead. For those seeking more of a climb, hiking up the granite dome of Sentinel Dome offers 360-degree views after a fun scramble to the top. However, use caution in wet conditions when the granite can be slippery.
Glacier Point is a popular must-see destination in Yosemite thanks to its easy accessibility and jaw-dropping vistas. Families and individuals alike can comfortably walk the trail to witness the park’s beauty.
The hike allows visitors to experience the grandeur of Yosemite without intense physical exertion. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just seeking leisurely strolls, Glacier Point has spectacular views that should not be missed. It provides a perfect opportunity to take in the natural wonder of Yosemite National Park.
Why you should go: The paved trail to Glacier Point is a short, easy hike with jaw-dropping vistas of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome.
Distance: 0.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
7. Taft Point Trailhead
The hike to Taft Point in Yosemite National Park is an intermediate 2.2-mile roundtrip trail that rewards hikers with breathtaking vistas of Yosemite Valley and its surrounding granite cliffs. The trailhead is located near Glacier Point Road, about a 30-minute drive from the valley floor. The relatively flat terrain only gains around 400 feet in elevation, making it a moderate hike suitable for most skill levels. However, sturdy shoes are recommended for sections of loose rock and uneven ground.
The highlight of the hike is taking in the stunning views of landmarks like Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and the expansive valley from Taft Point’s cliffs. Sunrise and sunset offer gorgeous lighting for photography, bathing the landscape in golden hues. But caution must be exercised near the steep cliff edges, where accidents have occurred.
Staying behind guardrails and following posted safety guidelines is critical. With incredible scenery and photo opportunities, the hike to Taft Point is a must-do for Yosemite visitors seeking beautiful vistas. Just remember to prioritize safety when enjoying the dramatic cliffs and dizzying heights.
Why you should go: Hike to Taft Point’s cliffs for breathtaking valley views. Use caution near steep drop-offs.
Distance: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 200 feet
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
To learn more about Taft Point and its stunning vistas, you can visit Yosemite National Park website.
Bang’ Tip: Please note that hikers should always check the current trail conditions and be prepared with proper hiking gear, plenty of water, and snacks. Happy hiking!
8. Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias Trailhead
If you’re visiting Yosemite National Park and want to marvel at magnificent sequoia trees, be sure to embark on the Tuolumne Grove hike. This easy trail takes you through a grove of giant sequoias, providing a unique opportunity to witness some of the largest trees on the planet up close.
The trail begins at the parking area near Pothole Dome and winds through the forest, offering a serene and awe-inspiring experience. Don’t miss the chance to stand beneath these ancient giants and appreciate their grandeur.
Why you should go: Wander amongst giant ancient sequoias, some of the world’s largest trees. Perfect for all skill levels.
Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: Minimal
9. Wawona Meadow Loop
The easy 3-mile Wawona Meadow Loop hike is a peaceful nature trail located in the Wawona area of Yosemite National Park. This scenic loop highlights the stunning beauty of Wawona Meadow, a picturesque grassland surrounded by towering trees.
As you walk the trail, take in breathtaking views of the open meadow dotted with vibrant wildflowers during spring and summer. The peaceful atmosphere offers a tranquil escape from the crowded areas of the park.
One of the highlights of this hike is the abundant wildlife that calls Wawona Meadow home. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, birds, squirrels, and potentially even bears from a safe distance.
The loop trail allows you to immerse yourself in the nature of Yosemite while spotting wildlife in its natural habitat.
With fairly flat terrain and no significant elevation changes, the Wawona Meadow Loop is suitable for hikers of most ages and abilities.
It provides the perfect short hike for families looking to explore Yosemite’s natural splendor without tackling major distances or climbs. Don’t miss out on this easy, scenic trail that showcases the meadow’s beauty and serenity when visiting Yosemite National Park.
Why you should go: A peaceful 3-mile nature loop through scenic Wawona Meadow, dotted with wildflowers and wildlife. Relaxing for all skill levels.
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 250 Feet
To explore more about Wawona Meadow and its breathtaking surroundings, you can visit the Wawona Meadow Wikipedia page.
10. First Cascades of the Chilnualna Falls Trail
The scenic First Cascades hike is a beginner-friendly trail along the Chilnualna Falls, treating hikers to beautiful cascading waterfalls and lush greenery. At 8.2 miles roundtrip, it’s a great easy option for those new to Yosemite hiking who still want to admire the park’s natural beauty. While considered an easy trail, there are inclines and uneven terrain, so come prepared with proper footwear and supplies. The flow of the cascading falls varies seasonally, with peak performance in spring and early summer.
As you take in the scenic views, keep watch for Yosemite’s diverse wildlife like deer, birds, and squirrels while respecting their space. Since weather conditions can be unpredictable, check forecasts before setting out and dress accordingly. Bring proper provisions like a map, snacks, water, and a first aid kit.
While a fantastic introductory hike for families and beginners, safety should still be the number one priority. With gorgeous scenery and a moderate challenge, the First Cascades trail allows hikers of all levels to appreciate Yosemite’s grandeur. It’s a perfect nature escape without the commitment of a grueling backcountry trek.
Why you should go: A scenic waterfall hike along the Chilnualna Falls, great for beginner hikers and families who still want to admire Yosemite’s beauty.
Distance: 8.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 500 feet
Difficulty: Easy to moderate