Top Five Winter Hikes at Yosemite National Park

I like getting outdoors and I love a good hike. A hike can be anywhere. City hiking is great because it is so much easier to get to know your immediate surroundings with a good hike than it is while driving around, getting from one place to the next. Getting to know your surroundings as you walk is a large part of nature hikes as well.

Pack your snowshoes

Yes, the point of a hike is often to get to some destination like a Bridge to Nowhere, the Roberts House(just to reference a couple of cool, local Southern California hikes), an overlook, a natural feature, a waterfall or whatever, but the rest of the trail is just as important. Is it concrete to make walking easier? Is it almost straight up the side of a mountain so that at the end of the day you feel as if your legs weigh one hundred pounds each and the thought of lifting them to walk to the refrigerator is too much? Is it covered in snow and you have to be sure to wear waterproof footwear? Does it offer a good chance to spy wild animals or some cool flora? Does it go by a snack bar that serves great fruit smoothies?

Whatever the case, you have to know what you want. When I head up to Yosemite National Park later this winter, I want to do hikes that I know are going to be enjoyable for me. With the limitations of winter, I won?t be able to explore the whole park, but I will be able to find some places to see that won?t get the same traffic as they do in the summer. For example, Glacier Point Road closed November 19th, so those day hikes won?t be available. However, the Glacier Point Road to Badger Pass and the ski resort there is still open, and it also rents cross-country skis and snowshoes to aid in your winter exploration.

So with that in mind, here?s a list of the top five hikes I?ll be pursuing at Yosemite this winter. You can agree with me and take my word, or click on the links to explore websites and look for ones that agree with your style of hiking. Before you go though, it?s probably a good idea to check current conditions.

5. Mariposa Grove Loop Road

(Snowshoes or cross-country skis more than likely needed.) This easy round trip hike along the road open during the summer leads to the Mariposa Sequoia Grove. It?s eight miles total and will lead to some intimate encounters with the majestic trees in the grove. Cross-country skis may be preferable on this one, as they cover the longer distance on the snow-covered road a bit more quickly, assuming you can cross-country ski.

4. Tuolumne Grove Trail

(Snowshoes more than likely needed.) Another trip to the sequoias, this one a little more difficult and shorter, going one mile downhill with the return being, of course, one mile back up the hill. The shorter distance makes it a bit more palatable to do in snowshoes as the hike back up won?t be as bad as those who chose to do it in skis.

3. Merced Grove Trail


(Snowshoes more than likely needed. Link to Tuolumne Grove Trail also has the information to this trail.) The most difficult of the trails in this list of five, it combines one and half miles in a one-way trek with a serious downhill descent. From the previous trail, you know what that means when you return.

2. Mirror Lake Trail

Only two miles round-trip, this paved trail is easy to access, has little snow (meaning no snowshoes) and there is a chance to see some wildlife, so it ranks pretty high. Don?t believe me? Check out this video for easy hikes.

1. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

(Map of the Yosemite Valley is the above link. The Mirror Lake Trail link lists the descriptions of all the hikes in the Valley.) Saving the best for last, this hike combines a little distance (7.2 miles round trip) with some nice elevation gains (2,700 feet), the hope you don?t have to break out the snowshoes and great views of the valley. Here?s the video for moderate hikes as the proof.

I figure those hikes should keep me busy over a long weekend and give me a great view of Yosemite in the winter. If you know of anything I should add to my outdoor itinerary, leave it in the comments. See you in the park

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."