Hiking Yosemite National Park
So I went over a lot of the benefits of visiting the park in the winter, however I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that there are also some drawbacks.
Some of those drawbacks being that some trails are closed, some roads are not accessible, and the quickly changing weather can make for dangerous conditions all around you!
We ran into some of these drawbacks when wanting to hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls.
The hike to the top of Vernal Falls is known to be a strenuous one. The elevation gain is 1,000 ft. You can access the falls by route of the Mist Trail. It’s 3 miles round trip, with outstanding views… and if you decide to also see Nevada Falls it’ll be 7 miles round trip.
The trail is nicely paved to Vernal Falls, but it is very steep. It is a steady climb over 1.5 miles with no switchbacks.
I would love to show you some personal pics of the fall but the last .3 miles to the falls were closed because of melting falling ice chunks. We stood at the “Trail Closed” sign for a good 5 minutes trying to make up our mind on what closed really meant.
When lucky us…a group of about 5 people came hiking down the John Muir trail from Nevada Falls. We asked them if they had reached the falls, they told us that the conditions were very dangerous and even though they wanted to reach the falls, chunks of ice kept falling all around them and ultimately they got scared for their safety and headed back. We took this as a note to not pursue the last .3 miles to the top of Vernal Falls.
Heck if the trail to Nevada Falls was open and the conditions were that rough they must have been down right hazardous to Vernal Fall.
We were all slightly bummer out as we headed back down the mountain. We wondered why wouldn’t there have been a sign at the trailhead letting us know the conditions?!? We had hiked up 1.2 miles only to put on our frowny emoji faces and turn back around!?!? The defeat!
Well in that moment it was as if Mother Nature herself heard our whining and said I’ll show ya stupid hikers. We heard an extremely loud noise, it sounded like a jet tearing through the sky. We looked over our shoulders to see what the strange noise was and sure enough massive amounts of melting ice were hurling themselves down the mountain cliffs. We all, out loud, expressed our relief for not taking on the mountain. More and more things like this remind me that sometimes nature is down right violent and it’s best to respect her and her wishes!
When I’m in circumstances like this I always believe it’s the universe giving me a reason to come back. Almost as if Mother Nature is saying to me, “Darling, you belong here, we want you to return. Because of that we can’t give you the satisfaction of doing and seeing everything you want silly! We want to see you again cutie pie, therefore we will make it so you must come back and visit!”
To that I say, “Oh Mother Nature, you’re the best!! Thanks bae, I wanna see you again too!!”
The other hike we did was Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake is a much much much easier hike than the falls. It’s like a walk in the park. The length of this hike will depend on where you actually start it. But it’s flat basically the entire way so it’s more like a stroll than a hike. The elevation gain is only 100 ft. Easy Peasy Mate!
I highly recommend this hike for newbies. Most of it is paved, it has great scenery to take in, and the trail is well marked. Downfall: I have heard that is gets WAY too crowded in the summer.
I must note this “lake” aka pool of water is seasonal, so currently there isn’t much water to see. Come spring when everything is a melting I’m sure you will get much more of an actual lake! And that is when people actually take a dip in the water and swim around!
As one of the easiest year round hikes being offered in Yosemite this is something everyone can go ahead and take on.
Till next time Yosemite…thanks for letting us know we’re welcome back anytime!