Central to the development of the National Park movement, Yosemite reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and hosts nearly 4 million visitors each year. This cherished National Park was established in 1890 largely through the efforts of John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist, early advocate of wilderness preservation, and founder of the Sierra Club.
Today, 95% of the park is designated wilderness. It is recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, giant Sequoia groves, waterfalls and crystal clear lakes, and biological diversity. The Park not only encompasses Yosemite Valley but also surrounding mountains and forests.
Numerous trails suited for the novice as well as the most experienced hiker course through this majestic property. There are short nature trails and day hikes, as well as the most strenuous treks requiring great ascents, river crossing, and rock scrambling. One of the most popular spots is the Bridalveil Fall. There is easy access along a graded, paved path to this spectacular waterfall. It is a pleasant ½ mile walk to the viewpoint near the base of the falls’ mist trail.
On a warm Valley day, it is a great place to be because you are bound to get wet. For the more adventuresome hiker is the trek to Clouds Rest, a seven mile strenuous hike which is all about the destination. The climb is intoxicating as one enters into the clouds. There are no summit-hungry hikers on this trail, unlike that of nearby Half Dome.
At the summit, all the beauty of Little Yosemite Valley unfolds and the vista stretches for hundreds of miles. The Panorama Loop is a relatively secluded 13 mile trail which offers amazing up-close experiences with two of Yosemite’s most impressive cascades, Vernal and Nevada Falls.
There are outstanding views of Half Dome and the Valley floor from Panorama Cliff and Glacier Point. It is a challenging full day loop with very good trail condition. Fortunately, Park shuttles stop at both ends of the route.Another mesmerizing spot ideal for hiking, camping or for even brushing up a bit on your photography skills, Merced River is absolutely stunning because it allows you to appreciate all the features that make Yosemite such a special national park.
The combination of aesthetic qualities such as the snowy mountain peaks alongside the fresh, clear water that mirrors the thin, old growth trees is a vision that hikers of all sorts are known to explore.