Hiking with kids is no easy task, especially if they are too young to go very far, or at the age where just about anything beats family time. But a family vacation to Yosemite could be just what you need. There are plenty of safe hikes, comfortable Yosemite vacation rentals, and kid-friendly recreational activities to keep your family happy occupied for the duration the trip. Start out with one of these 10 easy hikes in Yosemite, and then see where the road takes you.
1. Glacier Point Loop
Even if your child is in a stroller, and you have a family pet tagging along, the Glacier Point loop is fully accessible. The walk is easy, and about a fourth of it is on paved paths, so your little ones won’t find too many obstacles along the way. If you need to stock up on supplies, or just need an ice cream break, there’s a shop at the trailhead for convenience. Once you make it to the lookout point, you’ll find one of the most stunning views in the park: a 270-degree panorama of waterfalls, dozens of peaks, Half Dome and much of the Yosemite Valley. Time your hike to watch the sunset for a sight that will truly take your breath away.
2. Panorama Trail
The full length of the Panorama Trail is about 8.5 miles, from Glacier Point down to Yosemite Valley. While the entire distance may be too much for the little ones, the trail offers incredible views of the valley and the falls. Though the trail is unpaved, which may make it difficult for maneuvering strollers, kids should be able to trek along the path without too much trouble.
3. Lower Mariposa Grove
If your kids are a bit older, you might want to attempt the Lower Mariposa Grove hike. Expect some incline, but the ascent is worth the views. You’ll get to see the Grizzly Giant, which is the world’s oldest sequoia, and one of the world’s largest living things. Navigate through the California Tunnel Tree, and marvel at the other behemoths lining the way.
4. Tuolumne Meadows
If meandering through meadows beats trekking up dirt paths any day, head for the Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. The wildflowers, river and the granite peaks surrounding the meadow make for a pretty picture, and you can soak up the sun just like the deer that romp the grounds.
5. Bridalveil Fall Trail
A short walk through the woods and along a path will take you to the base of the Bridalveil waterfall. It’s one of the first main attractions as you enter Yosemite Valley and a pretty picture opts for the kids. Depending on the season, the waterfall may cause the surrounding rocks at the base of the falls to become slippery. The trail itself is easy. But if your kids are up for the challenge, reaching the base of the falls requires navigating rocks and scrambling up boulders.
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6. Yosemite Floor Loop Trail
The entirety of the Yosemite Floor Loop Trail, at 11.5 miles, may be a bit much for a hike with young children. But attempt the trail in portions, and you’ve got yourself an adventure — and a great way to cool down. Parts of the course run near the Merced River, where you and your kids can easily wade in. You’ll find a fairly flat portion of the trail beneath Three Brothers and El Capitan, two iconic rock formations within the park.
7. Mirror Lake
If you need a destination to set your sights on, hike toward Mirror Lake, which is fullest in the spring and early summer. Starting from a paved service road that leads directly to the lake, you can access the loop trail around the lake from the end of the path. The hike to the lake is about two miles, while the loop trail around Mirror Lake is about five miles.
8. Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake is just about as picture perfect as Yosemite gets. The entire hike around the lake is about a 2.5-mile loop, but the walk is easy, with very little elevation gain. It’s not as crowded as other water attractions such as Yosemite or Bridalveil Falls, so you and your family can have enjoyed the best of nature at its most serene.
9. Cook’s Meadow Loop
The Cooks Meadow Loop is a short, easy walk with incredible scenic rewards. The loop is only about a mile and is accessible from the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. Along the way, youll find incredible views of the Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point and Sentinel Rock. The road is wheelchair and stroller accessible, and bicycles are also allowed on the trail.
10. Taft Point
For especially dramatic views of Yosemite Valley, hike to Taft Point, where you can walk right up to the cliff’s edge for an impressive view of the Yosemite Falls and El Capitan. You’ll get to see the iconic rock formation from above. The trail is about 2.4 miles, not as crowded as some of the other trails and fairly easy. However, the cliff is largely exposed and with the most basic guardrails, making it dangerous for kids who like to roam free.
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