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Yosemite Hikes: Best Short Hikes in Yosemite

Updated on July 4, 2012
Yosemite waterfall
Yosemite waterfall | Source

Short Yosemite Hikes- Perfect for Kids and Dogs!

Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most scenic and spectacular hikes in the world. Hiking enthusiasts come from all over the world to admire the pristine waterfalls and experience the mesmerizing beauty of the mountains. With so many diverse trails to choose from, planning the perfect weekend in Yosemite can be overwhelming.

My fiancé planned a short romantic getaway for our anniversary at Yosemite National Park, one of the most spectacular and magical places in the U.S. We are both nature lovers, with a passion for hiking and the outdoors. Our main priority was to choose a trail that was dog friendly and short enough, yet gives us a memorable first-time experience at Yosemite.

After researching for endless websites, he finally narrowed it down to Lower Yosemite Falls, the perfect Yosemite hiking experience for the three of us.

Time will stop, as you are swept into this serene image.

Base of Yosemite Waterfalls
Base of Yosemite Waterfalls | Source

Getting to the Trail

To get to the trail, you can drive into Yosemite Valley and park at the Visitor Center or at Curry Village. Take the shuttle to stop #6 and follow the marked path across Yosemite Village.

Bridge at the Base of Lower Falls

Easy Yosemite Hikes
Easy Yosemite Hikes

Yosemite Hikes ~ View of the Highest Waterfall in North America

Lower Yosemite Falls was an easy and straightforward trail that leads to one of the prettiest Yosemite waterfalls. It only took us about 30 minutes to complete the 1.5 mile hike (from Yosemite Village which is the base/central tourist area). This is a highly recommended hike for all visitors, since it rewards you with an enormous and impressive view for such little effort.

This trail is dog friendly and wheelchair friendly, so everyone is capable of enjoying the hike and spectacular view.

We started the walk over to Lower Yosemite Fall from the Yosemite Village parking lot, near the Shuttle stop #6.

Reaching the base of the waterfall only requires a hike of 0.25 miles from the shuttle stop #6 if you take the wheelchair-accessible trail. You can choose a longer (1.1 mile round trip) by continuing clockwise along the path between two branches of Yosemite Creek. We decided to take the third route, along the bike path from Yosemite Valley visitor center, which is a round trip of 1.5 miles.

We walked through a slowly ascending wide paved trail, framed by gorgeous, tall Ponderosa pines and incense cedar trees. The trail, at an altitude of 4000 feet, is shaded with different species of pine trees, redwoods, and cypress trees with its scale-like leaves and fibrous barks. For tree-lovers and Botanist, the valley with them is like Disneyland for kids!

There’s a footbridge providing nice open views of the lower fall, a great opportunity for capturing photos from your camera. You can see and hear both the Upper and Lower falls through the trail, however when you get to the bridge, you will be rewarded with the amazing view of the Lower Falls, with water thundering down from 320 feet tall.

We were able to sit on the giant rocks at the base of this scenic waterfall! We could literally feel the shower from the mist gently kissing our face! We took our time to breathe in the air and really take in the surrounding beauty. If you could take yourself away from your daily life and transport yourself into another world where time just freezes, this is it.

After the winter passes, Yosemite Falls is most impressive as water melts from the ice, hurling tons of water into the valley. We were expecting light vaporized drops from the water; instead got to witness the full power of mother nature at her best.

Take a quick break from reading this article and put yourself there right now by watching this video!

The trail leading to Lower Falls

Where is Yosemite National Park?

P.O. Box 578, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389:
Yosemite National Park, Northside Dr, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, USA

get directions

What is so magical about Yosemite Falls?

Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America, tumbling at 2,425 feet and ten times taller than Niagra! It breaks up into 3 parts; Upper falls at 1430 ft, Middle Cascades at 625 ft, and finally the Lower Fall, dropping at 320 ft.

The hike to Upperfall is steeper and longer. The Middle Cascade separates into 5 smaller falls and is more difficult to see due to its narrow and hidden view from the ground. The Lower Fall has a viewing bridge near the base where Oakley and I hiked up to see.

What makes it so magical is the setting of the environment surrounding that can make you feel so peaceful, relaxed, and free. With the sound of the wilderness and the thrusts of water hitting the bottom pools and rocks, flowing water can be very refreshing and invigorating. A waterfall is Mother Nature’s special gift to us. Its strength and power can have a therapeutic and calming effect on our soul. It’s also a quiet and romantic setting for couples!

More resources

For a printout of Yosemite Valley Hiking Map

For more information about Yosemite National Park

To view other easy hikes at Yosemite, check out these trails.

Yosemite Weather

You can visit Yosemite any time of the year. However, if you want to see the biggest and best water flow, (April-May) months is the ideal time to visit, as the spring runoff is at its peak.

During the fall (Sept-Nov) you will see the most amazing shades of red, gold, and yellow.

During the winter (Dec-Mar), you can cross-country ski, hike in your snow boots, or just play in the snow.

During summer, (June-Aug), pack your tents and sleeping bag and go camping!


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    • Turtlewoman profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Lam 

      6 years ago from California

      Hi Dan! Thank you for stopping by! It's an honor to have a seasoned hiker like yourself here. You will be impressed with some of the more rigorous trails of Yosemite, particularly Half Dome. I hope you write a hub about it too! I plan on going back this fall (without the dog this time) and conquering some of the more difficult trails. Fall colors there are amazing ! There's still so much more to explore. I'd like to see Niagra Falls some day too. Thanks again, take care.

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 

      6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Growing up in Niagara Falls, I've heard about the taller Yosemite Falls since I was a wee tike. I'm planning on taking a backpacking trip out next year some time. Thanks for the great hub and inspiring pictures.

    • Turtlewoman profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Lam 

      6 years ago from California

      Thank you Vellur, it was indeed a beautiful trail.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      This is an amazing hub. The photos are awesome. Great picturesque hiking trails. Enjoyed reading. Voted up.

    • Turtlewoman profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Lam 

      6 years ago from California

      Thanks Cindy! Did you see that first video? Imagine being right up close to that base! I am planning to take my parents there this year...they have never been to Yosemite! My mom has minor arthritis in the knee, so this short hike will be perfect for her.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      6 years ago from Texas

      What a wonderful trip you have shared with me. I have never been to a place like this and I think it would be so awesome. I can almost heard the deafening water as it forcefully hits the rocks below and feel the mists as they waft thru the air. Beautifully written.


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