Sometimes the best hikes aren’t the most challenging; they are the ones that suck you into your surroundings where you don’t speak for hours because you’re consumed by the beauty around you. Yosemite National Park is filled with these hikes.
I’ve hiked in the Appalachian Mountains, Rockies, and even the Alps, but Yosemite still took my breath away. The mountains appear to go straight to the heavens, from zero to 100. In the valley, the towering vertical rocks took my breath away.
Sure a lot of the hikes are challenging, but my first venture into the National Park was quite simple. We had just finished a half marathon nearby the previous day, so my legs needed a little bit of a break. Mirror Lake was the perfect place for a stroll through the woods.
The National Park Service lists it as “easy to moderate” with a modest 100 ft elevation. I had the option of walking to the lake and back from the trailhead, which was just two miles or taking the five mile loop around it. I ended up doing something in-between.
In early May the weather was lovely. For most of the walk I was in a long sleeve shirt, but did strip down to a tank with a scarf after a while. Once I reached “Mirror Lake,” the location was aptly named because of the water reflecting the majestic mountains behind it, just like a mirror. By mid-summer, however, there is often little water, and come to find out, it’s not even really a lake. It was mislabeled originally because it looked so full, but is actually just a pool from Tenaya Creek.
I decided to test the water and waded up to my mid-quad to try and sooth my sore muscles, but it was so cold, I probably only lasted a few minutes. I did take some time, however, to sit on the edge and journal about the trip. The path had a slow, but steady stream of visitors, still not enough to be considered crowded. I also notice a lot of different languages spoken, so it was a pretty international group of hikers.
It is a good walk for a family, but maybe a challenging walk for a senior because of the rocky terrain. For me, it was a good way to stretch my tight legs, soak up my surroundings, and breathe the clean air in these spectacular mountains.