Best Winter Hikes in Yosemite Valley
For snow-lovers, the middle and upper elevations of Yosemite National Park beckon—from Badger Pass downhill skiing to snowshoeing through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. But because the park’s lower terrain is often snow-free or nearly so most of the winter, hikers can usually find accessible trails rich in scenery and solitude. Here are a few options in the Yosemite Valley, which is but a short drive from the Scenic Wonders cabins.
Winter Day Hikes In Yosemite Valley
Valley Floor Loop
If you’re itching for hours of hiking amid some of the world’s most famous geological grandeur, consider the Valley Floor Loop. This route—on which you may encounter ice or snow, depending on current conditions—can be done as a half loop of 6.5 miles or a full loop of 13 miles, depending on whether you turn around at El Capitan Bridge or trek on to Bridalveil Fall. You’ll enjoy awe-inspiring views of many of Yosemite Valley’s most famous encircling landmarks—the great waterfalls, El Capitan, Sentinel Rock, the Three Brothers, and others—while tracing some of its historic trails.
The 7.2-mile Yosemite Falls Trail switchbacks to the crown of its namesake cataract, the continent’s tallest and certainly among the world’s most singularly stunning. It’s a rigorous hike, and you may run into snow as you ascend, but the wintry views of the ice-bordered waterfall are unforgettable.
Photo by: John Harrison
Tunnel View is a must stop for any first time visit to Yosemite Valley, and is especially more breathtaking during the winter with a blanket of snow covering the valley. Find it just outside the Wawona Tunnel on State Highway 41. From this vista you can see El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. This vista changes with each season to show something new but the best times to see Tunnel View are early spring (when Bridalveil Fall is at peak flow) and winter, when the beautiful granite domes are draped in snow and mist.
Your best bet for wintertime hiking in Yosemite is to check the current conditions at the park’s website or a ranger station. Find out how much if any snow you’re likely to encounter on the trails you’re interested in, and pack for shifting weather conditions. Yosemite in winter can be deliciously quiet and absolutely transfixing, not least from a hiking trail. But don’t just take our word for it: Go find out for yourself!
Make Your Yosemite Reservations Today
If you’re looking to explore Yosemite, start planning your trip with Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders. We offer Yosemite reservations within the gates of the park. With one of our cozy cabins, condominiums, or homes, your Yosemite accommodations will be just minutes from all the wonderful spots in Yosemite. Give us a call at 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) to learn about our rentals and to make your Yosemite reservations today.