Visiting Yosemite national park for the first time can feel a little overwhelming. The valley might seem like a superbusy Disneyland at times, and the hiking opportunities are endless. So in case you don’t know where to start, here are five easy to moderately strenuous day hikes, that show you Yosemite’s beauty and get you away from the crowds at least a bit.
1. The Mist Trail
This one actually doesn’t really allow you to ditch the crowds to be honest. It is still a hike well worth the effort. You hike up a steep narrow path along Vernal Falls. Continue along the trail up to the Nevada Falls and you will notice the views getting grander and the crowd getting slimmer. (If you are very ambitious and have a permit, continue on to Half Dome). Hike back down into the valley on the John Muir Trail: you won’t meet many people on it and its much lighter on the knees.
2. Mirror Lake
A valley classic. This short and even 2 mile hike to Mirror Lake gives you a great view of Half Dome. You might even be able to swim in the lake (though its mostly dry in summer). A nice afternoon stroll, if you are for some reason stuck in the valley with a little time at oyur hand. Finish it off with a dip in Merced river.
3. Sentinel Dome
Drive up to Glacier Point and do stop there for the view. No matter how crowded it is up there, the view of the valley is one of the best you can find. But do then drive back a few miles and hike out to Sentinel Dome. The 2-miles hike includes a supereasy ascent to this granite dome, that marks the entrance to the valley and gives you great views of El Cap.
4. Lembert Dome
Just before you leave Yosemite NP via Tioga Pass Road there is the possibility to climb this easy dome that gives you an amazing view over the Yosemite high country and Tuolumne Meadows. The hike is a 4 miles roundtrip and includes a bit of a scramble up to the top. The granite has a really good grip, so don’t be afraid, even though it looks a little steep. If you wear a pair of good sneakers of hiking boots even, you should be fine scrambling up and safely down again.
5. North Dome
My favourite day-hike and surprisingly off the beaten track. It’s a 8 miles round-trip that takes you through the forest and then out onto the granite slab that is North Dome. When you leave the forest you get greeted with an amazing view of Half Dome, being practically at eye level with it’s peak. And you might very well get to enjoy this view all by yourself.