Sometimes you just need a mountain fix! When this feeling hit, my daughter and I hopped into the car and headed to Yosemite National Park for the day. Honestly before we decided to fit in one more summer hike together, I had never, ever thought of Yosemite as a day destination for us. While it made for a rather full day, the day was perfect!
We meant to start early, but well, we were a bit slow out the door. While the drive is about three an a half hours, there is very little traffic. With the car music playing, mother daughter conversations, and the varied scenery of farmland, rolling hills, and majestic mountains – our time in the car was worth every minute.
The only draw back to getting our later start was trying to find parking in the park. Yosemite Valley is a highly popular destination and the main parking lot was full. We were directed to the parking lot at Yosemite Valley Lodge. Yes, there were people everywhere! He hoped onto the shuttle and headed to Vernal Falls, our destination for our day hike.
I had hiked Vernal Falls in the past, but my daughter had not. Since our time was limited we thought that this hike would give us the most bang for our buck. The hike is a climb, but the destination and the sights all along the trail are worth it!
We hiked along the Mist Trail which offers many beautiful views of Vernal Falls. Last time I hiked Mist Trail, earlier in the summer, it was very misty and I got drenched! This hike, midsummer, was not so misty, but it still offered a bit of mist to help with the heat of the day. Take a short jaunt off the main trail and you can get some spectacular pictures in front of the falls. These pictures were taken on a smaller trail that is off the main trail.
When we eventually got to the top, we sat by the pooled water and had our lunch. It was a beautiful picnic spot!
The hike down was much faster than the hike up! I was a bit concerned going up about the return trip, some areas were very steep and for me, going up is always easier on my knees than the downhill. Luckily, the steep return was fine, and we were back at the bottom before I realized it.
The return shuttle trip was a bit problematic because there were so many people waiting for the shuttle. The Park Service sent some extra shuttle buses to deal with the overflow, and while this was good, we spent a lot of time waiting. We ended up walking to another shuttle pick up location because we were tired of waiting and figured that would actually be faster – it was. We added a couple of extra miles onto our hike by walking to another location!
We stopped in Yosemite Village for a drink and snack. We were feeling the need to refresh and energize. Once we were back in the car we washed up the best we could and headed on home. We stopped in Mariposa for a delicious Mexican dinner. Mariposa was an ideal stop for food and there were many restaurants for the choosing. Funny thing, halfway through our dinner a family vacationing from Germany was seated at the table next to us. This same family hiked the trail alongside us and we stopped to take each other’s photos at various locations. They were much cleaner at the restaurant than us, since they stopped at their hotel and cleaned up! It was fun seeing them one more time and to wish them well on their American vacation.
Once again my daughter and I were in the car and headed home! A day hike in Yosemite is completely possible when you live in the Bay Area!
Whenever you head out on a hike, make sure you carry plenty of water! A few details regarding our hike:
Elevation at trailhead: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters)
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet (300 meters) to top of Vernal Fall; 1,900 feet (580 meters) to top of Nevada Fall
I do love Yosemite; it holds a special place in my heart and life. You can read about how hiking Half Dome helped change my life. Now that I have realized that I can make it a day trip, I think we will get there more often.