Location: Yosemite National Park, California (Yosemite Valley)
Bike trail length: 8 mile loop through Yosemite Valley from Yosemite Lodge at the Falls to Mirror Lake and back. (The Yosemite NPS site says there are over 12 miles of bike trails in Yosemite)
Time: 1-3 hours depending on the number of stops
My absolute, all-time favorite bike ride is the easy Yosemite Valley loop trail ridden early morning when the crowds are not out yet. During the spring, waterfalls are flowing, the meadows are green and the weather is just perfect. Maybe a little nippy when you first ride out in the morning, but nothing a jacket won’t fix. I’ve ridden this trail many times and I still get that feeling of euphoria everytime I’m on this trail. You know, when you’re so happy you just can’t help but grin ear to ear, like a crazy person (apologies if I scared anyone). It is just insane how gorgeous this place is!! The key is to get out on the trail early, we usually get out by 8 am and we have the trails pretty much to ourselves at least on the way to Mirror Lake. When the crowds come out, it becomes a little harder to take in all the scenery when you have to pay attention to the people sharing the trail with you (this is a multi-use bikeway and foot trail). We brought our own bikes, but there are bike rentals available at the Yosemite Lodge Bike stand. However, the operating hours were from 10 am to 4 pm (“spring through fall”) and all bikes had to be returned by 5:45 pm, which makes it hard for an early morning ride.
The bike ride is easy with flat paved trails for most of the way, except the section near Mirror Lake. There are some rolling hills and a little climb to Mirror Lake. (We’ve been doing this bike ride since my daughter was 7 years old, and she’s never had any trouble with this section.) We parked our bikes on the bike rack that is located part way up to Mirror Lake, then walked up the rest of the way.
We biked the Yosemite Valley loop trail in both directions starting from Yosemite Lodge. The first day we passed by Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Village, the Ahwahnee hotel, the forrested area near Royal Arches and headed up to Mirror Lake.
We also used the official park map of the valley by the National Park Services. The bike trails are hard to see on this map, but they’re there.
We parked our bikes and walked part way on the Mirror Lake loop trail.
The return bike ride involved passing by the Nature Center at Happy Isles, Upper Pines campground, Curry Village, LeConte Memorial Lodge, the chapel, the vista area where everyone takes that iconic picture of Yosemite Falls, and the swinging bridge.
We stopped at the popular Mist Trail near the Nature Center at Happy Isles and decided to walk a bit on the trail. We walked up 0.8 miles to the Vernal Fall Bridge, took some pics and headed back down.
Biking through the last section.
The second day:
We rode the loop in the opposite direction using the short cut near Curry Village that took us between Lower and Upper Pines campground. We didn’t stop at Mirror Lake, but we spent some time climbing the boulders near Royal Arches on the trail between Mirror Lake and The Ahwahnee. The views going the opposite way was different and riding in the opposite direction was well worth it. I don’t think I can choose a favorite, both were incredible! We explored Yosemite Village, ate lunch at the Village Grill, bought some souvenirs at the Village store and looked around the Indian Village and Yosemite museum before heading back. Same path, but different experience.
This is a bike ride I will continue to come back to every chance I get. This place feeds my soul!
I even get a reminder everyday.