Yosemite National Park Best Hikes


Article by Reneé Rayles

Photography by Reneé Rayles

Yosemite National Park Best Hikes was originally published on Renee Rayles

Spectacular ancient sequoias, El Capitan, Half Dome, and the largest waterfall in North America are all located inside one spectacular park, Yosemite National Park. A perfect, destination vacation to get in touch with nature. In fact, The National Park Service states “Yosemite National Park supports more than 400 species of vertebrates including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.” With all of these picturesque descriptions of Yosemite, it was a trip that was on our bucket list.

"Although the park is open all year, nearly 75 percent of visitors come to the park May through October, and most of them never leave the 6-square miles that is Yosemite Valley." —US Department of Interior

Our venture to Yosemite included a drive from Los Angeles up the CA 99 to 41 North. A spectacular drive that is recommended to drive in daylight. Twists, turns, and an awe-inspiring landscape along our 5 1/2 hour trip. While the miles are not long, the sharp turns require slowing down and taking your time once getting close to the park. The anticipation of what Yosemite National Park will look like if the scenic drive up to the park is this memorizing is starting to set in.

Rush Creek Lodge images provided by Rush Creek Lodge.

We arrive just in time to see Rush Creek Lodge in the daylight and enjoy the stunning sunset. Our wooden porch with chairs to watch the long and slow sunset allowed us to relax in the peacefulness of the area. Looking out from our patio we could see a winter wonderland all from the comfort of our balcony.

Rush Creek Lodge Spa opens in the spring of 2020.

We see nightly s’mores are about to take place and head down to the fire pit. Before we fuel up on dessert we decide to have dinner at their lounge. Next, we head over to the activities room and play some pool and pinball. It is time for bed because tomorrow we have a tour in the early hours!

To book your experience visit Rush Creek Lodge

Up and at ’em early, we meet our tour guide, Bry Hoffman the Outdoor Recreation and Guiding Manager and Enthusiast for Evergreen and Rush Creek Lodge. We learned quickly that she is definitely an enthusiast for Yosemite National Park. Bry was kind enough to give us her expert knowledge and offered itineraries of her top three hikes by the time of year. Check out her insanely amazing photos and detailed hikes to see some of the most spectacular landscapes in the park. Be sure to keep up with her on Instagram @bryannhoff .

Eagle Peak: Winter Pick

Eagle Peak in Yosemite is by far one of my favorite hikes for seeing majestic views looking down into Yosemite Valley. This hike is especially great to do in the December/ January months. You may need snowshoes or yak trax depending on the conditions but you can’t go wrong with this hike. This is a way to really escape any valley visitors and get off the grid a bit to see snow peak mountains and half dome in the distance.

Panorama Trail: May—Spring Pick

This trail is a great May hike to do. This is a great trail to do with friends. This hike offers panoramic views of Yosemite Valley from above. You will get to see the beauty of a bunch of different angles of the Valley including Vernal, and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, Illuioute Falls, Glacier Point, Half Dome, and etc. If you are looking to get away from the crowds and into nature walking on the rim of the valley this is the hike for you. O and did I mention waterfalls. Indeed I did. This season is the best to see them at their best flow with a lot of different wildflowers blooming.

Glen Aulin: July—Summer Pick

If you are looking for a nice long walk to do that is pretty moderate this is the hike for you. Make sure to bring your bathing suit and change of clothes. At the end, you will be rewarded with a natural waterfall and pool at White Cascade Fall. Glen Aulin is a perfect way to see the Tuolumne River ( one of the two rivers in Yosemite). This hike also provides you with great backcountry views through the alpine forest, granite slabs, and raging water flowing through the wilderness. You will see waterfalls on this hike one being Tuolumne Fall and one being White Cascade Fall. A good way to see waterfalls if they are not flowing in the valley!

Kuna Peak: End of August—Summer Pick

If you are looking for a backpacking trip or looking to see a diverse area of the Sierra Nevada, this is your hike. Keep in mind you must be physically fit to accomplish this hike. It is possible to do this hike in a day but it is a whopping 23 miles so backpack it if you are not up for that challenge. This hike offers you incredible views of Mono Lake and the East Side of Yosemite and some of its large peaks. It is the 3rd highest peak in Yosemite and o do you feel it when you get to the top. The views are so worth it! You will be scrambling up sheer rocks when hiking so be prepared and safe at all times. You most likely will see no one out here but maybe 1-2 people. Make sure to keep your eyes out for the plane crash. If you are into history and cool views with an intense workout this is the hike for you. This is a true backcountry experience.

Mt. Gibs: October—Fall Pick

If you are looking to climb a peak and do it in a day no problem this is your hike. I think I classify Mt. Gibs as one of my favorite hikes because I had the chance to a Sierra Nevada Big Horn Sheep on this Hike. One of Yosemite’s rarest animals out there !!!! Also Mt.Gibs. It is adjacent to its sister peak Mt. Dana which is the 2nd tallest peak in Yosemite. I have also climbed mt Dana but the view you receive of Mt. Dana from Mt. Gibbs Is breathtaking. Go see for yourself. I will warn you though this hike has no defined trail. There is a bit of scrambling and research that needs to be done before you embark on this journey. Make sure to dress warm because when you get to the top of the peak in October you will thank me! 

Yosemite might be our nation’s 3rd national park, but it sparked the idea of national parks. Twenty-six years before it was a national park, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant on June 30, 1864, protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley. It was the first time the government protected land because of its natural beauty so that people could enjoy it, and we’re still benefiting from their foresight today. Thanks to John Muir’s passionate writing to further protect the delicate ecosystem of the High Sierra, Yosemite later became a national park. —US Department of Interior

Follow Renee Rayles @reneerayles

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