CAR NOTES: LEAVE THE BUG BY 8AM ON SUMMER WEEKENDS OR AFTER 3PM. During the weekdays in summer the Park Service still recommends leaving the Bug by 9AM OR TAKE THE YARTS BUS IN FROM THE BUG AT 6:06AM, 6:36AM, 7:25AM, 8:07AM & 9:04AM. Our June Bug Cafe opens at 6:30am in summer for breakfast, trail lunches and water to go! If you arrive after 9AM look at the Highway 140 part of this Itinerary or relax in the Spa or Cafe
PARK YOUR CAR AT ONE OF THESE LOTS BELOW IMMEDIATELY. Also there is a great east end hikers parking lot 200 meters past Half Dome Village not marked here.
1st Day: Standard Sightseeing With Some Hiking,
Waterfalls & Overlook Point In Yosemite Valley
Valley Loop Drive for sightseeing: Half day about 1 hour bus ride around. We recommend finding a place to park immediately and taking a free Valley Shuttle Bus around Yosemite Valley for your camera to explore. It goes around the entire Valley Loop now. Get out where you want, another bus is 20 minutes behind. Try to shop outside of Yosemite Valley before your trip into the Park because Yosemite Village is a time wasting car traffic mess.
Vernal Falls Mist Trail & Overlook and John Muir Trail Loop: Get off at Happy Isles Trailhead for this excellent falls hike. It is paved until halfway at a view bridge for young children, dogs or strollers. After that plan on getting very wet up the refreshing Mist Trail granite step to the overlook above the Falls. Take the relaxing John Muir Trail back down. You can go all the way to the Nevada Falls further up the John Muir Trail for a day hike. 3 miles R/T 1000 foot gain 2-4 Hours. Almost double for Nevada Falls. Take a lunch and 2 liters water.
Alternative Overlook Point or Big Day Hike? Mirror Lake Loop & Snow Creek Trail. Once past Mirror Lake go as far you you can go up Snow Creek Trail at the far end of Tenaya Valley loop. At top of Valley Rim where the trail flattens, skip over trees on your right for a commanding view of Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest. No reason to go further. 4-5 Miles R/T with loop, Just under 2000 foot elevation gain at 3-5 hours R/T depending upon how far you go. Take a lunch and 2 liters water. Dogs can go on Mirror Lake loop part of trail.
2ND DAY: Hiking , Sequoia Tree Grove, & Overlook Point and Sightseeing. Get out of the Valley and go to the High Sierra!
Sequoia Tree Groves: The Tuolumne Grove is open off of Highway 120 going west towards Tioga Pass just 30 minutes north of Yosemite Valley. The Tuolumne Grove is busier and larger. It has small elevation loss/gain on an old roadbed at about a mile in/out. The Tuolumne Grove has great interpretation and is okay for strollers, children, and dogs! Take a liter of water.
Olmstead Point and Tenaya Lake: Continuing on Highway 120 East towards Tioga Pass stop at Olmstead Point and look at Half Dome and Yosemite Valley From the east. The Nature Trail there is worth it at .04 miles. The Point is also an excellent place later for a sunset. Dogs allowed.
Tenaya Lake is a great place for a picnic on a beach! It will warm as the summer goes for swimming. Take the time to wander around the Loop on the other side at 2.5 miles total, the outlet facing west will need waded through.
Overlook Points: In Tuolumne Meadows find a spot at Pothole Dome just at the west entrance to the Meadow for something fun for all ages. The Lembert Dome may still have large drifts but the views are fantastic of the High Sierra Peaks and the Meadow. Have good boots for this nearly 4 mile loop with an 800 foot gain and take two liters water.
Alternative Big Day Hike: Instead of snowy Cathedral Lakes hike just now look at the Glen Aulin trail from Tuolumne Meadows. There will be snow, so take the right gear, but it is fairly flat to the right flank of the Tuolumne River and stop at Tuuloumne Falls and head back. 13 miles total and 600 ft loss so be there early and take two liters water.
East Side of the Sierras: If you are leaving Yosemite on this route do try to stop at Mono Lake Tufa Towers, the Cinder Cone Loop hike and the Bodie Ghost Town State Park!
3RD DAY or HALF DAY Hiking, Overlook Point, and Sightseeing! Get a GREAT view of Yosemite!
Sentinel Dome for overlook point:Onroute to Glacier Point off of Highway 41 going south, stop instead at Badger Pass Ski Area parking lot and take the Glacier Point Shuttle bus to the Sentinel Dome trailhead for a great 360 degree view of much of the Park and of Yosemite Valley. A mile in and a mile out not much gain. The cheapest but best view! It is fantastic! Add an hour and 500 foot drop to the Taft Point to elongate to great hike. Take a liter and a half and lunch (or dinner for sunset) Bring great hiking boots for at least partial snow into July.
Pioneer Village at Wawona: An assembly of historical Yosemite buildings at the Wawona Covered Bridge and carriage barns. Free Stage Coach rides are the best ever Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 2pm.
Chilnualna Falls Hike at Wawona:Highway 41 is good if you are going south and want a looksee enroute back to the Bug which is 1.5 hours past Wawona through Highway 49. Wawona Meadow Loop is great for dogs. At the other end of Wawona Meadow is the hidden Chilnualna Falls with a 2300 ft gain at 7 miles R/T. Take a lunch and two liters water. Also think about the Sugar Pine Railway or the Yosemite Trails horse rides just past the south entrance.
Remember the Mariposa Sequoia Grove is closed for renovation until October 2017.
HALF DAY at arrival before the hectic Yosemite Valley drive. Hiking, swimming, and sightseeing.
MARIPOSA & AROUND THE BUG ON HIGHWAY 140
El Portal Railroad Park & Merced River Wild and Scenic Area & the Bug Beaches and swimming anywhere or across the silver suspension Briceberg Bridge and further downstream! It’s too cold and swift at the river now so go to the Bug’s Hornets Nest swimming hole is good probably for June but the Bug Loop Trail is good anytime for the hardy.
From Briceberg Bridge upstream there is a single track trail for dogs or Mountain Bikes in the morning. Downstream at the end of the 5 mile dirt road trek along the River to a cascade just before the North Fork of the Merced. Some creeks enroute have some good holes.
Mariposa Old Gold Town & Museums: Shop along the old 1850’s era block and see the Old Jail and the oldest operating western Courthouse. The Mariposa History Museum takes you back to the Gold Rush, whereas the California State Gem and Mineral Museum at the Mariposa Fairgrounds shows what was dug up here and the rest of California. Music on the Green every Saturday eve.
Out further and just off Highway 140 is the historic 49’er town of Hornitos where Ghirardelli Chocolates were first made and outlaws ruled. The old Plaza Bar on the small square is a classic stop for a beer. Bear Valley north of Mariposa has some Gold Rush buildings. Also north on Highway 49 stop at Coulterville for some great gold rush era buildings, John Muir and Coulterville Museum! Go home via Highway 132 or go further up Highway 49 for Gold Towns or Caverns!
4TH DAY Hiking, Overlook Point, Sequoia Trees and Waterfalls.
HETCH HETCHY OFF HIGHWAY 120: Not as busy as Yosemite Valley, just take the day and walk over the dam, through the tunnel and along the south facing side for beautiful lakeside views and late running waterfalls this year. Flat, turn back as time permits or go all the way to Rancheria Falls for a full day. 1.4 hours from the Bug, take a lunch and 2 liters water. Usually too warm to recommend in summer, but the Falls at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir are still going and the lake is awesome and worth a walk.
Merced Sequoia Grove: Quieter and smaller, but a bit longer walk than Tuolumne Grove, stop here enroute to the Hetch Hetchy and the North exit. About 1.5 miles in and 600 foot drop. Take a lunch and a liter of water! Look for Sugar Pines, Douglas Fir and Jeffrey Pines on this route too!