CAR NOTES: LEAVE THE BUG BY 8AM OVER THE HOLIDAYS AND WEEKENDS TO AVOID IN-VALLEY TRAFFIC. OR TAKE THE YARTS BUS IN FROM THE BUG AT 6:05AM, 6:35AM, 8:20AM & 12:05PM. PARK YOUR CAR ANYWHERE AND TAKE THE BUS AROUND THE VALLEY. Outside the Valley use the freedom of your car, but see YARTS.com for the busses serving Highway 41 and 120 too. Our June Bug Cafe opens at 7am for breakfast, trail lunches and water to go. Come back for dinner before 9:30pm.
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 and taking a free Valley Shuttle Bus around Yosemite Valley for your camera to explore. It goes around to the El Capitan Meadow on the 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 mess (unless it’s raining or midweek whereas it’s worth it for the Museums).
Vernal Falls Mist Trail & Overlook and John Muir Trail Loop: Gonna be a wet hike. Get off bus 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 1 liter water.
Alternative Overlook Point or Big Day Hike? Mirror Lake Loop & Snow Creek Trail. Once past Mirror Lake for fall colors, 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. 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 or HALF DAY Hiking or skiing & Overlook Point,Sentinel Dome for overlook point:
Tuolumne Sequoia Grove: 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.
Sentinel Dome: Glacier Point Road is now open. Stop at Washburn Point instead to avoid crowds if you are not hiking. Otherwise definitely stop along the road at Sentinel Dome Trailhead and head out on the rolling trail one mile to the Dome. Very easy for a stunning 360 degree view of the park and valley! Go little further to taft Point for a loop walk, it has cool rock formations and views. 2-4 hours depending, take a liter water and lunch!
Alternative Big Day Hike:
Upper Yosemite Falls: Park at Camp 4 or at Yosemite Lodge for the Upper Yosemite Falls hike. You will like this south facing hike in cold days for it is a warm hike. You are not going the whole way up (unless there is no snow up there) just to Columbia Rock for lunch and pop around the corner 500 meters further for a stunning view of Upper Yosemite Falls. 980 ft gain at 3 miles R/T Liter of water and lunch.
3rd DAY or HALF DAY for Hiking, Overlook Point, Sequoia Trees and Waterfalls or going to SF or Sacramento using Hwy 120.
Hetch Hetchy Valley: Not as busy as Yosemite Valley, just take the day and walk over the dam, through the tunnel and along the south facing very warm side for beautiful lakeside cliff views and waterfalls along the way. 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.
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 and lunch! Look for Sugar Pines, Douglas Fir and Jeffrey Pines on this route too!
HALF DAY or GOING HOME: Mariposa and Merced River Wild & Scenic Area
At The Bug: Take the two hour Bug Loop trail in the morning or evening. It can be very difficult, slippy, steep and narrow. Look for the green diamond marker on the trees every 50 feet about 12 feet up and at intersections. Red markers are trail back to the lodge. The blue marker is a short cut halving the walk. The swimming hole is good right now, but you must be wary of slippy rocks. Listen for the water falls and trail that zig zags down. If you get lost head back down to the Bear Creek and look up the taller slope. Watch for poison oak.
Music and smores at the Firepit Amphitheater Sunday and Tuesdays nights sundown to 11pm. Great music, singalong and stories. Grab the extra guitar from the office and jam along. Cancelled if the day is hotter than 95 degrees.
Merced River Wild and Scenic Area From Briceberg Bridge upstream there is a single track trail for dogs or Mountain Bikes. You can also mountain bike up the Burma Grade going up right there or cycle downstream on the dirt road (5 miles each way). Downstream at the end of the dirt road trek along the River you can walk to a cascade just before the North Fork of the Merced with your dog.
Hite Cove Trail: 10 miles further up the river where the South Fork marries the Merced park across from the houses there and walk up the road to the trail sign. Great for dogs, salamanders and ultimately winter and spring flowers. This trail is the local Ahwahnee Miwok trail to their winter grounds (Yosemite Valley was their summer grounds) and they were massacred and pushed out for John Hite’s gold mine. He did marry the Miwok woman who showed him the gold. Remnants entice you to the opening of the site. 100 ft gain and 9 miles R/T
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 in summer only.
Further Down 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.