• Rainbow over Half Dome


    National Park California

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  • Road Closures Due to El Portal Fire

    The Big Oak Flat Road between Crane Flat and the El Portal Road is temporarily closed. There is no access to Yosemite Valley via the Big Oak Flat Road or Highway 120. Tioga Road is open and accessible via Big Oak Flat and Tioga Pass Entrances. More »

  • Campground Closures Due to Fire

    Crane Flat, Bridalveil Creek, and Yosemite Creek Campgrounds are temporarily closed. More »

  • Yosemite National Park is Open

    Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and Wawona/Mariposa Grove areas are open and accessible via Highways 140 and 41. Tioga Road is not accessible via Highways 140 and 41 due to a fire.

Cook's Meadow Loop

Walk through the heart of it all! Enjoy views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, and Royal Arches from the center of Yosemite Valley as you saunter through this large open meadow.

Morning view of Yosemite Falls from Cook's Meadow

Morning view of Yosemite Falls from Cook's Meadow

Trail Overview

Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km) loop
Elevation gain: Flat
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 30 minutes
Begin at: Yosemite Valley Visitor Center (shuttle stop #5 or #9) Cook's Meadow is also accessible from shuttle stop #11 (near Sentinel Bridge) or shuttle stop #6 (Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead)

This short, easy walk offers stunning views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Sentinel Rock. From the visitor center, walk west along the bicycle path toward Lower Yosemite Fall. At shuttle stop #6, cross the street and follow the bike path, bearing left as the path forks. At Sentinel Bridge parking area (shuttle stop #11), walk out onto the bridge to enjoy a classic view of Half Dome before returning to the parking area. Follow the boardwalk back across the meadow, cross the two streets, and turn right to return to the visitor center.

You can just as easily walk this loop in reverse; a self-guiding brochure is available in front of the visitor center describing the trail in a clockwise direction.

This trail is wheelchair accessible (when not covered in snow).

The Cook's Meadow Trail is open year-round and is a great spot to visit no matter when you come to Yosemite as you are always rewarded with a great view. In winter, the path may be snow-covered or icy.

Cook's Meadow Loop

Stay Safe

  • Boardwalks are slippery when wet and even more so when covered in snow or frost.

Water is not available along the trail. A drinking fountain is located at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, where you may choose to end or start your walk. Additionally, a water fountain is available near the Lower Yosemite Fall restrooms.

Restrooms are not available along this walk. Restrooms are available at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, where you may choose to end or start your walk. Additionally, restrooms are available at the Lower Yosemite Fall area.

The nearest parking is located in Yosemite Village at the day use parking area. Sentinel Bridge (shuttle stop #11) also has a small parking area, which is a midway point through this walk (and could work as a starting and ending point).

You can begin this walk at the the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, accessible by the Valley Visitor Shuttle (7 am to 10 pm year-round) at shuttle stop #5 and #9. From there, walk west along the bike path toward Lower Yosemite Fall. At shuttle stop #6, cross the street and follow the bike path. You can also begin this walk by taking the shuttle directly to stop #6. Additionally, the Cook's Meadow area is accessible from stop #11 at Sentinel Bridge.

Trail Etiquette
Share the trail! Leashed pets, bicycles, and strollers are allowed. Also, stay on the path. Do not venture out into the meadow, which causes trampling and damages the ecosystem, which is important to the many plants and animals that thrive in this fragile environment. Keep your food within arm's reach at all times and do not feed the wildlife. Carry out all trash and food waste (fruit peels, shells, etc.).

Other Easy Hikes in Yosemite Valley

<< Back to Yosemite Valley Day Hikes

Did You Know?

Wawona Covered Bridge

Built to connect human developments on both sides of the South Fork Merced River, the Wawona Covered Bridge is one of few covered bridges in the region. Built in 1868 by Yosemite’s first guardian, Galen Clark, the Wawona Covered Bridge boasts state significance within transportation, entertainment, and recreation contexts.