Snow Creek Trail
After you venture beyond Mirror Lake, you'll be rewarded with views across Tenaya Canyon and be dwarfed by Half Dome as you climb out of Yosemite Valley, one switchback at a time.
Distance: 9.4 mi (15.1 km) round trip
This trail is tucked back in Tenaya Canyon, accessed from the eastern Yosemite Valley. It is a grueling hike that begins on the Valley floor and climbs to its rim, but which offers great views along the way. Comparable to the Yosemite Falls Trail, this trail climbs steeply along several dozen switchbacks but is narrower in comparison. Snow Creek Falls is the nearby cascade, but is not visible from this trail. You will often find fewer people on this trail compared to other Yosemite Valley trails.
The first part of the trail consists of the Mirror Lake Trail. About a mile beyond Mirror Lake, you'll come to the junction of the Snow Creek Trail. From here, you will begin climbing steeply out of Tenaya Canyon, one switchback after another. You are rewarded with good views of various granite landforms (e.g., Half Dome, Quarter Domes, Clouds Rest) after only a dozen or so switchbacks. The views get better as you climb higher until the trail leaves the open canyon walls and enters the forest. Approximately 2.6 miles (4.2 km) after beginning the uphill climb, you'll reach a trail junction near Snow Creek. A right at the fork brings you to the footbridge and makes a logical turnaround point. If you aren't up for the strenuous, 2,700-foot climb to the footbridge, then take pleasure in knowing that you can enjoy fantastic views from partway up and choose your turnaround point at your own leisure.
Did You Know?
Starting in 1907, the Yosemite Valley Railroad brought passengers bound for Yosemite Valley up the Merced River canyon to El Portal. From there, they would take stagecoaches to the Valley. Some of the old train cars are now on display in El Portal.