With a fresh perspective looking up at Half Dome directly from its base, you'll be rewarded with views of Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, Washington Column, and more.
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) round trip to lake and back; 5 miles (8 km) loop around lake
This trail begins at shuttle stop #17. The first mile of this trail is a paved service road that leads directly to Mirror Lake. You may access the loop trail from the end of the paved path. The loop follows Tenaya Creek beyond the lake, and crosses two bridges after the Snow Creek Trail junction before returning past Mirror Lake on the south side of Tenaya Canyon. (There is no safe access to the north side of Mirror Lake directly from the south side of the loop, except via bridges at the west and east ends of the trail).
Mirror Lake has little water much of the year and, while pleasant at any time of year, it is fullest in spring and early summer, when Tenaya Creek flows freely with fresh snowmelt. When water is calm, the lake offers beautiful reflections of surrounding cliffs. Exhibits along the trail tell the story of Mirror Lake's lake-to-meadow succession, and also highlight some of the cultural history of the area. Mirror Lake is often referred to as Mirror Meadow in late summer due to the lack of water and the influx of grasses and sandy areas.
This trail is open year-round. In winter it can be icy and snowy, especially along the south side of Tenaya Creek.
Drinking water is not available at the trailhead or along the trail. Come prepared, and if you opt to extend your hike to travel the full Mirror Lake Loop or up the Snow Creek Trail, plan accordingly.
Vault toilets are available about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) from the trailhead and also 1 mile (1.6 km) from the trailhead at the end of the paved service road at Mirror Lake. There are no additional restrooms along the trail.
Parking is not available at the trailhead. The nearest parking area is at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village), though you can easily access the trail by parking anywhere in eastern Yosemite Valley and taking the free shuttle (get off at shuttle stop #17).
The Valley Visitor Shuttle (7 am to 10 pm year-round) serves the trailhead at shuttle stop #17. You can also bicycle the first mile of the trail to the end of the paved service road. From there, you can either turn around or park your bike and begin your hike.
Leashed pets, bicycles, and strollers are allowed on the first paved mile of the trail. Beyond that, they are prohibited. 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.).
Last updated: October 11, 2018