Beginner on Yosemite Hike

Every private Yosemite hike begins with the smallest step.

When it comes to enjoying the trails in Yosemite National Park, just about any day is a great day to take a hike. And you don’t have to be a super buff athlete to enjoy a short or long trek somewhere in the 1,200-square-mile park.

And hiking, as long as you carry the proper supplies—water, sun block, dry socks, a hat—is one of the best activities you can do to revive your spirit and ease your mind, especially when you’re in the forest primeval.

You could visit Yosemite many times and still not hit all the trails. Opportunities to explore include Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows and Glacier Point Road. The Half Dome Cable Hike takes adventurers to Vernal and Nevada Falls on the way to Half Dome. Pohono Trail, which leads to Taft Point and Sentinel Dome, is considered an easy hike, as are the hikes to Lower Yosemite Falls and Mariposa Grove.

Medium difficulty hikes include an eight-mile round trip to Cathedral Falls and the 8.5-mile one-way hike to Panorama Trail, with fantastic sights along the way. For the hardcore hikers, Upper Yosemite Falls is a 7.6-mile hike one-way, with a climb in elevation over 2,500 feet. Then there’s the trail to Glacier Point, 9.4 miles roundtrip that takes devoted hikers to an elevation of 3,200 feet. Winter visitors to the park can traverse cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.

Yosemite Liberty Cap

Big or small, there is a Yosemite hiking trail for your skill level.

You need to be smart, of course, when you’re hiking. Never leave the trail (duh!), and do not litter. Follow smoking restrictions, and give the right of way to horses and mules on the trails. It’s always great to get outdoors, but it’s not remotely the same walking in your neighborhood or even your local park as it is traversing the paths our forefathers (and foremothers) did in one of the most revered national parks: Yosemite.