Trekking and horse riding
A day’s hike – Upper Yosemite Falls
A 3-mile uphill hike leads to the base of Upper Yosemite Falls, a cascade of water dropping nearly 1,500 feet in a single leap. The trek includes some very steep sections and innumerable switchbacks and is best tackled over a full day: carry a packed lunch and plenty of drinking water.
Detour – Lower Yosemite Falls
A short paved footpath leads to Lower Yosemite Falls, the final section of the tallest waterfall in North America. To reach the immensely more spectacular Upper Yosemite Falls requires much greater legwork.
A half day hike – the Mist Trail
There’s little in the way of physical exertion necessary to complete the so-called Mist Trail but you’re certain to get wet if making the trek during the spring, when the trail’s two waterfalls love to give visitors a welcoming spray; dress accordingly.
From the Yosemite Valley’s Happy Isles Nature Centre, a flat mile-long path leads to the base of 300-ft-high Vernal Falls, beyond which lies an uphill climb to the more powerful – and much more dramatic – Nevada Falls, where the gushing waters of the Merced River plunge 594 feet.
Detour – El Captain
The world’s tallest granite monolith, El Capitan provides a 3,593-ft sheer wall to Yosemite Valley, rising three times taller than New York’s Empire State Building. Scarred by cracks and fissures, El Capitan’s near-vertical face provides an irresistible challenge for advanced climbers – who mostly prefer to avoid the summer months, when the sun beats down on the rock making it hot to touch.
Yosemite on Horseback
You can save your leg muscles and learn a great deal about Yosemite National Park by taking a guided horseback tour, which might last anything from an hour to several days. The summer-only tours operate from Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona and Yosemite Village. Any park visitor centre will be able to provide details, or visit (http://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/guided-bus-tours/)
Detour – Mirror Lake
The silting process which transformed a prehistoric lake into the present-day floor of Yosemite Valley is being repeated on a smaller scale at Mirror Lake. Steadily filled by river–borne deposits of mud and gravel, Mirror Lake is usually completely dry by mid-summer; when replenished by the spring snow melt, however, the lake reflects the summits of surrounding peaks in its uncannily still surface.
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