So now that we have reviewed the planning and traveling to Yosemite, lets move on to what to hikes and activities you can do while there. Like I stated in the previous post, dogs are limited to paved trails in Yosemite. At first you may think this would severely limit what you can do, but in Yosemite, there are plenty of places to hike that are not only easy to access, but have great views and get you into peaceful and relaxing presence of the great outdoors with your dog. I have been to Yosemite more times than I can remember with my family and friends, but this was the first time we took the dog and it provided us with a completely unique experience that I will never forget.
The first full day were in the valley, we decided to hike in a loop from our camp site in Upper Pines to Yosemite Village, then to the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls, and back around through Curry Village before returning to camp. I know this probably doesn’t need to be said, but make sure you bring your camera on these hikes, and everywhere else you go, because you never know when you will run into a great picture of the landscape or wildlife that may only last a moment. This hike gave us the opportunity to see some of the most popular areas of the valley and if this is your first time in Yosemite, I highly recommend this hike first because it will help you become familiar with the general layout of the valley and make it easier to navigate in the future. The first part of the hike was pretty straight forward. We walked on the main road that goes through Yosemite, stopping to admire the views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls from the main meadow. The meadow is also a great place to see the local deer up close and personal, they are often seen grazing only feet from the road during dusk and dawn. If you have a dog that has never encountered a deer, or is aggressive when confronting to other animals, make sure you keep your distance so you don’t ruin the experience for others by having your dog bark or spook the deer.
After passing the meadow, we crossed the bridge and headed toward Yosemite Village. As you get closer to Yosemite Village, the trees will again fade away and expose the second large meadow in the Valley, which will again give you great views of both Half Dome and, to some extent, Yosemite Falls.
After passing the meadow, you will walk into Yosemite Village. There are a few outdoor eating areas at which you can order food and sit with your dog, as well as picnic tables around the shops. You won’t be able to go into any of the buildings in the village, so if you need to get groceries or souvenirs, someone will have to wait with the dog outside while everyone else shops. Because we were in the middle of a hike, we passed through the village without stopping, but if you want to take some time to get some ice cream or food, this is the place to do it.
As we continued on, we approached the entrance to the Lower Yosemite Falls trail. This is a fully paved trail, so you and the dogs can go all the way to the base of the falls. This trail is a very easy hike and is almost completely flat. Half way through the hike there will be an option to take a very quick detour to a falls viewing area. We recommend doing this because it will give you great photo opportunities and is right next to the stream that formed from the waterfall. Sierra took a quick stroll through the stream before she suddenly stopped and froze, looking into the bushes close by. We were expecting to see a bear when we turned around, but it was just a deer that was making its way through the brush over to the stream. Sierra lay down in front of the deer, and she and the deer stared at each other long enough for us to snap a few pics and then the deer crossed the stream and disappeared.
After the small detour, we finished the hike to the bottom of the falls. This area is crowded and loud from the roar of the water. If it’s a hot day it would be a great place to go to cool of because the mist coming off the falls will be blowing on you consistently. Being a snow dog, Sierra loved the breeze and cold water, but because it was the beginning of April, it was a little chilly for the humans to be wearing shorts and a t-shirt. 🙂 We stayed for a while to admire the view and then headed back down to the main road.
After getting back to the main road, we crossed my favorite bridge in the valley, Sentinel Bridge, which gave us a great view of the river and Half Dome. (TIP: This is a great place to be a sunset if you want to get some amazing scenic pictures.)
After taking a short snack break on the bridge, we headed back through Curry Village and back into our campground. The hike was a total of about 10 miles and we did it with breaks in about 4 hours. Overall, it was a great way to see the diversity of the valley, which included the meadows, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, plant life, and of course the famous granite peaks. After we got back from the hike, we spent some time relaxing around the campsite and eventually made dinner and again settled down to a roaring campfire before calling it a night and going to bed.