Mirror Lake (in Yosemite Valley) is famous for its reflections of Half Dome and Mount Watkins when the water level is high enough (in spring); it's more a pond than a lake. Hike is mostly flat. About 1.5 miles each way. Very stroller friendly the whole way.
I love hiking just about anywhere in Yosemite. But what I love about the trail to Mirror Lake is that it offers a little something for everyone.
At 2 miles round trip and little-to-no elevation gain, it’s easily manageable with kids either in backpacks, on foot or even on bikes. For the younger crowd, there is plenty to do along the trail.
For starters, there are the trees and river running right alongside most of the trail. There are loads of rocks of all sizes for little ones eager to try bouldering. My kids also enjoyed seeking out the perfect walking stick from among the hundreds lying around. And then there were the amazing stacked rock sculptures we spotted directly across from the Lake.
And what is there for parents, you ask? If you visit when the water level is high enough (usually in the spring) and calm enough, you’ll catch some breathtaking reflections of the surrounding cliffs in the Lake. That and one of the closest views of Half Dome you’ll find anywhere in the park.
Just keep in mind that Mirror Lake is less of a lake and more of a pond for most of the year, so timing your visit just right is key. The trail can be hot and definitely crowded during the summer.
This hike could be completed in a hour or so, but I highly recommend you take your time. This is one of those spots that begs you to stop and enjoy the view. And don't forget to play along the way.
• Trail is paved (it’s actually a wide vehicle-free road that’s also perfect for bikes)
• Estimated hike time is about an hour, but we found lots to do along the way & easily spent several hours including hike time & a picnic lunch
• Bathrooms can be found along the trail near Mirror Lake
• No concessions available along the route
• No picnic tables, either
• Summer visits can be crowded & hot, so plan to hit this one off-season
On my family's first visit to Yosemite National Park, I parked at Curry Village with my crew of kids ages 4 to 11 to take advantage of Yosemite's free shuttle which runs on a continuous loop through the valley. Allowing for a bit of spontaneity in our day, we hopped off at shuttle stop #17/Mirror Lake when the shuttle driver announced the presence of water in the lake—Mirror Lake only holds water in spring and early summer and is as close as you can get to the base of Half Dome.
Mirror Lake’s trail is two miles round trip. It's a stroller-friendly walk that's perfect for families visiting with young children. While enjoying the trail, approaching nightfall forced us to turn around before we reached the lake so we never got to see it! However, the part of the trail we did experience was so much fun!
Mirror Lake, which is more of a pond at this point, was named after its reflection of the surrounding cliffs. It's naturally turning into a meadow, so each year it shrinks a bit more from the previous year. Before visiting, it might be fun to show your kids photographs of the lake so they can see how it's dissappearing.
1. In summer, Mirror Lake is a popular swim hole.
2. Trail is wheelchair accessible.
Go on this hike with your kids with the right expectations and it will be a great experience. Wrong ones can lead to big disappointments.
As a teenager, I couldn't wait to get to this lake to go swimming and find a big rock to jump off into the water. That was the wrong expectation.
As a mom, I knew better and took my kids on this long hike (1 mile one way is long for them) with a steep hill the last half of the hike with the expectation of finding a widened flat stream area to wade in, throw rocks into and explore. We chose to go on a rather cool day in the summer and that was also good planning. It can be a rather hot hike with not enough water to swim in at the end.
We were pleasantly surprised with seeing the flat, wide face of Half Dome with a climber on a "port a ledge" half way up the face. My little ones waded in the water and climbed some big rocks and had a great time.
I recently saw my friend's pictures of their camping trip to Yosemite on facebook. I couldn't understand where they had found a big rock with a big area of water to jump into. Apparently, Mirror Lake is big enough to jump into in late May! I was shocked and now can't wait to visit this place earlier in the season than August.
It's a very easy hike. Nice hike for anyone, young and old. A tip is to take the paved trail after the bridge instead of the trail horses take which you will see first and might be confusing. We'll definitely go back here again.
This is a great place to visit for everyone. Even if you are disabled, you can visit. Just make sure that you don't go during a drought cycle. Otherwise this is a spectacularly fun place to visit with all the outdoor appeal. Bring a lunch as this is a great place to lunch as well.
Whether you get here by biking, hiking, bus, car, or horse this is a great place for all to visit. If you are disabled and have a placard you can drive 'behind the scenes' and go here with your friends and family.
We took a nice bike ride from Curry Village, had lunch at the Awhanee and then rode on to Mirror Lake with our kids, ages 5 and 7. The lake was beautiful and the ride was perfect. We will always take bikes when we return to Yosemite. My kids had fun looking for wildlife in the lake.
This is a perfect hike for young kids. Our 5 year old was able to do the whole hike no problem at all. Mirror Lake has beautiful reflections of Half Dome. Kids really enjoyed stripping down to the swim trunks and walking into the shallow lake. The entire walk is paved and flat so feel free to bring your stroller. Along the the walk, there is a fallen tree trunk that kids will enjoy using like a see saw, but be careful to have them hold on. I saw two kids fall off (mine included) but they didn't get hurt since they were falling on dirt.