Mirror Lake, Yosemite valley, trails and maps

Here is a map of locations, walkways and restrooms in a display right at Mirror Lake:

lake and trails

Please note that the “Rock Rubble Dam”, the pink dots between the two sections of Mirror lake, is a dangerous place to try to cross the lake whenever there is much water at all. See this video of near-tragedy when two young men tried to cross there.

Half Dome rises right above the lower pool of Mirror Lake:

lake and Half Dome

Mount Watkins is on the left in this photo, with the bottom edge of Half Dome showing on the right:

lake and mountains in background

Both of the above photos were taken in May with lots of water in Mirror Lake. By the end of the summer it is much more dried up.

A different perspective of the depth of Tenaya Canyon, and the positions of Mount Watkins and Half Dome at Mirror Lake can been seen from the top of Sentinel Dome. From Sentinel Dome you can see Half Dome, Mount Watkins, Tressider Peak, Clouds Rest, Kuna Crest, Fletcher Peak, Vogelsang Peak, Mount Watkins, Cathedral peak, Ahwiyah Point, Quarter Domes, and Little Yosemite Valley and Tenaya Canyon and each of these is identified at:
https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/photosmultimedia/upload/sentineldome-key.jpg

There are five potential routes / trails / roads to get to Mirror Lake, four from Yosemite valley, and one much longer route from the high country.

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Dogs and bikes are prohibited on all unpaved trails in Yosemite (see also links to Yosemite rules and regulations)

sign with an image of a dog with a red diagonal stripe through it, and an image of a bike with a diagonal red stripe through it

Two paved (former roads) routes are okay for dogs (on a maximum 6 foot leash) and bikes.

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The Snow Creek trail is a 11.3 mile hike from Tenaya Lake or 8.2 miles from Highway 120.

The map below showstopographical map the end of the multi-mile Snow Creek trail in pink, (and see descriptions below) two routes from the Ahwahnee hotel in gray, two routes that start at shuttle stop 17 in yellow and orange.

Two routes are from the Ahwahnee Hotel , (temporarily named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel). On the unpaved hiking trail or the paved road route you may find fewer people than on other routes from Yosemite valley. Use the free shuttle bus to take you to stop 3.

The unpaved trail along the cliffs below the Royal Arches, (across the parking lot from the Majestic (Ahwahnee) hotel entrance, the top dotted line on the map below) is longer but can be much more pleasant and less crowded than the paved road from free shuttle bus stop 17, the usually recommended hike start. OR, if that trial is too wet or you are riding a bike, or have a dog, you can use the route of the dotted line just below that one.

map showing trails and bus stops for the Mirror Lake trail, Yosemite

At the start of the cliffside trail, in some months, you can see and feel mist from the Royal Arch Cascades or may be walking in water.

(in heavy rain – two photos below from February 2017 – the white is not snow, it is rushing water – this section of trail can become an unsafe creek/river!)

multiple creeks flowing across a normally dry trail

water flowing in a trail during rainstorm

Compare the photo above to April 2017:

a trail with a little water flowing across it

The trailheads for (starts of) the unpaved hiking trail and the paved road for bikes are at the north-east end of the main hotel guest parking lot, just to the left of the red Valet parking sign shown in this photo:

trailhead just beyond a parking lot

At the start of the cliffside hiking trail, right next to the parking lot, on the left hand side of the trail, you might be able to spot a rock where Yosemite indians ground acorns and left behind deep holes in the rock. (You could call it the original Ahwahnee kitchen.)

large flat rock by side of trail

If you start up the trail and decide it is too wet for you,

man walking on very wet or partially submerged steps across a creek

you can turn around, then turn left and walk (okay for bikes and dogs) the dirt/paved road through the valet parking lot, through some storage and on to where it dead ends at a “T” intersection with a paved road/path. You then turn left, perhaps after walking out on Sugarpine bridge to take a look at the river.

This path will take you past backpacker’s walk-in campground and on to join the road from shuttle stop #17 (which is described below).

In the photo below, the hotel is in the upper left, the Ahwahnee Bridge crosses the Merced River near the center and Sugarpine Bridge is to the right.

river, bridges and hotel

Two more routes are from the “official” Mirror Lake trailhead beginning at at free shuttle bus stop #17, a walk up a former road (which is okay for vehicles with handicapped permits and may have park service vehicles as well).

And here is a NPS photo/map of the trail to Mirror Lake as a loop from shuttle stop #17, note the Ahwahnee hotel ( labeled as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) in the left hand side of the map:

map showing cliffs, trails on Mirror Lake loop

The left hand side of the orange dotted line is the road from shuttle stop #17, the right hand side is a unpaved trail that comes off the road.

Most of the way up the road, it becomes steeper and rental bikes are not allowed past that point.

sign that says bicyclists stop, rented bikes not permitted on steep hill ahead, park here and walk to mirror lake

Google maps 360 degree street view of Mirror Lake.

and a second Mirror Lake street view.

And another Mirror Lake view

and perhaps also of interest:

places to take photos of Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park (with maps)

places to take photos of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park (with maps)

The use of cell phones for photography (with or without a selfie stick) has made preventable injury or even death by selfie common. They were only taking a selfie