Zumwalt Meadow is the most popular trail in Kings Canyon. It´s an easy 1,5 mile loop around a georgeous meadow, which
almost always has deers and several species of songbirds. The meadow is paradise for birdwatchers. But don´t expect to get
access to the meadow itself: It´s protected so the trail goes around the meadow. As always chanses to see wildlife is best
Songbird at Zumwalt Meadow
3. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is often callad the most beautiful place on earth. And it´s hard to argue with that assumption: The grand valley
surrounded by spellbounding granite rocks, is intoxicatingly gerogeous! You don´t have to be particularly interseted in
nature to realise that Yosemite is the highlight of a visit in California.
3.1 Glacier Point
Few visitors miss a visit at Glacier Point, which has a sensentional view of the valley and the Half Dome rock. But an advise
is to go there late in the afternoon and stay until after sunset since the view is even better then.
3.2 Taft Point and Sentinel Dome
View from Glacier Point
Two great complements of Glacier Point are the short hikes to Taft Point (2.2 mile round-trip) and Sentinel Dome (2.4 mile
round-trip). Whereas Glaciers Point offers an awesome view, Sentinel Dome has a panorama view the Glacier Point doesn´t
have. Taft Point, on the other hand, has a amazing overlook: Look down and you have 3 000 feet under you! And both
places have considerable less visitors then Glaciers Point. It´s best late in the afternoon and sunset, but make sure to
bring a flashlight if staying after sunset. The two trailheads are 13.2 miles west of the Glacier Point Road turnoff, at a
rather large parking lot on the left side of the road.
3.3 Inspiration Point
The famous Tunnel View offers a fabuluos view of Yosemite Valley. There´s always lot of tourists there. But an even better
view (no trees that obstructs the view) of the valley is seen from Inspiration Point. The trailhead is right at the Tunnel View
parking lot. It´s a 2.6 long round-trip trail that requires some precaution: When you reach the Inspiration Point you´re likely
to be somewhat disappointed as you havn´t seen any great view. But do not dispair: Walk back down on the trail (about
100 yards) and look carefully for a small trail to the right. After only 20 yards you´ll be rewarded with a grand view indeed!
3.2 Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is obviously the centerpiece of the national park. And it isn´t larger than you can see most of the valley in
just a day. It take longer if you take a few hikes though, which is highly recommended. Perhaps the best from the valley is the
Mist and John Muir Loop to Nevada Falls (a 6.8 mile round-trip). The trailhead is at Happy Isles. It´s best to park at the day-
use parking lot at Curry Village and to take free shuttle to Happy Isles.
Perhaps my favourite activity in the valley is to observe the mighty El Capitan rock from the valley floor after sunset, when the
climbers on the vertical rock lit their lights and shout to each other in the dark. To see the massive El Capitan from a close up
perspective, with a starlit sky around, and the lights from the climbers is pure magic!
El Capitan at night
Other close to mandatory activitites are to see the classic and beautiful Ahwanee Hotel and see the Sentinel Bridge over Merced
River. Apart from that, just go with the flow. An advise though, is to explore the valley very early in the morning and late
afternoons/evenings to excape the crowd, and have the best scenery and opportunities to see wildlife.
3.3 Upper Yosemite Falls
Almost all visitors only walk the trail at Lower Yosmite Falls. Nice indeed, but the upper fall is greater still. The whole trail is a
steep 7.2 mile round-trip hike, but you don´t have to take the whole: After only 1.2 miles you´ll be rewarded by the view from
Columbia Rock. And efter only 0.2 miles more (1.6 in total) you´ll see a fabulous view of the Upper Yosmite Falls! And if yo´re
still fit, you can continue to the top. A little secret is just before the 1.4 mile view of the Upper Falls: Maybe 200 yards from the
view, the trail turns right (when you walk down) and increases in elevation. Right there, there is a barely visible trail to the left.
Follow it only 15 yards and you´ll be able to see all three falls at the same time! A fascinating view! But it´s somewhat tricky to
take great pictures there as no wide-agle lens can cover all three falls, and it´s frighteningly steep there (ther´s an iron bar for
protection there though). The best time to shoot the falls is probably in fairy early afternoon (the falls are in shadow later).
Upper Yosemite Falls
A woodpecker in Yosemite
You hav´t really done Yosemite unless you´ve spent some time in Tuolumne, north in the park. The elevation is significantly
higher than the valley, and there are fewer visitors and more bears. Tuolumne has several first class hikes: The 7.4 mile
(round-trip) trail to Catherdral Lake is ane of the absolute best. As with all trails in Tuolumne, it starts with a steep
climp before you´re rewarded with grand views. The trailhead is half a mile west of the visitor center. Another great hike
is the 2.6 mile round-trip up to Lembert Dome. The trailhead has a large parking. Or you can hike the 4.0 mile round-trip
hike to Middle and Upper Gaylor Lakes, which has a great alpine landscape. The trail starts at 9 960 feet a hundred yards
west of the Tioga Pass entrance into the park.
Gaylor Lakes in May
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