May 02, 2008
The glacier that carved Yosemite Valley must have had cruiser bikes in mind. Bring your own two-wheeler or rent a cruiser by the hour from Yosemite Lodge at the Falls or Curry Village, then hop on the 10-mile, car-free, paved trail that loops around the valley. From all compass points the views are high (Half Dome), mighty (El Capitan), and spectacular (waterfalls galore). With all this natural grandeur, staying focused on the trail can be tough! A side trip to Mirror Lake is prime in spring: this wide section of Tenaya Creek, literally in the shadow of Half Dome, fills only during the spring run-off and offers a crystal-clear mirror effect—especially in the morning. Back on the valley floor, keep wheeling to Lower Yosemite Falls, where there's an easy walk to the viewpoint.
TIP: Due to road construction, part of the valley's Northside Dr. is closed, so El Capitan Meadow is more quiet and serene than it's been in recent memory. With no cars and few tourists, this meadow makes a perfect picnic spot. Bring a blanket and binoculars—often you can spot rock climbers on El Capitan, the world's largest granite monolith.
For a map to the 10-mile Valley Loop Trail, click here. To get to El Capitan Meadow by bike, pedal a couple of miles on Northside Dr., even though it's closed to cars. Once you reach the "No Bikes" sign, dismount and walk .75 mile west to El Capitan Meadow. By car, park on Southside Dr. at a turnout in the road about 1 mile east of Bridalveil Falls. Walk north .25 mile on the closed road (heading toward Northside Dr.) to El Capitan Meadow.
For more ideas on a trip to Yosemite, check out Weekend Sherpa.
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