The entire Valley Loop Trail runs, quite obviously, around the entire Yosemite Valley. It’s an easy hike, one packed with views of the valley and surrounding walls of granite. You’ll find it’s easy to get distracted along this route, whether it’s gawking at the (barely flowing in November) Yosemite falls, or sipping on a few irish coffee’s at the Mountain Room Lounge.
DISTANCE: 13.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: +1,138 feet
TIME: 5 hours 57 minutes
I started the [half] loop near Upper Pines campground, heading counter-clockwise. Some of the sights to see are the almost completely dry Merced River, the completely dry Mirror Lake, and the abundance of horse droppings along the trail. Seriously, there was a lot of it. Other than that, the trail was easy and well-maintained, with gradual inclines and carved rock stairs.
After you reach the eastern-most point of the trail, near the start of the Snow Creek trail (I’ll get to that one soon enough!), you’ll begin heading back along the north end of the valley. Here you’ll get some great shots of the quintessential Yosemite Valley.
I managed to swing by Yosemite Falls before turning back, but they were scarce at best. I supposed I’ve been spoiled by only coming to Yosemite during the spring months. The hike doesn’t take nearly as long as I’ve logged it to be, but I was distracted by the allure of a lounge and a few warm drinks before heading back.