Mirror Lake Trail
Mirror Lake is a pleasant hike located in Yosemite Valley, with good shade and suitable for all ages. The lake itself can be disappointing outside the high-water spring season, as the lake can run dry, but it is still a pleasant family-friendly walk.
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Route Description for Mirror Lake Trail
Mirror Lake is a wonderful trail if you want to explore more of Yosemite Valley. While we show the complete loop that goes past Mirror Lake and beyond along Tenaya Creek, many people do a shorter loop that goes just to Mirror Lake and back, in which case the route is only 3.2 km.
The trailhead for the Mirror Lake Hike is in the Yosemite Valley and is stop #17 for the Shuttle Bus. You can also walk to the trailhead, which is west of North Pines Campground and only a 10-minute walk from the Curry Village parking lot.
The Mirror Lake trail is paved, though a scenic trail that branches off on your right near the start–the Valley Loop Trail. We prefer the scenic Valley Loop Trail on the way out, as it is more atmospheric, and it is a wide trail that goes through the forest.
On the Valley Loop Trail, you’ll quickly reach a signed junction, where you’ll follow the sign pointing towards Mirror Lake, notifying you that the lake is only 1.6 km away. You’ll hike with Tenaya Creek on your left as you make your way towards Mirror Lake.
Don’t be surprised if Mirror Lake is dry, as Mirror Lake is most spectacular during the high-water spring season, and can be empty after a low-snow year. Look up and you can see Half Dome on your right. Assuming there is enough water, swimming is allowed in Mirror Lake, so don’t be surprised if you see people wading or swimming to cool off on warm days.
If you want to return after marvelling at Mirror Lake, then return the way you came. However, we suggest continuing out to follow the Yosemite Valley Loop trail.
Quite soon after leaving the lake, the trail will go through an area of rockfall, though it stays as a clear path. Soon, you’ll be back in the forest before eventually coming to a bridge that takes you over Tenaya Creek. Once you’re over the bridge, go left and head back to Mirror Lake along Tenaya Creek.
Follow the trail as it is signed for Mirror Lake, and when the path splits, go left down to a bridge that takes you on a path back to the North Shore of Mirror Lake.
The views from the North side of the Lake are more spectacular than the south side, and on calm days, the good water flow makes for exquisite views of the surrounding mountains.
After enjoying the scenery, continue back to the trailhead. This last section takes you along a paved road, which you’ll follow back to Shuttle Stop #17, where your hike began.
Mirror Lake is a popular lake accessed from Yosemite Valley. Fed by Tenaya Creek, Mirror Lake is best in spring, when it is filled with snowmelt, and can offer beautiful reflection of nearby mountains.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I swim in Mirror Lake?
Yes, many people swim in Mirror Lake, but be aware that water levels are best in spring.
Is the Mirror Lake Hike suitable for families?
Yes, this is a great family hike as there is minimal elevation change and the trail is clear and well-signed.
Insider Hints for Mirror Lake Trail
- Mirror Lake is dry, or has really low water levels much of the year. It’s best to visit in spring when it gets full from snowmelt.
- Take a towel and bathing suit and plan a dip in Mirror Lake.
- This is a nice route on a hot day, as it’s largely in the trees and has shade.
- Many people simply go out and back to Mirror Lake, which is roughly 3.2 km return.
Getting to the Mirror Lake Trail Trailhead
To get to the start of the Mirror Lake Hike, head to the Mirror Lake Trailhead (Shuttle Bus stop #17).
Mirror Lake Trail Elevation Graph
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Mirror Lake Trail Reviews
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