From the visitor center, walk west along the bicycle path toward Lower Yosemite Fall. At shuttle stop #6, cross the street and follow the bike path, bearing left as the path forks. At Sentinel Bridge parking area (shuttle stop #11), walk out onto the bridge to enjoy a classic view of Half Dome before returning to the parking area. Follow the boardwalk back across the meadow, cross the two streets, and turn right to return to the visitor center.
You can just as easily walk this loop in reverse; a self-guiding brochure is available in front of the visitor center describing the trail in a clockwise direction.
This trail is wheelchair accessible when not covered in snow or water as in the photo above. The meadow is prone to flooding during the spring run off.
Yosemite Falls View: You will see Yosemite Falls from various angles as you walk around the meadow. At some places you will see a view of both the upper and lower falls at the same time.
Sentinel Bridge: The bridge is famed for its view up the Merced River to Half Dome. It is a great sunset photo view and if the river is calm you will see the falls in the reflection on the water.
Yosemite Chapel: The Yosemite Valley Chapel is a place of active worship ,and a great place for weddings. For over 135 years it has been open to residents and visitors. It's an especially charming sight in late afternoons in the autumn. If you walk behind the chapel and turn to face Yosemite Falls you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the the chapel with the Falls in the background. A truly classic photo op.
The Swinging Bridge: The Swinging Bridge has glorious views upstream to Yosemite Falls. A must for photographers.
Yosemite Lodge: The lodge is a great place to stop get a drink at the bar or eat at the grill or Mountain Room Restaurant. There is also a small market, a pool open to all visitors in the park, a post office, and bike rentals.
Lower Yosemite Falls trail head: the view here is arguably as good as the view at the end of the Lower Yosemite Falls trail, and you'll walk right past it on this hike. The lower falls trail itself is short enough (half a mile round trip) that you might link up with this walk.
Cook's Meadow: This stretch of the meadow usually spends June covered with wildflowers, especially Cow Parsnip. At the spot marked on the map, there are also likely to be some large Western Azalea bushes.
Lower Yosemite Falls viewpoint: This isn't officially part of the hike, but it's worth the detour when the falls are high.
The Cook's Meadow Trail is open year-round and is a great spot to visit no matter when you come to Yosemite as you are always rewarded with a great view. In winter, the path may be snow-covered or icy. With enough snow it is a great meadow to cross country ski.
Boardwalks are slippery when wet and even more so when covered in snow or frost. You may also want to have mosquito repellent so you don't end up a buffet in the spring.
Water is not available along the trail. A drinking fountain is located at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, where you may choose to end or start your walk. Additionally, a water fountain is available near the Lower Yosemite Fall restrooms.
Restrooms are not available along this walk. Restrooms are available at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, near the parking for Sentinel Bridge, and at the swinging bridge parking lot. Additionally, restrooms are available at the Lower Yosemite Fall area.
The Sentinel Bridge parking lot, marked by the giant green hikers above, is the ideal spot from which to launch yourself onto this trail, but there are lots of other options if it's full. You can park along Southside Drive, the one-way road going east along the southern edge of the trail. There's also a parking lot at the Swinging Bridge. If you're a guest at the Yosemite Lodge, you can park there. You can also park along Northside Drive where it runs along the northern edge of the trail. It's a two-way road here, though it turns into a one-way westbound road farther west.
There's a chance that you won't find parking at any of these places, especially if it's a weekend. If that's the case, try the Yosemite Village day-use parking lot, which is a short walk from the trail. If that lot's full, head for Half Dome village, just over a mile away. From Half Dome Village, you can catch one of the free shuttle buses back to the trail area, or just make it part of your hike.
You can begin this walk at the the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, accessible by the Valley Visitor Shuttle (7 am to 10 pm year-round) at shuttle stop #5 and #9. From there, walk west along the bike path toward Lower Yosemite Fall. At shuttle stop #6, cross the street and follow the bike path. You can also begin this walk by taking the shuttle directly to stop #6. Additionally, the Cook's Meadow area is accessible from stop #11 at Sentinel Bridge.
Leashed pets, bicycles, and strollers are allowed on this trail, be aware of your surroundings.
Keep your food within arm's reach at all times and do not feed the wildlife
Carry out all trash and food waste (fruit peels, shells, etc.).
Proprietors: David Maynard & Vonnie Coombs
7509 Henness Circle, Yosemite CA, 95389
Yosemite Peregrine Lodging is located inside the gates of Yosemite National Park in the Yosemite West development. You have to enter Yosemite to get to Yosemite West. Don't let other hotel operators fool you. Ask for a physical address and check them out on a map before you make your reservation. Some accommodations claim to be minutes from Yosemite and are actually an hour or more.