Since there is no trail head parking a very popular trail head entry is at shuttle stop 17. The first mile of this trail is a paved service road that leads directly to Mirror Lake. You may access the loop trail from the end of the paved path. The loop follows Tenaya Creek beyond the lake, and crosses two bridges after the Snow Creek Trail junction before returning past Mirror Lake on the south side of Tenaya Canyon. (There is no safe access to the north side of Mirror Lake directly from the south side of the loop, except via bridges at the west and east ends of the trail).
Mirror Lake is not really a lake but a pool formed when the winter snow melt has subsided and becomes a trickle in the summer. But for the purposes of calling it by its name I will use the word lake. In the winter and spring it can be very high and fast flowing river. It is fullest in spring and early summer, when Tenaya Creek flows freely with fresh snowmelt. The exit from the lake/pool drops off suddenly forming a series of cascades that run along side the path leading up to lake and makes for a wonderful approach.
TIP! I bike to Mirror Lake early in the morning as it can be reached by paved trail. If you get there before 8 am you will more or less have it to yourself.
Most years there is little water in the lake. A nice sandy beach appears and it is a great spot to picnic, wade, or swim. It is one of the most popular swiming pools in Yosemite during the summer. When the water is calm, the lake offers beautiful reflections of the surrounding cliffs and Half Dome.
Exhibits along the trail tell the story of Mirror Lake's lake-to-meadow succession, and also highlight some of the cultural history of the area. Mirror Lake is often referred to as Mirror Meadow in late summer due to the lack of water and the influx of grasses and sandy areas.
This trail is open year-round. In winter it can be icy and snowy, especially along the south side of Tenaya Creek. If you are lucky you may see a frosting in the Mirror Lake valley that covers everything, rocks, trees, plants with a delicate finary of feathered crystal ice. Like Frazzel ice at Yosemite Falls, it is one of the most unique, unpredictable, and lovely events you are likely to see in the park. The downside is it only occures when a cold sink makes the area very, very, cold, so bundle up.
Be aware of slick conditions along the south side of this loop trail during winter and early spring. With few natural barriers to hold onto or to brace yourself, it is fairly easy to slip and fall. This section of trail often remains covered in snow and ice, even when the north side of the loop is snow-free. When winter conditions exist, consider making an out and back trip along the north side of the loop.
Drinking water is not available at the trailhead or along the trail. Come prepared, and if you opt to extend your hike to travel the full Mirror Lake Loop or up the Snow Creek Trail, plan accordingly.
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.
Vault toilets are available about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) from the trailhead and also 1 mile (1.6 km) from the trailhead at the end of the paved service road at Mirror Lake. There are no additional restrooms along the trail.
Parking is not available at the trailhead. The nearest parking area is at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village), though you can easily access the trail by parking anywhere in eastern Yosemite Valley and taking the free shuttle (get off at shuttle stop #17) see the map above.
The Valley Visitor Shuttle (7 am to 10 pm year-round) serves the trail head at shuttle stop #17. You can also bicycle the first mile of the trail to the end of the paved service road. From there, you can either turn around or park your bike and begin your hike.
If you rent a bike in the valley you must park your bike at the bottom of the hill leading up to Mirror Lake.There is a bike corral there you can lean or lock it to. If you have your own bike, and like a little hill work it is a steep but relatively short hill. Just be careful coming down as the road leading up is often filled with visitors on foot, it pays to be respectful and safe.
Leashed pets, bicycles, and strollers are allowed on the first paved mile of the trail.
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.