Take a dive deep into a real-life postcard
Anyone who’s driven the Glacier Point road can attest to the heart-stopping view visible from the overlook close to Glacier Point Trail head. With a jaw-dropping view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and the Yosemite high country, this is undoubtedly a bucket list destination. The only way to make this experience better is to take a dive deep into the real-life postcard, and luckily, Glacier Point provides a variety of easily accessible trails of various difficulty levels to take on this journey.
For those seeking the best view with the least amount of strain, the longest hike you’ll need to take is from the parking lot to the viewpoint, at a mere 300-yard distance. Conveniently placed on fully paved terrain that is also wheelchair-accessible, this is your best option if you’re short on time or bringing guests who may be unable to complete more conventional hikes. The sweeping view from Half Dome down to Yosemite Valley more than 3,000 feet below is an instant reminder of how small we are and how vast and beautiful our planet can be.
A longer but still mild route is the 1.6-mile (round-trip) McGurk Meadow Trail, which some believe holds evidence to uphold the theory that the Kingdom of Oz is a literary tale based on Yosemite. The trail is easily accessible off Glacier Point Road—just keep an eye out for the small brown directional sign on the side of the road. This low-traffic stroll leading to a wildflower-filled meadow offers the best views in the summer months when the sun helps bring out the greenest grass and greatest variety of wildflowers to enjoy.
Those looking to add a different version of breathtaking to their Glacier Point experience have a handful of trails of increasing difficulty to choose from. Perhaps the most easily accessible, but also one of the more crowded, is 4-Mile Trail, which connects Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point. Depending on your pace, this four-mile trail can take between two to four hours to complete. It’s not likely that the difficulty will slow you down, although the return leg on the way up can get a bit tough, but instead, it will be all the views that will undoubtedly make you stop and admire them—each one more beautiful. You’ll quickly understand why so many choose to take on this path.
No Longer a Vacation
There are some special souls that like to push their limits of joy so far that they teeter the line of pain, and Glacier Point also has a trail for those people—it’s called the Pohono Trail. This one-way 13-mile hike begins at a 4,400 feet elevation at the Tunnel View trail head and ends at a staggering 7,200 feet at Glacier Point (or vice versa, of course). Either way, this trail will spoil you with some of the best scenery Yosemite has to offer. While you might technically be able to finish this trail in a mere five hours, slowing down an hour or four would definitely be worth it in order to take in the bird’s-eye view of some of the most famous Points: Glacier, Taft, Dewey, Crocker, Stanford and Inspiration, along with Sentinel Dome and the Tunnel View.
Regardless of your level of ability, desire to sweat, or need for adrenaline, Yosemite has something to offer to meet everyone’s needs. Glacier Point just happens to step it up a notch by magically offering it all from one central location filled with monumental structures that will quickly put you in your place—your beautiful, mountainous, tree-filled, tranquil, blissful place, that is.