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Yosemite National Park ~ Valley Loop Trail

Yosemite National Park, California, Yosemite National Park, California

Admin: Damara Ann

At an elevation of around 4,000 feet, Yosemite Valley can be quite hot and busy during the peak summer season. I prefer to ride the valley during the spring or fall. This year many of the trails were under water during the spring so we did not go. My favorite time to visit the Valley on horseback is during the fall. Temperatures are much cooler and the crowds are much thinner. Last year I did an autumn ride during the first week of November. The downside to riding in the fall is that the waterfalls are running at a trickle. The Trail: My favorite ride is approximately 25 miles long and known as the Valley Loop with Pohono Bridge on the western side and Snow Creek Bridge on the eastern side. This ride is non-strenous and showcases virtually every recognizable landmark within the Valley. There are many was to shorten this loop for those who do not wish to ride this far. This trail passes by all of the major Yosemite Valley Landmarks: Half dome, Mirror Lake, Yosemite Falls, Three Brothers, El Capitan, Merced River, etc. etc. "Valley Floor Loop Trail" is an old bridle path that hasn't seen much traffic since the 1950s. Still, the trail is signed and very much intact. It follows many of the Valley's first east-west trails and wagon roads. Some of the trail passes near roads, much of it passes through meadows, talus slopes at the base of the granite cliffs, and along Merced River. Staging for the ride can be a challenge. Arrive early and during the week to minimize crowds. You can start anywhere along Northside or Southside drive to pick up the trail. You can access the trail from many places throughout the Valley. Route-finding can be difficult in places, so it is best to bring a map with you. I prefer to find a good pullout along Northside Drive between El Capitan and Camp 4. I start on this side and pass through Yosemite Falls and the Village before the huge crowds arrive later in the day. ***Note: There are many section of trail throughout the Yosemite Valley as well as Bridalveil with old asphalt. President Roosevelt paved many National Park trails in an attempt to create jobs during the war. ***equestrians are not allowed on the paved bicycle path, tram roads or shuttle bus routes, Mist Trail between Happy Isles and Nevada Fall, Snow Creek Trail, Mirror Lake Road, Upper Yosemite Falls. There is no equestrian camping within the valley at any time of the year. Campgrounds within the Park have extremely limited availability. Wawona has two horse sites and Bridalveil has three. These campgrounds typically close by the end of September. I typically boondock outside of the park and trailer in for the day.

TRAIL HEAD

Staging for the ride can be a challenge. Arrive early and during the week to minimize crowds. You can start anywhere along Northside or Southside drive to pick up the trail. You can access the trai

TYPE OF DESTINATION

Day Ride - Trails Only / No CampingEffort level - Easy, Driving Trails|Other

AMENITIES FOR 2 LEGGED -

-- Porta-potty's / Pit Toilets

-- No Water / Bring your own water

-- Restaurants / Café Nearby

MILES OF DESTINATION / ACREAGE OF PUBLIC LANDS / # OF DAYS’ WORTH OF RIDING

Valley Loop Trail extends from Pohono Bridge on the West to Snow Creek on the East and is about 24 miles long. Several variations available to shorten the ride (see gpx photo)

TYPE OF LAND

- National Land

ACCESS TO TRAILS

- Trails right from location

Type of Footing on the trails

- Dirt

- Meadow, Grass

- Gravel, Rock

Type of Terrain

- Flat

TYPE OF HORSE I WAS RIDING

- Non-Gaited

LOCAL WILDLIFE

Coyote, squirrel, bear, deer.

PEAK RIDING SEASON / WEATHER

Spring or Fall

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