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Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

Boston
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Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

My family (from the Boston area) - Mom, Dad and two teenage boys (ages 13 and 16) will be doing a trip up the CA coast in late June. During the trip we will be spending 2 nights (a Thursday & Friday) in Curry Village at Yosemite. Before Yosemite, we'll be spending one night in Mariposa. We leave Curry Village on Saturday morning heading for SF - so we'll have very limited time on Saturday morning in the park.

I've done a little research/reading about Yosemite, but am almost overwhelmed by the choices and haven't yet figured out what we should do for our 2 days there. Dad and older son are physically very fit and would likely be interested in some hiking on the more strenous side (moderate++); Mom and younger son would be neither willing or able to hike at the same level. Easy to moderate hiking better for us (I figure six miles roundtrip, assuming hilly terrain, would be our limit). Given the short time at Yosemite, and the altitude, all of us would want to avoid the most challenging and longest hikes.

As far as likes - we'd all love to see great views, one or two of the waterfalls, and Mom would like to see wildflowers (if in bloom then). Mom is a bit afraid of heights - specifically - don't like hiking that involves walking close to cliff edges, where a step in the wrong direction.... No problem with tops of most mountains (have done share of hikes in the White Mountains of NH); just don't like being close to straight drops. Also, the four of us don't need to be together the whole time, so a short but more challenging hike for the two more able would be fine also.

We're planning to see the Mariposa Grove - either on first day coming in, or when leaving the Park on Saturday to head to San Fransciso (ideas as to which would make more sense also welcome)!

Rocklin, California
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1. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

Check out PacifcNWFamily posts - they post on almost any Yosemite question (and several of them were posted today) and have some of the best ideas/experiences to pass on. BTW being able to do 6 miles is nothing to sneeze at!

Edited: 02 June 2012, 22:40
Ventura, California
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2. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

Hi, some of the options that we considered with our mixed group were:

1- In the Glacier Point area: Having the stronger or more inclined hikers hike up the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point from the valley while the others in the party drove up. When you met up there, you could all enjoy the same incredible views from the top in relative safety where there are bathrooms and concessions. From there you could all make your way back down in your vehicle and add in a little less strenuous hiking for the others at sentinel dome or any of the other hikes listed in the Glacier Point Road area of Yosemite. Visit www.yosemitehikes.com for great descriptions and info.

2- In Happy Isles area of Yosemite Valley: The whole group could hike to the Vernal Falls footbridge (or farther depending on how everyone feels). Then, stronger hikers could then continue all the way up to Vernal/Nevada Falls while the others can turn back and go to Happy Isles for some nice scenery along the river. The trail descriptions can also be found at www.yosemitehikes.com in the Yosemite Valley section.

By doing these two types of "mixed" approaches, everyone in your party will be together for good portions of each journey and you won't feel like you had separate vacations. You could also plan your picnics around when you met up or just before you break off from each other so that you can share a meal with the family. There are probably more opportunities in other areas of the park and many on here can probably help you with those options, but these were what we felt would be good for us.

I would also recommend exploring the valley by bike if at all possible. Rentals are available in the Curry Village area. It is a great time, and your kids will love it.

San Antonio, Texas
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3. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

You guys could do May Lake and Mount Hoffmann. Have everyone take the short hike to May Lake, and from there the dad and older son could hike to the top of Hoffmann and back.

yosemitehikes.com/tioga-road/…may-lake.htm

Washington State
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4. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

Visiting Mariposa Grove on the first or last day would be fine. If the first day, you'll save time & miles by driving on Hwy 49 to Oakhurst, then to the South Entrance. It's possible you'd be there early enough to snag one of the few parking spots. If not, drive 4 more miles to Wawona and take the shuttle to the MG parking lot. If you can hike 6 miles (definitely a good distance), go all the way to Wawona Point. But just visiting some of the Lower Grove is fine. nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/mg.htm Print the flyer/map to take with you as the kiosk for 50 cent flyers is usually empty.

If you want to visit Wawona & the Pioneer History Center, this is the day. nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/pyhc.pdf Lunch options in Wawona include the Wawona Hotel, hot dogs at the Golf Course snack bar, something from the General Store, or a picnic. (Oakhurst has two large grocery stores if you want to buy food on the way ~ highly recommend.)

Or maybe you want to spend more time on Glacier Point Road. Sentinel Dome is my favorite. I do not like drop offs, but it's solid footing underneath you as you ascend the dome. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-d532061 Whenever you visit this area (next day? another day?), be sure to stop at Washburn Point for a nice view as well as Glacier Point. Maybe the day you visit here as a family, the two distance hikers do the Panorama while the other two hike Sentinel Dome. Or the Sentinel hikers 'do' Taft Point, Pohono Trail, Sentinel as a loop trip. Just don't go out to the Taft Point fissures to peek over the edge. Photo tripadvisor.com/…18346519 Map linking the three into a loop: yosemitehikes.com/glacier-point-road/sentine… It's something between 4 & 4.5 miles (someday I'll try to measure it.)

A full day along Tioga Road would be terrific, but you don't have much time. I like SpursFan's idea. Another option is my new favorite, Gaylor Lake. It's not too long but at almost 9,000' elevation, a short hike is challenging. But it's a classic high mountain lake. yosemitehikes.com/tioga-road/gaylor-lakes/ga…

Lots of options in Yosemite Valley that aren't too challenging. You'll probably want to see Vernal Fall, perhaps just past the footbridge or maybe to the top.

If you're willing to spend half of your exit day on more tourism, you can head up Tioga Road this day, spend more time in the Valley, or go up to Glacier Point. Or maybe this is your day to visit Mariposa Grove and you can spend your entrance day on some Valley tourism & Glacier Point. Lots of ways to fit options into a reasonable itinerary.

mileages from Yosemite Valley Visitor Center (add 15 min drive time from Curry Village at a time with no traffic ~ Saturday during the day you may need to add 1-2 hours) nps.gov/yose/…mileages9-2007.pdf

lucysmom47 ~ thanks for your kind words!

San Diego, CA
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5. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

I would recommend your whole group hike to top of Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail (less than 3 miles round trip), then the stronger hikers continue on to Nevada Falls and come back via the John Muir Trail. Gorgeous vistas all along the way.

Texas
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6. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

Another suggestion - dad and older kid hike up four mile trail to Glacier Point, mom and younger kid catch the bus up. Rendezvous there. All hike back down the panorama trail via Nevada and Vernal falls - I think it's seven miles but it's almost all downhill, couldn't be easier and it's just spectacular.

San Antonio, Texas
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7. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

I don't consider the Panorama Trail especially easy, as the 3900 feet of descent (3200 net, plus losing 700 feet you gained in the middle of the hike) can be pretty rough on the knees. It's an incredible hike, but there is no convenient stopping point to split it up if one party doesn't want to do the entire thing. For instance, hiking down to the creek and then back up to Glacier Point isn't especially easy considering how sunny that first section of Panorama is. If you guys have good knees though and are up to it, you're not going to find anything better for matching the criteria you set. Three waterfalls and some great high views, but nothing where you feel like you're walking on the edge of a cliff or anything (except for one part next to Vernal Fall where there is a railing, and I believe some netting too).

Here's a shot I took on it which gives an idea about what the slope is like:

…photobucket.com/albums/…100_0803.jpg

And a couple of high shots

…photobucket.com/albums/…100_0802.jpg

…photobucket.com/albums/…100_0797.jpg

And a waterfall shot from the trail (this is also part of the Mist Trail):

…photobucket.com/albums/…100_0852.jpg

Boston
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8. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

Thanks to all for the helpful information. Our plan now is to see Mariposa Groves on our way in the first day; then head to Curry Village and via shuttle to Happy Isles to do the hike up Vernal Falls. On day 2 we'll drive (early) up to Glacier Point, and after see views there, head to Sentinel Dome for the hike up there. On the day we leave, we'll drive down Tioga Rd and do some hiking from there (allowing for longer hikes for those who want).

Fortaleza, CE
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9. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

No need to overplan. i'd look at the park's Web site at http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm and visit the visitors center in Yosemite Village when you arrive. You only have most of that day to tour, so don't worry about what hikes you'll do. Temps can be high in Yosemite Valley, so if you take a strenuous, exposed (exposed to the sun) hike like Yosemite Falls or all the way to Nevada Falls, I'd do it in the morning, or very late afternoon. To get a variety of scenery and not have a long day's drive back to SF, you could hit the Wawona Grove the first day, go to Yosemite Valley, see the visitor's center, just do short walks that afternoon, andplan a hike for the next day. Hopefully at some point you can drive to Glacier Point. My favorite part of the park is Tuolumne Meadows, but not sure you'll have time to see that unless you decide your own "big" hike is there (not a day's outing, but it takes time away from Yosemite Valley).

I am sure you know Camp Curry has canvas-sided tent cabins, with central toilets and showers, and that you must keep all food, and anythng else with a scent, in lockers in that central area, so as not to encourage bears to try to enter your tent, or car. My wife was scared she'd encounter a bear walking to the toilets at night. She did not (I think she was a little disappointed).

Edited: 07 June 2012, 20:29
San Antonio, Texas
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10. Re: Two Days in Yosemite - with 2 Teens

I think you'd be better off doing Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome late on day 1 and the Mist Trail early on day 2. That way you get the great late afternoon lighting on Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon from Glacier Point / Sentinel Dome instead of looking into the morning sun (your pics will be worlds better from there late in the day as opposed to early in the morning). Plus the turnoff to Glacier Point is on the way from Mariposa Grove.

The Mist Trail to Vernal Fall is also likely a significantly tougher hike than Sentinel Dome. I can't say for sure since I haven't done Sentinel Dome, but the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall has pretty steep stairs and twice as much elevation gain (have done that one). Plus Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point are all about wide open views where the lighting will play a more of a role.

Vernal Fall by contrast is mostly about seeing really amazing views of the river, big walls, and the waterfall, all reasonably close-up, so an early morning sun won't be any kind of hindrance to the views there. It will actually be a lot better in the morning for one of the best photos you can take looking down at the Merced River from the top of Vernal Fall. Here's the one I took from there in the afternoon showing the sun in the way: it would have been a great shot in the morning for sure.

…photobucket.com/albums/…100_0856.jpg

Just my 2 cents.