Explore a jewel of a lake located between North Dome and Half Dome. It is the final remnant of an ancient glacial lake that once covered Yosemite.
For a unique perspective of Half Dome, plus stunning views of Mount Watkins, Washington Column and Tenaya Canyon, visit Mirror Lake. Yosemite National Park’s seasonal lake provides a great hiking destination any time of year.
The trail begins at shuttle stop #17. Stroll along the paved path that leads directly to the lake. At 2 miles (3 kilometers) round-trip, this is a great option for visitors of all ages and fitness levels. Complete the whole hike in less than 1 hour.
For a more in-depth experience at Mirror Lake, continue beyond the paved path on a trail that loops around the lake. Follow the trail along Tenaya Creek to the Snow Creek Trail junction, cross two bridges and circle along Mirror Lake’s shoreline south of Tenaya Canyon. Give yourself about 2 to 3 hours to hike the complete 5-mile (8-kilometer) loop around the lake.
Despite its name, Mirror Lake does not have visible water for a good part of the year. The lake is most full in spring and early summer, when melting snow increases Tenaya Creek’s flow. Many refer to Mirror Lake as Mirror Meadow in late summer, because a lack of water turns much of the lake bed into a sandy and grassy area.
As you walk along the trail, check out the informative exhibits that explain how Mirror Lake developed geologically and delve into the area’s cultural history. Watch for wildlife such as coyotes and bobcats. When the lake does have water, enjoy shimmering reflections of Half Dome and other granite peaks on the surface.
You can traverse the first part of the trail by bike. When you approach the end of the paved section, either return to the trailhead or leave your bike in the rack here and continue the loop hike on foot.
Explore Mirror Lake year-round. The trail may have some ice and snow in winter, especially along Tenaya Creek’s southern bank.