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Guidebook Getaway: Popular Yosemite Trail Reopens After a 3.5-Year Closure

Fans of Yosemite Valley will be happy to know that the complete 5-mile loop trail to (and around) Mirror Lake at the Valley’s east end has reopened after being truncated on March 28, 2009 by rockfall.

Yosemite National Park officials officially reopened the trail on Thursday. Here are some details from the park’s news release:

“Yosemite trail crews have constructed a new trail on the edge of the talus slope near Tenaya Creek. Work consisted of removing trees and rock in order to create new trail alignment.

“Several blasting operations have occurred over the past several weeks in order to remove large pieces of granite from the trail corridor and create new material for retaining walls and trail construction. Trail crews will be present on the trail over the next several days to complete the work.”


A view of Yosemite's newly reopened Mirror Lake trail. (NPS photo)

This is fine news. If you’re unfamiliar with the trail (not far from the North Pines and Upper Pines campgrounds), our friends at Wilderness Press kindly provided us with 2 free trail descriptions for the trip.

One comes from the guidebook 50 Best Short Hikes: Yosemite by Elizabeth Wenk, available in REI’s California stores (but not at; sorry). The 3.4-mile loop trip she describes begins at Valley shuttle bus stop 18.

Her account makes fleeting reference to the now-repaired section (closed when she wrote her description) that permits a 5-mile loop hike. You'll see the full loop in the map that accompanies her description.

Get this free trail description.

We also offer the description found in Top Trails Yosemite: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone by the dean of Sierra guidebooks, Jeffery Schaffer. His description begins at the customary trailhead for Mirror Lake (shuttle bus stop 17) and discusses the short version of a Mirror Lake visit, a 2-mile loop.

As Schaffer points out, Mirror Lake often evaporates by this time of year. But with the extended loop now open to hikers, a longer excursion in the east end of the Valley is now available.

Get the free trail description. Or, get the complete book.

If you’re headed there this weekend (the weather forecast looks favorable, especially Saturday), print it out both descriptions and take them with you.

As the park’s news release mentions, in 2009 rocks fell approximately 1,800 feet to the floor of Yosemite Valley from Ahwiyah Point, knocking down hundreds of trees and burying hundreds of feet of the trail on the southern portion of the loop.

The impact of the rocks hitting the ground generated a 2.4-magnitude earthquake. The event caused no injuries and damaged no structures, but it shut down a portion of the trail for more than 3 years.

Rockfall, as Steve Bumgardner’s interpretive video from the top-flight Yosemite Nature Notes series points out, can occur any time in Yosemite. Check it out:

Posted on at 10:40 AM

Tagged: Fitness, Hiking, Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park and Yosemite Nature Notes

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