This post may contain affiliate links. Opinions shared are my own and I only endorse products I support. By clicking on any of the links below, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase at absolutely no additional charge to you.
Living just few hours from Yosemite National Park we have been able to visit numerous times. We absolutely love it any time of the year, it is one of most stunning National Parks in the country! the park offers plenty of family-friendly hikes to explore. Here are our top picks for amazing hikes the whole family can enjoy:
Besides sharing with you the favorite things to do in Yosemite with kids. Here are the hikes you would love to explore with spectaculars views. I have visit Yosemite per several days and also per weekends and you can find my 3 day Itinerary here.
With its stunning views and invigorating hikes, Yosemite is one of the most desirable destinations for any traveler. Whether you’re visiting for a few days or a weekend, there are plenty of exciting adventures to be had with your family. Check out our 3-day itinerary to get the most out of your stay. We’ve got the best sights and activities that Yosemite has to offer, from kid-friendly activities to breathtaking hikes sure to create lasting memories.
Hiking as a family is a great thing to do to bond, especially in a place struck by so much natural beauty. Use this guide to plan you next trip to Yosemite National Park. Take into consideration the time and distance each one takes and plan your day around it.
Yosemite National Park Hikes for families
Let’s talk about the Yosemite Hikes for Families in the most popular and visited areas in Yosemite
1. Bridalveil Falls trail – an Easy family Friendly Hike in Yosemite National Park
- Distance: Approximately 0.5 miles round trip.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: Close-up views of Bridalveil Fall and surrounding granite cliffs.
Distance 1.2 miles round trip
By Arch Rock entrance and Big Oak Flat road
620 foot waterfall
This is a perfect hike to do with your kids. It is definitely one of the easiest Yosemite hikes for families. Bridalveil fall is located in the valley and the path has been closed for restoration for a while. However, you can easily park on the side of the road and see the waterfall. The cascade is strong in the spring and by autumn it thin out. The path is a boardwalk, with interpretive signs, wheelchair accessible and view areas. Beware, you can get wet with the mist especially during spring and when waterfalls are at their fullest. Dogs are not allowed on the trail. It is unfortunate, but many people bring their dogs anyway.
The cascade run year round. You can also see the waterfall from Tunnel View, about a mile west on Highway 41 from the Bridalveil Fall parking lot. The parking is located at the beginning of the Wawoma road or from Southside Drive east of the junction with Wawoma road.
2. Cook’s Meadow Loop-Easy Yosemite Trails
Cook’s Meadow Loop:
- Distance: Approximately 1 mile loop.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: Scenic views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, wildflower meadows.
Distance 2.25 miles round trip
This is one of the most beautiful meadows I’ve ever seen. I recommend you bring your bike and bike together as a family, it is so much fun. Or, you can just park on the side of the road. The path is pretty flat and goes along the meadows and crosses the Merced River where you get a gorgeous view of Yosemite Falls. also goes to swinging bridge where you get a view of Half Dome and El Capitán.
We love walking along the boardwalk on this hike…or maybe you’d call it a stroll! On this walk you are so close to the swimming bridge so I recommend that you bring swimming suits in summertime so you can refresh yourself in the crystal-clear Merced River.
3. Mirror Lake -Easy-Moderate Yosemite Trails for Kids
- Distance: Approximately 2 miles round trip.
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
- Highlights: Reflections of Half Dome in the tranquil Mirror Lake, especially in the spring.
Distance 2 mi / 3.2 km (lake & back) – easy
5 mi / 8 km (entire loop) – moderate
This is an easy trail in the sense that it is pretty flat. However, it is a bit long with not much of a view. The trail is fun to do in bikes, but bikes are not allowed inside the area that is not paved, but many people leave the bikes at the entrance without incident. If you want to do the whole loop around Morrow Lake it will take you a few more miles and it is more of a moderate effort.
Mirror Lake has a spectacular view of Tanaya canyon and the unique Half Dome.
This trail is open all year round but the lake is at its fullest in spring through early summer. During the fall it’s still beautiful. Dogs are not allowed.
4. Valley Loop Trail – a Moderate hike for family in Yosemite
Valley Floor Loop Trail:
- Distance: Approximately 11 miles loop.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: A longer option exploring the Yosemite Valley floor with various viewpoints and meadows.
Distance: 6.5 mi (half loop)
13 mi (full loop)
This is a partially level trail. It crosses Cook’s Meadow and could take about 2-3 hours to finish. It passes through roads and meadows with great views of granite cliff as well as Merced River. On this hike you can enjoy solitude but make sure you bring a map!
It’s an unpaved trail and has adults-sized stair steps going up in some parts. It’s a long hike and every section can be different from each other.
5. Yosemite Falls trail – Easy to Moderate Hikes in Yosemite for Families
Lower Yosemite Fall Trail:
- Distance: Approximately 1 mile round trip.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: Views of Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America.
Distance 2.0 mi (round trip) – easy
7.2 mi (round trip) – moderate
The first part of this trail is considered easy and it is quite lovely. We could even keep our dog on the paved road. We hiked the paved part and reached Lower Yosemite Fall. When we went, the waterfall was not the fullest and swimming is not permitted. When the waterfall is full, rocks can be slippery so be careful with the kiddos playing on the rocks. My kids really love exploring among the rocks but we stayed on the trail most of the time. The hike can be crowded but we didn’t find the many people when we went last time. However is a must do Yosemite Hikes for Families!
6. Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall trails – Moderate hike for families
Distance 2.0 mi round trip
7.2 mi round trip
We did part of this hike with my 9 year old but we did the complete hike with my 11 year old. Just take your time and bring plenty of water and proper gear like good shoes for hikes. The beginning of the hike to Vernal fall is level but quickly starts getting steep. The distance to Vernal Falls is not that bad. The altitude gain of this path is from 120m to 600m. I recommend that you bring walking sticks and water, at least 2 bottle per person is recommended.
During spring and summer it can be crowded, narrow and slippery. We did it with our 9 year old and 12 year old. It’s definitely an effort, so take your time and don’t forget those hiking sticks!
To reach Nevada Fall, you need to keep going through a path with a fence and uphill. You’ll pass a beautiful body of water at top of Vernal fall and then go over a bridge to keep going on the trail of Nevada Fall.
Our 9 year old stop at this point and I kept going with my 11 year old. The way up is beautiful in the fall, the colors around are just dreamy! The waterfall it is at is fullest in winter and spring. We visited Nevada Falls in the autumn.
Check this Yosemite 3 days camping adventure tour here
7. Glacier Point area -Easy Hike for families and Teens
Glacier Point Loop (Easy)
Distance 1 mile/1.6 km round trip
Glacier Point is one of the most iconic views in Yosemite. You will need to drive there and then do the loop which is y and partially stroll and wheelchair accessible. There you can observe the panoramic vista of Half Dome, cloud Rest, Mist trail and Yosemite Valley all together.
This is an easy hike at 7,200 feet. It is almost not a hike, more like a walk around a loop, but totally worth it for the views. We almost skipped the geological exhibit, but you should stop to check it out. Our kids love learning about the formation of granite. It is located at Glacier Point Road. From Yosemite Valley, follow Highway 41 up for 9 miles. You will find a well-developed parking lot and bathrooms. Follow the trail that leads you to the loop and different views of the valley. Parking can get full during high season…be patient, it’s worth it!
8. Sentinel Dome and Taft Point (moderate)
Distance 2.2 miles round-trip
Both Sentinel Dome and Taft Point trailheads are accessible by car, making it convenient for families with children.
This is a hike that is easy at first, when you walk through seasonal wild flowers. Later, you are going to need to watch your step around The Fissures and at Taft Point. The views are magnificent!
It’s an easy route but can easily take 1 to 2 hours to complete so is moderate not for little kids but for older kids or kids that are use to hike. It’s open all year round, and remember dogs are not allowed.
The total distance for the loop (including both Sentinel Dome and Taft Point) is approximately 5 miles, which may be manageable for older children. The trail is considered moderate, but the relatively short distance makes it suitable for a family hike.
Hiking to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point can be a rewarding experience for families, providing breathtaking views of Yosemite National Park. Here are some considerations and tips to make the Sentinel Dome and Taft Point hike family-friendly:
9. Wawona Area Hikes for families
The Wawona area has so many activities for visitors – hiking, swimming, camping, exploring, golf (scheduled to reopen in May 2022), a riding stable, and the crown jewels of Wawona: The Wawona Hotel and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees.
Wawona Meadow Loop (easy)
Distance 3.5 miles (5.6 km) loop
We discovered this area by a simple twist of fate when we took a dog to Yosemite for the first time. We discovered that dogs are only allowed on paved trails or fire roads, and this is one of the longest such trails in the whole park.
It is located right across from the Wawona hotel and golf course. It is an unpaved fire road surrounded by meadows with many wildflowers. This is one of the largest meadows in the park and the view is lovely. The road is very flat and should be easy for just about anyone.
Interestingly, Wawona – an Indian word believed to mean “big tree” – wasn’t added to Yosemite National Park until 1932. Galen Clark settled present day Wawona in 1857, establishing Clark’s Station, a trading post and way station for visitors continuing their journey into the park.
Clark built a simple rustic cabin, serving as hotel keeper, guide and was known as the guardian of Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove. In 1874 Clark sold the property to the Washburn brothers who then built the Wawona Hotel at its present location, adding to it later. The meadow next to the golf course served as a rough airstrip from 1925 to 1941 where supplies were flown in daily.
It is just a gorgeous, peaceful area but don’t expect to see or find any of the stunning views and formations that Yosemite is renown for.
Check this tour From San Francisco: Yosemite Lodge 2-Day National Park Here
10. Mariposa Grove – A Family Friendly Hike
There are several Hikes for Families in Yosemite in the Mariposa Grove area.
Lower Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia(easy)
Distance 2.2 miles round trip
This hike is located an hour from the valley floor. It’s an easy hike but if you want to do it, you need to keep in mind the time it will take. Here you find the beautiful Grizzly Giant, the oldest Sequoia redwood tree known to man at 2,700 years, which is also one of the world’s largest living things.
The trees are awe-inspiring but recent storms have damage several trees. You can park at the main parking lot and walk two miles to the arrival area, or take the shuttle to get to the grove. Only cars with disability permit can par next to the grove.
At arrival area you’ll find bathrooms and water. Then, you can do the two mile loop. However if you want to see the Grizzly Giant that is part of the lower grove, you will need to walks 0.75 mile from the arrival area. Also, the trail is not flat and has lots of inclines – there are lots of up and downs. So, round trip, this walk is either around 5 1/2 miles (Grizzly Giant) or 11 miles. Pretty long! I don’t suggest to do it with littles unless you are prepared for an extended expedition.
Carry lots of water!
11. Big Trees Loop Trail – Easy Hikes in Yosemite Valley
Distance 0.3 mile (wheelchair accessible)
This short and beautiful hike/walk begins at the Mariposa Grove arrival area. What you’ll find is a forest with many giant sequoias, which are just spectacular! The beginning of the trail features the Fallen Monarch and interpretive panels on the life and ecology of giant sequoias. It’s a super easy and flat loop and is wheelchair accessible.
12. Lukens Lake from Tioga Road – Hikes in Yosemite for Families
Distance 1.6 mi round-trip
This trail starts at Luke trailhead on Tioga road, and has an elevation gain of 200 ft. For some, this is more of a stroll than a hike but I guess that depends on opinions from people that hike on their own and not with little ones 🤣 It can be done in just 1-2 hours. It goes around a forest, them a small mountain lake surrounded by a meadow. You’ll find many wildflowers through July. The trail is wet and muddy until early August.
13. Crane Flat Area trail – Hikes for families
- Trailhead: The trailhead is near the Crane Flat Campground.
- Distance: The Crane Flat Fire Lookout trail is a short hike, approximately 1 mile round trip.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: The trail leads to a historic fire lookout with panoramic views of the surrounding forested landscape.
Two of Yosemite’s three groves of giant sequoias are located in the Crane Flat area. The trail heads are accessible year-round, although trails may be snow-covered winter. Both short hikes lead downhill into sheltered areas with flowing water, dogwood, azaleas, and ancient sequoia trees.
14. Tuolumne Grove & Nature Trail – Moderate hikes for Families
- railhead: The trailhead is located near Crane Flat and is accessible via Tioga Road.
- Distance: The round-trip distance to the Tuolumne Grove is approximately 2.5 miles.
- Difficulty: Moderate. The hike involves a descent on the way to the grove, which means the return trip includes an uphill climb.
This is a great option to see the Sequoias, because it’s closer to the Valley and less crowded. It begins at the Tuolumne grove parking lot on Tioga Road. It’s a nice hike down into the grove. However, it is a much harder hike back up to the trailhead.
The Tuolumne Grove is home to numerous giant sequoias, including some impressive specimens. The most notable tree in this grove is the Dead Giant. The trail includes an interpretive nature trail that provides information about the ecology of the sequoia grove and the surrounding forest.
Begin your hike at the trailhead near Crane Flat and Descend to the Grove a mixed-conifer forest, and you’ll notice a change in vegetation as you approach the grove.
Spend time exploring the grove and marveling at the giant sequoias. The Dead Giant is often a highlight due to its size and unique features. And The return hike involves an uphill climb as you ascend back to the trailhead.
The Tuolumne Grove trail is typically accessible from late spring to early fall, depending on snowpack conditions. Be prepared for variable weather conditions. Even in the summer, temperatures can be cooler at the higher elevations.
Parking is available at the trailhead, but it can fill up quickly, especially during peak visiting times. Consider arriving early to secure a parking spot.
15. Tuolumne Meadows area Hikes for families
Tuolumne River Trail:
- Distance: Varies; you can customize the length.
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
- Highlights: Follow the Tuolumne River through meadows and forests, offering a serene and less crowded experience.
The meadow runs along the Tuolumne Meadow River. Before heading out, you should know that it takes an hour and a half to get there from the Valley, but again, totally worth it. It’s a peaceful place and you can just wander and chill around the trails and soak in the sun and appreciate the wildflower and granite peak views that surround the meadows. It is a flat hike and you could think of it more like the starting point for the harder hikes.
The meadows are covered in snow during winter time and only open from May to September. It has an elevation of 8,500 feet. You can enjoy the wildflowers and the river and the granite peaks surrounding the meadow. It’s yet another a great place for picnics and just soak up the beauty of Yosemite!
16. Tuolumne Meadows: Soda Springs and Parsons Lodge – Easy Trails Yosemite
Distance 1.5 miles round-trip
Soda Springs Trail:
- Distance: Approximately 1.5 miles round trip.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: The trail leads to Soda Springs, a natural spring with bubbling carbonated water. The area is known for its unique geological features.
Parsons Lodge Trail:
- Distance: Short walk from Soda Springs.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: Visit Parsons Lodge, a historic stone structure built in 1915, which serves as a gathering place for Yosemite’s High Sierra Camp staff and visitors.
- Distance: Approximately 2 miles if you combine Soda Springs and Parsons Lodge.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: Enjoy the bubbling Soda Springs, explore the Parsons Lodge, and take in the scenic beauty of Tuolumne Meadows.
This is located above the Tuolumne River’s north bank. You begin the hike at the Lembert Dome parking area where the shuttle #4 stops. It’s an easy hike that takes about an hour to finish.
The trail leads you to a carbonated waters known as Soda Spring – a mysterious cold-water, carbonated springs. It is protected within a log enclosure. Also, you’ll find Parsons Memorial Lodge, one of the first stone structures to be built in a national park. If you continue the path to the bridge it leads you to the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center.
17. Tenaya Lake Trail – Moderate Hikes in Yosemite Valley
Tenaya Lake Loop:
- Distance: Approximately 2.5 miles around the lake.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: The loop trail offers picturesque views of Tenaya Lake, surrounding granite peaks, and the peaceful alpine environment.
This is such a beautiful trail just 2.5 miles long round trip with a minimal elevation gain of only 190 feet. It’s a beautiful area and considered easy to access all year round. It takes an average of 90 minutes to complete, and dogs aren’t allowed on this trail. This area is surrounded by beautiful granite views all around. Just a great area to relax and enjoy the non busy high country of Yosemite.
The best time to visit is May to October. In the summer months, swimming gear is a must bring to enjoy a beach day here.
18. Olmsted Point Nature – An easy Trail in Yosemite National Park
Olmsted Point Nature Trail:
- Distance: The Olmsted Point Nature Trail is a short loop trail near the viewpoint.0.4 mile round trip
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Highlights: Interpretive signs along the trail provide information about the natural history, geology, and ecology of the area.
- Elevation Change: 55 feet
This 0.40 miles, out and back trail is considered one of the easiest yet most stunning Yosemite hikes for families. It doesn’t take much time to do it and the view is wonderful: Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Yosemite Valley. Easy to walk/hike for an impressive and unique view. The trail is open year round!
It has Seasonal Access since Tioga Road and Olmsted Point are typically accessible from late spring to early fall, depending on weather conditions and road closures.
Olmsted Point is easily accessible by car along Tioga Road. There’s a parking area, and the viewpoint is a short walk from the parking lot. Olmsted Point is a popular stop along Tioga Road, so it can get crowded, especially during peak visiting times. Consider visiting early in the day for a quieter experience.
What to Bring to hike in Yosemite National Park:
Here are few basic things you will need:
Swimming suit is you come in the summer time
Clothing and Footwear: Dress in Layers even during summer nights can be so chilly and wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for uneven terrain. Be prepared for changing weather conditions.
Your Bikes! I love riding bikes in the Valley
Backpacks our favorite are Gregory backpacks we used them for two of our trips here and hikes
Photography Fun: Bring a camera or smartphone and encourage kids to capture their favorite moments. The incredible views provide ample opportunities for family photos.
Tips for Hiking in Yosemite National Park
- Summer can be very crowded but reservation system is helping this
- Spring usually has gorgeous waterfalls.
- Make your reservations for accommodations as early as possible, it’s usually pretty full!
- Whenever you hike, always bring plenty of water with you!
- If you bring a dog, make sure you know what trails the dog is allowed to go on
Start Early: Begin your hike early in the day to avoid the midday heat in the summer and to have sufficient time to enjoy the views without feeling rushed.
Pack Snacks and Water: Bring a backpack with snacks, water, and perhaps a picnic lunch. Having a snack break at one of the viewpoints can be a great way to enjoy the scenery and rest.
Educational Experience: Turn the hike into an educational experience for children by discussing the park’s flora, fauna, and geology. The trail provides an opportunity to learn about the natural environment.
Wildlife Awareness: Teach children about wildlife safety and the importance of observing animals from a distance. Yosemite is home to various wildlife, and encountering animals can be an exciting part of the experience.
Use Trail Etiquette:Practice good trail etiquette by staying on designated paths, respecting nature, and leaving no trace. Encourage children to appreciate and care for the environment.
Take Breaks:Allow for breaks along the trail, especially if hiking with younger children. Enjoy the surroundings, and let the family set its own pace.
Check Park Regulations: Check for any specific regulations or advisories related to family hiking on the official Yosemite National Park website before your visit.
Safety First: Prioritize safety. Keep an eye on children, especially near cliffs or elevated areas. Follow all posted safety guidelines.
Baby Carriers: For families with infants, consider using a baby carrier instead of a stroller, as the trail may not be suitable for strollers.
Visitor Center Resources: Stop by the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center for additional information, maps, and any updated trail conditions.
Junior Ranger Program: if available, participate in the Yosemite National Park Junior Ranger Program. It offers educational activities for children and helps them learn about the park’s natural and cultural resources.
I hope all this information is useful for you and if you have any question don’t hesitate about ask or share any other trails you know and love!
Check the full list of things to do in Yosemite here.
And that’s it! Pick and choose your favorite area and go from there.
Try to make reservations early for spring and especially summer season if you want to stay in the valley area. There are numerous lodges and campsites, check here for more accommodation ideas.
I love the fall season because it’s less crowed but of course the waterfalls are not quite as spectacular then. If it’s your first visit first, try either May (usually has gorgeous waterfalls) and September because it’s less packed.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below and never miss the latest trips and favorite product and exclusive offer.