Imagine if there was a bike-friendly paved trail that circled Yosemite Valley’s floor, hitting all the highlights … well, in fact, there is! Rent your wheels and grab a map from the Yosemite Valley Lodge or Half Dome Village and forget about the buses. Just be ready to stretch your neck because you’ll be doing a lot of looking up—at gorgeous waterfalls, iconic Half Dome, and beautiful stands of towering trees.
Roll up to Mirror Lake; it’s a short walk from the bike parking to this oasis that’s high and glossy and notable for its reflections of the surrounding granite mountains, including Half Dome.
Hang out on the banks for a bit before rolling onward to the beautiful Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly known as the Ahwahnee) for a wander through the lobby or a quick bite to eat at their casual bar. Continue riding to Yosemite Village. Along this path you’ll come to bike parking at the trailhead for Lower Yosemite Falls—well worth a wander. It’s an easy half-mile to the falls, and right now the flow is at a premium.
Back on your bike, keep rolling into one of the most sublime sections of the path (and particularly lovely around sunset): the wildflower-dotted meadow and a bridge crossing over the Merced River, with a most picture-worthy view of Upper Yosemite Falls plummeting in top form so powerful the plumes of water seem almost to splash onto your cheeks. Hey, that’s just the way you roll!
BONUS STAY: Just an hour from the entrance to Yosemite Valley, Mariposa makes a delightful and economically appealing place to stay. Friendly, lively, and artisan are good descriptors if you book a cabin, hotel, or B&B here. Food and drink options abound, from pizza and milkshakes to Cajun and farm-to-table, with a burgeoning brew pub scene for a good old-fashioned burger and IPA. Check out Mariposa County’s website for lodging info.
Yosemite bike rental information.