BlogJune 2024

Family Hiking in Yosemite

Family Hiking in Yosemite

By Jeff Bogle

Jun 07, 2024

Hiking in Yosemite is a bucket list travel dream that can come true even with kids in tow thanks to these 7 Yosemite trails for families.

For many people hiking in Yosemite is a bucket list travel dream. Thankfully, even with kids in tow, this dream can easily come true thanks to plenty of Yosemite trails for families. That’s right, there are a lot of Yosemite family-friendly trails for everyone to enjoy in this amazing national park, including easy hikes Yosemite for kids with stroller access. Before you venture west to Yosemite to experience the many health benefits of hiking, it’s important to know how to keep your family safe while hiking in Yosemite. In this blog post, you will learn what to pack for a family hike in Yosemite in summer as well as what to pack for a family hike in Yosemite in fall, what to wear hiking with kids in Yosemite, and crucially, a few bear safety tips for hiking with children Yosemite. The Yosemite wilderness is a wild and wonderful place to explore vast meadows, breathtaking waterfalls, and sweeping vistas. While spring and fall are the best times to go hiking with kids in Yosemite, avoiding the heat of hiking in summer and the snow and chill of winter, this is truly a year-round destination for hiking with kids. Here are the best family friendly hikes Yosemite National Park.


Lower Yosemite Falls Trail


This is an easy 1-mile trail you simply cannot miss! It’s the best of all the Yosemite trails for families because it has only 50 feet of elevation gain in total and because all-ages of hikers will be rewarded with stunning views of the final drop of North America’s tallest waterfall, Lower Yosemite Falls. All the Yosemite family friendly trails are good for first time visitors, but this one is rated number one for hikers making their Yosemite debut in large part because it can be hiked as a loop trail or as a simple, easy out and back.


Glacier Point Trail


The views at Glacier Point capture the essence and beauty of Yosemite, and getting there with kids couldn’t be easier. Proving that the best time to go hiking with kids in Yosemite starts when they are in a stroller, this .6-mile Glacier Point Trail is one of the easy hikes Yosemite for kids with stroller access on a paved, short, and easy path. Once you reach the viewpoint, be ready for the breathtaking panoramic views of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley, Clouds Rest, Half Dome, as well as Vernal and Nevada Falls.


Cooks Meadow Trail


Hiking in Yosemite Valley is perfect for families because there are so many easy, short hiking trails, including this easy one in Cooks Meadow. A one-mile loop provides memorable views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Sentinel Rock.


Mirror Lake Trail


Still in the Valley, consider taking this easy 2-mile out-and-back Yosemite family friendly trail that will take you and your kids directly to the base of Half Dome. Enjoy stellar views of Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, Washington Column, and more on one of the easiest hiking trails in Yosemite National Park.


Vernal Falls Footbridge


The Yosemite Valley continues to give wondrous views to families of all ages on this moderate 1.6-mile round trip trail to the Vernal Falls Footbridge for photographic vistas of Vernal Falls. Little legs might not like that the first mile of this short trail is almost entirely uphill, but views along the way mean you can stop and soak in the splendor of this magical national park.


Big Trees Loop Trail


Easy hikes Yosemite for kids with stroller access don’t get simpler than this .3-mile flat stroll through an impressive forest of giant sequoias. Great for little kids and babies in strollers as well as family members in wheelchairs, the Big Trees Loop lets everyone bask in the immense power and beauty of nature in Yosemite.


Columbia Rock Trail


Finally, do not miss the chance to hike along one of Yosemite's oldest historic trails. Built between 1873 and 1877, this 2-mile moderate hike is still one of the family-friendly Yosemite hiking trails thanks to many switchbacks making elevation gain more manageable for all-ages. The Columbia Rock Trail starts at the Yosemite Falls Trailhead and climbs over 1,000 feet with dozens of switchbacks. Once you reach Columbia Rock, the payoff is awe-inspiring views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock.


What to Pack for a Family Hike in Yosemite in Summer


Packing for a day spent trekking on Yosemite family friendly trails is a breeze, whether you are visiting in the summer or need to know what to pack for a family hike in Yosemite in fall. When it comes to what to wear hiking with kids in Yosemite, layers are key. In Summer and Fall, you and your kids should be prepared for temperature shifts while on any trail in Yosemite, but especially when hiking at higher elevations. Even in the peak of summer, when the temperatures can reach the high 80s, you get wet from an afternoon thunderstorm and experience drastic temperature drops during the day. Pack breathable layers like a waterproof lightweight jacket, a mid-layer long-sleeve shirt that will keep the sun’s harmful rays away, and a base layer such as a tank top or t-shirt for when it gets hot. Choose sports fabric over cotton and if you can, avoid heavy denim that doesn’t breathe well. Wear a hat and sunglasses and lather up with sunscreen even on cloudy days in the park. Footwear matters a lot, too. Wear comfortable, waterproof shoes and breathable socks to avoid blisters, because while you might be able to tough it out, a blister on a kid’s toe will likely cut your family hiking adven-ture short.


Finally, when it comes to what to pack for a family hike in Yosemite to stay hydrated and happy, you should each have full water bottles and plenty of snacks to rest, recharge, and refuel while hiking in Yosemite.


What to Do if You Encounter a Bear While Hiking Yosemite with Kids Chances are, you will not run into a bear on Yosemite family friendly trails, as Park officials estimate that only 300 to 500 black bears currently reside in Yosemite National Park, but it is essential to know some bear safety tips for hiking with children in Yosemite. First and foremost, remain calm and remember that the bear is probably more scared of you than you are of them. If you and your kids do see a bear, attempt to leave the area or take a detour. If you are unable to do so, wait until the bear moves and always leave the bear a clear route to keep traveling away from you. Be cautious if you see a female with cubs by never placing yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them.


Looking for more National Park fun this year? Check out the 5 best parks to visit in Fall and the best National Parks for fishing.


Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle
Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, and on Instagram @OWTK. Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion