Cook’s Meadow Loop in Yosemite National Park

The meadow is beautiful!

Cook’s Meadow Loop is a really nice nature walk that you can hike it in just a few minutes in Yosemite National Park. This short trail runs from shuttle stop #6, which is where you get off for Lower Yosemite Falls, to shuttle stop #11, which is at the Visitor’s Center. The distance is only a few blocks, but there is plenty to see.


After hiking to Lower Falls, we decided to skip waiting for the shuttle and take the short walk across Cook’s Meadow. We actually did this twice, once in each direction, and on the two trips we were well-rewarded. The most exciting thing we saw was a bobcat carrying a squirrel in its mouth. This was just across the street from stop #6 as we were sitting on the fallen log that runs perpendicular to the road. We couldn’t believe a bobcat would be that close to such a high traffic area. We also saw a doe with her two tiny fawns in this same area. In fact, the bobcat ran within twenty yards of her. Those were our most exciting finds, but if you go slowly and look closer, there’s plenty more.

The trail begins on a paved biking trail.
The bobcat ran across the trail in front of us and this is the best picture I got.
The deer were watching the bobcat, but he had a bird in his mouth, so they didn’t have to worry.

As we walked along, we kept hearing a loud keening cry, which was obviously some kind of raptor. We scanned the trees to the right side of the trail (as you leave stop #6) and finally spotted a red-shouldered hawk. We don’t get those in Utah, so we were really excited. There are milkweeds growing in the meadow, and we saw some exciting insects, too. We watched a tarantula hawk drag a paralyzed wolf spider across the path. There were also some shiny blue milkweed beetles clinging to the stems. We even saw a half dozen monarch butterflies flitting among the grasses.

The hawk was an exciting sighting for us.
These shiny blue beetles were so cool!
There were Monarch butterflies all over the meadow.

We showed our 5 year-old a matted down place in the grass where a deer had slept. Then he showed us a dozen more proclaiming things like: “This is probably were a bear slept. Look, there’s two beds for her cubs,” and “I bet that’s a coyote bed.” The trail curves around and passes a huge log that has hundreds of holes that have been drilled by woodpeckers. Then it passes by some wild raspberry bushes. If you try some, the darker purple they are, they sweeter they taste. We were so glad that the ranger pointed these out to us.

This log is where you can get an awesome picture of the waterfalls.
Wild raspberries were a surprising find.
The trail also has some boardwalks along the way. There are interpretive markers if you pick up a trail guide at the Visitor’s Center.

We also loved the views. There is an amazing look at Half Dome as you walk across the meadow. And looking back the other way, you can see Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. We couldn’t get over the grandeur of this beautiful Yosemite Valley. There is also a little side trail over to the river. We walked over to take a quick peek, and to check out the Sentinel Bridge, but then we returned to the trail we were on, and continued along the Cook’s Meadow stroll.

The gorgeous views are definitely worth the hike.
The waterfalls are beautiful across Cook’s Meadow.
Half Dome is impressive as you walk toward it across the meadow.
This is Sentinel Bridge. We walked to the edge of the river, and then back to the trail.

We really enjoyed Cook’s Meadow Loop. Some people might tramp across it without noticing anything more than the path in front of them, but we felt like it was a magical place with so much to discover. We have written about other family friendly hikes in Yosemite.



1 mile. We didn’t cross the Sentinel Bridge and walk through the parking area, instead we looked at the river and walked on the bridge, and then returned to the trail through the meadow. I think our trail was a little shorter this way. It is very flat and easy everywhere on this hike!

Cook’s Meadow is a beautiful spot in Yosemite National Park.


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