Mirror Lake in Yosemite

Mirror Lake is a beautiful spot.

We did some awesome hikes in Yosemite National Park. One of our favorites, though, was Mirror Lake. This hike is short, flat, and easy for all levels. In fact, it is paved, so some people even bike to Mirror Lake.


The first thing that you should know is that Mirror Lake isn’t really a lake. It’s more of a wide spot in the river. The second thing is that everybody likes to wade or swim in this section of the river. Yosemite doesn’t encourage this behavior, but there were at least a hundred people in the water when we were there, and the park doesn’t forbid it.

Sometimes in the spring, the water makes a lake, but it is mostly the river you are visiting.

This hike starts at shuttle stop # 17. There are two different trails. We opted to take the unpaved trail on the right to walk out to the lake. It was a little rocky, but nothing difficult and not steep at all. After about three-quarters of a mile, we started to see people in the river. We continued to the one mile marker, and there was a sign for Mirror Lake. It would more aptly be called Mirror Wide Flat River, because there is definitely no lake.

The trail starts out wide. Then it branches. You can take the paved trail on one side, or the dirt trail on the other.
We opted for the dirt trail on the way up. It’s an easy 1.0 mile walk to Mirror Lake.
The trail was shady in the afternoon when we visited. And it followed the river most of the way.
We loved the easiness of this trail.
When you get close to the Mirror Lake sign, you’ll start to see people in the water.
These cute little deer were standing right behind the sign when we arrived.

We took off our shoes and walked in the shallow water. Adults walked all the way across without getting their shorts wet. Then we hiked through the water back toward the trailhead for awhile. When the water started getting deeper, we waded to the far side and picked up the paved trail back to the shuttle stop. It was a really nice way to cool off after some of the more strenuous hikes in Yosemite.

The boys had to hold their shorts up so they wouldn’t get wet.
The scenery is really quite beautiful at Mirror Lake.
There were a few ducks enjoying the water, too!
Half Dome looms over you in this area of the park.
This was our boys’ favorite part of the day. The cool water felt good after a long day of hiking.

If you do the Mirror Lake trail, make sure to take a towel and flip-flops. You’ll want plenty of sunscreen, too. When you visit Yosemite, make sure to give Mirror Lake a try. Check out all of the hikes we tried in Yosemite here.

The river has lots of little pebbles which are perfect for building.
The trail back was paved and shady!
We also crossed this bridge on the paved trail. This is almost back to the shuttle stop.


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  1. Roger

    Actually, Mirror Lake *used* to be a lake (it’s the remnant of a glacial lake that filled most of Yosemite Valley after the last ice age); our family was there a few times in the ’60s, and it was still very much a lake. It’s been silting up since then, till now it’s just the few pools at best, like you saw.