Yosemite National Park: Hiking Part of the Four Mile Trail

We returned to Yosemite on Saturday to take on a more strenuous hike than we had done during our first day in the park. It was a rainy, grey day. I really wanted to stop at Crane Flat on the way in (for the photo op), but the campground was closed for the season. We stopped briefly at the Crane Flat Gas Station, which had plenty of snow. This gave me a chance to take a picture of the snowy road we were driving into the park. The sight of the snowy forest was stunning. I appreciated the combination of the snow and the bright green moss.

Beautiful snow and evergreens at the Crane Flat Gas Station.

Beautiful snow and evergreens at the Crane Flat Gas Station.

We stopped at the same point from which we had first admired Half Dome. On this day a wall of fog had replaced the iconic rock formation. The fog was beautiful in its own way, blanketing the ridges and valleys with sometimes thick and sometimes wispy covering.

The views from the vista were shrouded in fog.

The views from the vista were shrouded in fog.

We drove to the Four Mile Trailhead, which provides a nice view of Yosemite Falls across the valley.

Yosemite Falls viewed from the valley.

Yosemite Falls viewed from the valley.

The Four Mile Trail leads to the top of Glacier Point. When we started we had no idea if we would make it to the top or not. Soon after we started the hike we met a hiker coming down the trail. He told us that the trail was closed ahead, but that the views were still good. So we pressed on.

Glacier Point looming in the fog.

Glacier Point looming in the fog, viewed from early on the Four Mile Trail.

The Four Mile Trail is actually 4.6 miles long (the original version was 4 miles long). We didn’t know it yet, but we would be able to hike about 2.75 miles before reaching the closed gate (~2,000 ft elevation gain). The trail started in fog, with bright mosses and a tree canopy covering.

The Four Mile Trail winds through the foggy lowlands.

The Four Mile Trail winds through the foggy lowlands.

Little patches of snow started to appear soon. Eventually the trail was snow-covered.

My adventurous and wonderful hiking companion.

My adventurous and wonderful hiking companion.

At random times snow would fall from the canopies of trees and shrubs, causing miniature avalanches of snow to fall over the trail. These were small enough to pose no danger, but would have been viciously cold (we did not get hit).

We paused to take a picture on the Four Mile Trail.

We paused to take a picture on the Four Mile Trail.

Eventually we reached a gate notifying us the trail was closed. A headless snowman guarded the trail.

The end of the Four Mile Trail for the winter (about 2.75 miles in).

The end of the Four Mile Trail for the winter (about 2.75 miles in).

We got a spectacular view of a snowy Half Dome from the trail closure spot. We decided to take some pictures right away, since the fog had been rolling through the valley on and off all day.

The view of Half Dome from the spot the trail was closed.

The view of Half Dome from the spot the trail was closed.

Fog wisps around Half Dome.

Fog wisps around Half Dome.

And one last photo from this vantage point.

And one last photo from this vantage point.

If was a good thing we took pictures quickly. By the time we ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a few truffles the fog had obscured Half Dome.

Half Dome hidden by fog.

Half Dome hidden by fog.

We hiked back to the car. Seeing the valley in the fog was interesting. It was dramatic in its own way, but it prevented us from seeing the details of the valley in full panoramic view. So we got to see some dramatic sights, yet more sights remain for a return trip.

We visited Yosemite Village and the Ahwahnee Hotel, then headed back to Groveland.

I hope we get a chance to hike the full Four Mile Trail in the future. I’d like to stand on Glacier Point and see the valley on a clear day.

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