Longer than expected
By Austin Explorer on 10/12/2018
Distance: 8.00 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 39 minutes
Coppertone and I decided on a flat hike to day to wrap up our week. A guided hike out of Yosemite Village opened our eyes to some of the sights one could see from a less glamorous trail such as this one.
We started off with a short hike to see Bridalveil Falls since we started at the trailhead there. Then it was off to complete a reported 4.6 mile loop in the western section of Yosemite Valley.
Things started off great as got several great views of El Capitan. The trail paralleled the busy road for a bit before retreating closer to the river, giving the hike a bit more solitude. The path would undulate towards and away from the road multiple times during the day.
The water coming off of Bridalveil Falls fork into several streams, each of which needed to be crossed without the aid of a bridge. For our fall visit this was not too much trouble but we can imagine things may be a bit trickier in the spring when flows are more robust.
Passing along the path of the Merced River afforded us yet more views of El Capitan and the hike was starting to look really good.
The turning point, figuratively and literally came at the Pohono Bridge. Once the trail turned back to the east there were fewer vistas (at least for now) and much more persistent gnats (or whatever bug was in the air).
Things improved a bit when we made to back far enough east to be near the base of El Capitan. The gnats started to thin and we enjoyed stopping for a moment here and there to watch the mountain climbers scaling the sheer walls.
We didn't do the entire loop and cut the route off at Devil's Elbow and crossing the river on the El Capitan Bridge. We should have continued through the Cathedral Picnic Area to rejoin the loop on the southern side of the valley, but our guidebook gave some other instruction that involved following the road some more and using what must have been a maverick trail to get back onto the loop.
Turning west again we started back on the loop heading to Bridalveil Falls. Though not as famous, the cliffs on this end of the valley are also in high demand by climbers and we go closer looks at the teams as they worked their way up vertical routes. The hiking here is perhaps the best in our hike as the trail undulates through rocky terrain though the trail itself is not that difficult.
After about 8 miles we finally get back to the Bridalveil Falls area. This turned out to be a lot more than the 4.6 advertised in two guidebooks. Yes, our GPS could have been having a bad day accuracy-wise, but we encountered two ladies on the trail going in the opposite direction we were so we stopped and talked during the second intercept. They too seemed to think the trail longer than advertised. Well, at least it wasn't overly hilly at the same time!