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Yosemite's best day hikes

One of the best ways to see Yosemite is on two legs, so we asked an expert to come up with a list of good hikes. Adrienne Parks, a ranger at Yosemite National Park since 2003, offers her Top 5 day hikes.

1. Gaylor LakesDetails: Moderate. Elevations above 9,000 feet. Two miles round-trip; two hours. 500-foot elevation gain.

Trailhead: Tioga Pass Entrance Station. Rewarding views.

Why: "A glorious way to see the true high country," Parks said.

2. Mariposa GroveDetails: Moderate. Six miles to the Grizzly Giant (in the Mariposa Grove).

Trailhead: Behind the Wawona Hotel's Moore Cottage. Trailhead marked by the sign "Two Hour Trail Ride." Free Wawona-Mariposa Grove shuttle bus back to Wawona.

Why: "Walking through the giant sequoias is the perfect way to see them," Parks said.

3. Wawona Meadow

Details: Easy. 3.5 mile-loop; two hours.

Trailhead: At the Wawona Hotel.

Why: "One of my favorites, because you can take [leashed] dogs on it."

4. Mist TrailDetails: Strenuous. Three miles to Vernal Fall; 7 miles to Nevada Falls, with about a 1,000- to 2,000-foot elevation gain along the Merced River canyon. Trailhead: Happy Isles. Accessible only by shuttle bus, Stop 16.

Why: "It's the classic waterfalls; it's the classic river slot canyon."

5. Wapama at Hetch Hetchy

Details: Moderate. Five miles round-trip; two hours.

Trailhead: O'Shaughnessy Dam to the base of Wapama Falls, passing two smaller waterfalls (during spring) on the way.

Why: It's an area that's becoming popular, but it's still not as popular as the Valley. "It's a great one for early season or late season."

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