The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Yosemite's best day hikes

Times Staff Writer

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 Lakes Details: 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 Grove Details: 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 Trail Details: 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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