Tuolumne hikes with kids

1:52 p.m. on November 29, 2007 (EST)
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I'm planning next summer's family vacation, which will include a day or so in the Tuolumne Meadows, Tioga Pass area. Any suggestions for interesting hikes there that my wife and I can take with the kids? One child will be seven and the other will be three. The three-year-old will be in a kid carrier backpack. Hikes need to be under four miles total, as neither child tolerates more than that happily.


5:50 p.m. on November 29, 2007 (EST)
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There are plenty of guidebooks on Yosemite. The Rough Guide is a fairly good one and lists a few hikes. Yosemite gets really crowded in Summer; if you are staying overnight, be sure to book in advance. There are several Yosemite websites-the official NPS site as well as http://www.yosemitepark.com which has concessionaire information on it. You can find out pretty much everything you need to know on those sites.

8:34 p.m. on November 29, 2007 (EST)
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Tom said


Yosemite gets really crowded in Summer; if you are staying overnight, be sure to book in advance.

What he left out is that Tuolumne campground, like all Yosemite campgrounds, gets fully reserved within 24 hours of the reservations opening up (about 6 months in advance for most of the campgrounds). You can also try for the USFS campsites east of the Tioga Pass entrance on the Tioga Road that comes up from Lee Vining. There are a large number of these right on the Tioga road, starting from about 1 mile up from the turnoff in Lee Vining, plus one at Saddlebag Lake and a walk-in at Sawmill on the Saddlebag road (turns off just below the Tioga Resort).

Kids usually like the Waterwheel Falls hike (Barb was first taken there when she was about 3 and her brother about 5, though it is a bit of a hike for that age, while I was about 8 and my sister about 5 on our first visit there). There are lots of things to see along the way if they want to turn back part way. The Muir Trail section up Lyell Canyon (that is, heading south from The Meadows) is really nice, and kid-friendly in that there is a really nice stream right from the start (go as far as they will tolerate, considering they have to return). At Saddlebag Lake (outside the park, you can take a boat across the lake, then walk around some of the dozen or so lakes on nice trails. Kids seem to enjoy the boat ride, though maybe too eager to ride the boat back, so you might find them asking for "wanna ride the boat" before you have gone 100 yards. You can start up the Mt Dana trail for, say, 1/2 mile, and enjoy the little tarns. You often see deer in this area. At the east end of The Meadows, you can take a short walk from the road (lots of wide spots to park) and walk over to the low angle slabs. Kids love to scramble on these, and you can pick one low enough angle to feel comfortable with letting them loose for a couple minutes. And if you are really lucky, you can catch a talk by a Real Climber who will explain about rock climbing and let the kids handle some Real Climbing Gear (if you haven't guessed, I am one of the Real Climbers who give the talks - I do one or two each summer, along with others - these are usually on Saturdays and Sundays at Lembert Dome, just across the river from the Tuolumne campground.

The really great thing about the Meadows is that you can set off on almost any trail (there are several signed Nature Trails, too), go as far as you, er, I mean, the kids want, and take lots of time. It's all gorgeous, and a lot less crowded than The Valley (still crowded, though).

1:34 a.m. on December 20, 2007 (EST)
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i love the tuolumne meadows area, especially when an afternoon thunderstorm hits it for an hour or so. one nice walk is from the dog lake parking lot along the JMT upstream. it's nearly stone's throw form the road at that portion, very wide and flat. head towards the dana fork bridge, cross that (kids will love it) the continue on towards the twin wooden bridges on the lyell fork. it's just under a 2 mile walk out, then 2 back again.

you could even explore the dana fork/stream from the dog lake lot downstream for less than a mile. there's a small trail right along the water's edge. i imagine fun to explore for kids. my 7 year old daughter loved flyfishing it. i think that trail eventually takes you near the TM campground, which also offers a walk-in camp area which doesn;t take reservations.

i'm slowly exposing my daughter to the outdoors and she loves walking trails. one she hiked with me a year ago was not in the TM area but if you find yourself near it, it would be worth checking out. over on glacier point rd near the bridalveil campground, where the road crosses over bridalveil creek there is a trailhead headed downstream. it doesn't actually connect to bridalveil creek for 2 miles but my daughter surprised me when she hiked the 2 miles out with her little rei hydration pack and hi-tec boots. she made it back about a third of the way and from then on i carried her on my shoulders the remaining distance but now that's she's turned 8 it might be worth another shot again.

either way, the meadow area is criss-crossed by numerous trail options. you'll find plenty of great options.

fresno, ca.

May 23, 2018
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