11 Easy Hikes in Yosemite with Kids

Easy hikes in Yosemite - Yosemite family hiking

Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful and visited parks in the US. It can seem overwhelming to plan a trip to Yosemite, and even more so to figure out what to do as a family. But there are so many great, easy hikes in Yosemite with kids you can do.

Here is everything you need to know about going to Yosemite with kids and a few awesome hikes that the kids and adults will both appreciate. Easy hikes often have a great reward, too!

This is a guest contribution by Megan from Lets Jet Kids

Yosemite is a great place for bringing kids. It’s huge, covering 1,169 square miles. For comparison, Rocky Mountain National Park seems huge at 415 square miles. The vastness of this park means that there are so many options for families to enjoy.

Not everything inside is kid-friendly, but there are tons of hikes and sites to see in Yosemite that kids can manage just fine!

Where to Stay in Yosemite with Kids

There are plenty of campgrounds in the park, but if you are packing for an airplane, chances are you aren’t packing all your camping gear.

Tenaya Lodge

One of the great accommodations nearby is Tenaya Lodge. It is one of the closest lodgings to the park entrance. Even at that, it takes close to an hour to really get into the thick of the park.

It is really, really nice, though a bit heavy on the wallet once you are inside. Fireplaces are greeting you in the lobby and a beautiful entrance/pull-up.

There’s a beautiful lobby, a few restaurant options in the hotel, deli/small convenience store inside, indoor and outdoor pool with hot tubs, friendly check-in, valet available, a small fridge in the room, and again, not far from the south entrance to Yosemite.

If you have young ones or teens, there is an arcade next to the indoor pool. There’s also a laundromat. 

Rentals near Yosemite

There are plenty of rentals near Yosemite to choose from. The south entrance is very accessible for rentals in Wawona Village or in the Fish Camp area.

Rentals will give you plenty of room to stretch out with the family. They can also save you money if you’d like to cook some easy meals at the rental after a quick trip to the grocery store.

11 Easy Hikes in Yosemite with Kids

1. Tuolumne Meadows

  • Distance: N/A
  • Difficulty: Easy

Tuolumne Meadows is the perfect picnic stop in Yosemite with kids. While there is a hike you can take here, it’s better to just relax and enjoy when you’re here with little kids.

It is a beautiful spot that sits at 8,600 feet in elevation. The Tuolumne River runs through the meadows, filled from snowmelt each year.

This ultra-clean water eventually becomes the drinking water all the way to San Francisco.

Easy hikes in Yosemite - Tuolumne meadow

This is an easy walk from the Yosemite Falls shuttle stop. Right at the Swinging Bridge (a long bridge that does not swing, but it is beautiful) you can cut down and over onto the beach of the river.

The view here is amazing. You can relax here for a while and watch the ducks (but don’t feed them, of course). The view could be from a magazine sitting in front of this river.

2. Soda Springs

  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: easy

Located in the Tuolumne Meadows area is the trail for Soda Springs and the Parsons Lodge.  This easy trail is a gravel path leading to bubbling springs that kids will love watching.  The springs are actually cold water that’s carbonated and bubbling out of the ground. 

The trail is easy and will lead you to Parsons Lodge.  Here you’ll find exhibits to enjoy and learn about the history of the Sierra Club, which Edward Taylor Parsons was the director of in the early 1900s.

Continue on the trail and under the bridge to reach the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. 

3. Glacier Point – a great hike in Yosemite with kids

  • Distance: 0.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you want to see it all in one spot, Glacier Point is the place.

While there is a moderate loop you can hike, you can also just head straight to the viewpoint on an easy paved trail.

Glacier Point is one of the most popular, easy hikes in Yosemite, and it is stroller/wheelchair accessible to get to the viewpoint.

Easy hikes in yosemite - view from glacier point of half dome

The viewpoint will show you Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and more of this beautiful park. If your kids aren’t much into hiking, this is a great way to see Yosemite with kids.

You can access Glacier Point from late May through October/November, dependent on weather.

There are bathrooms in the parking lot. In the summer, the gift shop and a cafeteria at the trailhead are open. At just a mile roundtrip, it’s a nice easy one for kids.

4. Tenaya Lake Trail

  • Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy

At roughly 3.5 miles roundtrip, this trail is an easy hike for walking, birdwatching, or stay at the beginning at enjoy the lake.

Bring a suit and jump in the cold water to refresh if you’re brave. There are many reports of impressive amounts of mosquitos, so don’t forget the bug spray.

Easy hikes in yosemite - lake tenaya

Tenaya Lake is located right along Tioga Pass Rd, and you will be hiking along the opposite side of the lake from the road. Parking is available at either end of the lake.

There are bathrooms available in the east parking lot.

5. Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias

  • Distance: 2.5 Miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate (because of the large hill coming back)

Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias is a great place to start if you are coming into Yosemite from the west entrance. You can stretch out, use the bathroom, and take a nice walk after being in the car for so long.

Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias is just that. It’s a huge grove filled with about 2 dozen of GIANT sequoias.

There is parking available right off the road and signs leading you to the trail. It was just over a mile there and over a mile back.

It is also stroller accessible (with a good stroller, not a city stroller.) If you have small kids, they’ll probably enjoy running on the way there and hitching a ride in the stroller on the way back.

You’ll have to push uphill on the way back, but it’s not too bad. This is a great place to stretch out and introduce yourself to Yosemite if you’re coming in from the west and need a break from the car.

Bathrooms are available at the beginning of the trail.

Mariposa Grove Hikes

Near the south entrance is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Easy hikes in yosemite - tree tunnel mariposa grove

Mariposa Grove is the perfect place to visit in Yosemite with kids. It’s the largest grove in the park, filled with over 500 mature Sequoia trees.

These are huge! Check them out on these fun, easy Yosemite hikes for kids.

6. Big Trees Loop

  • Distance: 0.3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

It’s exactly what it says: a loop where you get to see a lot of big trees 🙂

This easy loop winds through the forest, giving you up close views of some giants like the Fallen Monarch.

The trail is flat and stroller-friendly.

7. Grizzly Giant

  • Distance: 2-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The Grizzly Giant is the most well-known tree in Yosemite. It stands at 209 feet tall, making it the 2nd largest tree in Yosemite and oldest tree within Mariposa Grove.

For the most part a stroller will be fine; there were just a couple places you may have to lift it over tree roots growing out of the ground, etc. (You can step over them, but not roll over them easily).

Hikes in Yosemite Valley

8. Lower Yosemite Falls

  • Distance: 1.2-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

Yosemite Falls is another great hike to do in Yosemite with kids. The viewpoint will expose both upper and lower waterfalls. The bottom one alone is an impressive 320 feet.

The kids will most likely run most of this, but having a stroller or hiking backpack is also a good idea. The whole hike is really beautiful.

Easy hikes in yosemite - lower yosemite falls

If you visit in October, there probably won’t be a drop of water coming out of the falls, but you could just imagine it! The waterfall does dry up by late July, so don’t expect much if you visit after that.

The mountain is a straight, tall wall of granite shooting out of the ground. In spring, it is filled with rushing water, so try to plan a spring trip to Yosemite if waterfalls are high on your list.

The shuttle will drop you right at the beginning, and there are bathrooms available. There is no parking at the trailhead, but you can walk over along the bike trail from the Valley Visitor Center.

9. Mirror Lake Trail Loop

  • Distance: 4.4 miles loop (or opt for 2 mile RT just to go to the lake)
  • Difficulty: moderate loop, easy if just going to the lake

If you are traveling to Yosemite with kids that are older, try the Mirror Lake Loop.

However, you don’t have to do the full hike if you have younger kids. You can simply hike in a mile to get to the lake without completing a loop. This part is stroller-friendly.

This trail begins outside of Curry Village.

Easy hikes in Yosemite - mirror lake loop trail

After about 100 feet of elevation gain, the lake is a real treat at the end. The lake captures a reflection just like (you guessed it!) a mirror.

The best time to visit Mirror Lake is spring and early summer, as the lake does dry up for most of the year.

Access the lake from shuttle stop #17.

Bathrooms are available at this trail.

10. Bridalveil Falls Trail

  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

There are a few Bridalveil Falls in the US, including the tallest waterfall in Colorado, a local waterfall in Utah, and this Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite.

Hikes like this are what make Yosemite one of the best National Parks to visit with kids. At only a half-mile round trip, this is one of the easiest Yosemite hikes with kids. And there’s a great reward at the end.

Easy hikes in Yosemite - Bridal Veil falls

Park in the designated lot for Bridalveil, as there is no shuttle. Then take the short walk to this incredible waterfall, dropping from 620 feet.

Kids will have no problem on this paved trail.

Bathrooms are located in the parking lot.

11. Cook’s Meadow Loop

  • Distance: 1 mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

Cook’s Meadow loop is another great hike in Yosemite with kids. You’ll get great views of Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point, Half Dome, and more.

This short and easy walk is open year-round and can be accessed from the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. Head to the Sentinel Bridge for great views.

You can park at the Visitor Center or at the Lower Falls lot. There may even be a couple of spots available near the Sentinel Bridge if you’re lucky.

Alternatively, you can take the shuttle to stop #5 (the visitor center) or #6 (closer to the trail).

More Things to do in Yosemite with Kids

Visit the Yosemite History Center

The park was developed over time from the contributions of people who moved there worldwide.

You can visit the superintendent’s office at the Yosemite History Center in the summertime, watch a blacksmith, or even ride on a horse carriage.

Even if it’s not summer, you can still visit and tour around the outside with the interpretive signs.

Be a Junior Ranger at Yosemite

The Junior Ranger program is a great National Parks program.

Visitor any visitor center in Yosemite to pick up a Junior Ranger handbook. Then, as your family visits different areas of the park, you can complete the activities inside.

At the end of your trip, stop by the visitor center again and show a park ranger so you can get your Junior Ranger badge.

When to Visit Yosemite with Kids

Spring (and early summer) is definitely the best time to visit Yosemite with kids. The lakes, rivers, and waterfalls will be full, giving you the best experience (and pictures).

Easy hikes in Yosemite - Yosemite colors in the spring

The farther into fall you get, the less water in the lakes and waterfalls. And these are the things kids enjoy most.

With all the other sites, trees, and hikes, there’s still plenty to see no matter what time works to go to Yosemite. So if spring doesn’t work out, it’s still worth going to Yosemite in fall.

If you have more than a few days, I’d recommend combining Yosemite with a great road trip through nearby National Parks.

Closures in Yosemite

As any national park occasionally does, there is plenty of restoration, weather, and construction projects going on in Yosemite.

Check ahead to make sure you’ll be able to access the hikes and sites you’d like to see.

Entrance Fees for Yosemite National Park

A standard car has a $35 fee for entering Yosemite National Park. Upon arrival, you can pay with any major credit card at the ranger station (cash NOT accepted.)

If you plan to visit multiple parks, I suggest getting the America the Beautiful Pass. This is a one-time fee of $80 that will get you into any national park and federal land for an entire year.

Entrance fees (including the America the Beautiful Pass) do not cover any needed reservations.

Also, remember that if you have a current 4th grader, you can get a National Parks pass for FREE through the Every Kid Outdoors program.

Reservations for Yosemite

For the past couple of years, reservations were required due to Covid and ongoing repairs at different attractions.

However, beginning in 2023, reservations are no longer required to enter Yosemite National Park.

There are occasionally attractions that require reservations, such as Horsetail Fall during the month of February. These reservations are not included in your entrance fee and must be made ahead of time.

Bear Safety in Yosemite: What to do

There are estimated to be 300-500 bears in Yosemite National Park. This can be cool, or it can be unnerving, especially if you are visiting Yosemite with kids.

While that sounds like a lot of bears, you’re more likely not to see one than to see one. Yosemite is just under 750,000 acres, with just a couple hundred bears inside.

Easy hikes in Yosemite - a yosemite brown bear

Bear spray is NOT permitted in Yosemite National Park. So you may be wondering what to do.

If you do see a bear, there are some safety tips the park recommends doing if the bear is near you:

  • Make a commotion and try to scare away the bear.
  • Get as many people together to be more intimidating, but do NOT surround the bear.
  • Do NOT throw food at the bear to get it to leave. This will only provoke future incidents.

The best way to protect bears is to keep their natural fear of people alive. So do not approach the bear, do not feed the bear.

Sequoia Trees of Yosemite National Park

You may have heard of Redwoods, but have you heard of the other giants: Sequoias?

Sequoias and redwoods are part of a group of conifers that existed back with the dinosaurs. Over time, many species have been lost through climate change over 144 million years. So it’s pretty awesome that the US is lucky enough to showcase some.

They have thick bark that retains water, which helps them survive through fires. (More interesting info at Save the Redwoods.)

Easy hikes in Yosemite - Sequoia trees

FAQ about Yosemite with Kids

Is Yosemite Child Friendly?

Absolutely, Yosemite National Park is very child friendly. There are shuttles to help you get around, a center village with places to eat, and plenty of easy trails so your kids can have just as much fun.

How many days do you need in Yosemite with kids?

3 days is a great amount of time to spend in Yosemite with kids. While you could easily spend longer, 3 days is enough to really visit the top spots and get a variety of hiking, waterfalls, and viewpoints.

What month is best for Yosemite?

May is the best month to visit Yosemite, as well as June. As the water sources for the lakes and waterfalls come from snowmelt, May will be warm enough to bring about the melt and fill up all the waterfalls. As you get farther into summer, things start to dry up (such as Mirror Lake, which is typically dry by July)

Is 2 days enough in Yosemite?

If that’s what you have, then yes, 2 days is enough. You’ll be able to really pack your days with adventure and see the top spots in Yosemite.

Are reservations required to visit Yosemite National Park?

As of 2023, reservations are no longer required to visit Yosemite. Past years required reservations due to Covid or repairs, but reservations are not needed currently. Some attractions, such as Horsetail Fall in February, do require reservations to limit the number of visitors.

Yosemite with Kids

A child standing inside a giant sequoia in yosemite

There are so many great and easy hikes in Yosemite you can do with kids and so many great viewpoints and things to see. Even though Yosemite is huge and you probably won’t be climbing half-dome, you can still make a great Yosemite family vacation and see so much.

From easy half-mile trails, meandering around lakes, or walking to incredible waterfalls, visiting Yosemite with kids can be a lot of fun to watch the wonder in their eyes at these natural marvels. Choose your favorites, or choose them all if you have the time, and enjoy your wonderful trip to Yosemite.

About The Blogger

Megan and her husband have four kids, and they love to travel and learn about new places.  They love visiting national parks and discovering how each is so different and yet so beautiful.  They especially love nature, experiences, and finding budget-friendly activities while traveling!

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