With water still flowing in Yosemite Falls at the end of July this year, any hike where those falls are in view is one to include on your list of summer treks. With a desire to hike where it was a bit cooler, friends, Betsy and Mark Blum, and I headed for McGurk Meadow along the Glacier Point Road and then took the trail to Taft Point and the Fissures, an 8.8 mile round trip hike with spectacular views.
The McGurk Meadow trailhead is on the left, 7.5 miles after making the turn onto Glacier Point Road at Chinquapin. At 6,900 feet, there was a bit of the coolness in the air that we sought.
The .9 mile hike down to the meadow complete with babbling brook is a favorite annual hike for the immense wildflower display and this year was no disappointment with four-foot tall lupine, crimson columbine, larkspur, fireweed, tiger lilies, Richardson’s geranium, paintbrush, owl’s clover, scarlet gilia, Leichtlin’s Mariposa lilies, cow parsnip and fading snow plants.
After following the trail along the edge of the meadow for another mile, we came to the point where it intersects the Pohono Trail. Last year, we took the left fork to Dewey Point but this year we headed east toward Taft Point and the Fissures.
The trail provides a lot of shade as it winds through an old growth forest and down to a footbridge straddling Bridalveil Creek, where we glimpsed trout 10-11 inches long.
A long climb out of the creek bed, also shaded, provided us with multiple views of mini meadows.
I gave these meadows names based on what we found, one earning the name of California Coneflower Meadow with its show of bright yellow blooms. Another I named Deer Meadow for the doe browsing on the grasses and flowers blooming there. A treat at the end of this meadow was a tree-framed view of Yosemite Falls in the distance.
We were soon rewarded with more glimpses of the falls and then 7,500-foot Taft Point jutting out over Yosemite Valley. After 2.5 miles on this little piece of the Pohono Trail, we arrived at Taft Point, marked by a short guardrail, with views of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, 10,856-foot Mount Hoffman, Basket Dome and North Dome.
Hiking at a good pace with a few stops for wildflower photos, it took the three of us 2.5 hours to reach Taft Point.
Besides the views of the falls and peaks on the opposite rim of Yosemite Valley, there are other prominent geological features here also, The Fissures, fractures in the granite giving those adventurous enough to peer over the edges views of Yosemite Valley 2,000 feet below.
After an hour photographing the views and dining on peanut butter sandwiches and fruit, we retraced our steps taking more time for wildflower viewing and arriving back at the trailhead just two hours later.
Note: There is no paved parking at this trailhead. Parking is in a wide dirt area at the side of the road just past the McGurk Meadow trailhead sign. This hike was made during the last week of July.