We departed from Oakhurst at 8 a.m. to hike another one of Yosemite’s many trails. Sharing this hike was the Sierra Senior Hiking Group led by Meredith Meehan. She wanted to share this new hiking adventure which her family and close friends have enjoyed for decades. It’s called Hidden Falls and its name was appropriate, because the last half mile of this eight mile round trip hike was similar to a cross-country trek.
Starting point is at the east end of Yosemite Valley at the loop trail to Mirror Lake. This trail has two reasons to be very popular with tourists. Once arriving at the lake one can wade or swim in the clear cool mountain water fed from Tenaya Creek. If photography is your hobby, just set back and enjoy the views from the reflections of the surrounding mountains. One will not be disappointed in the clear mountain water but the views have gradually disappeared over time. The cycles of time has taken this historic landmark from a pristine lake to a grassy meadow. But remember the lake’s reputation can be upheld during the spring snow runoff. At that time one can now enjoy those reflections of the surrounding mountains.
Just before arriving at Mirror Lake on the north trail, on the right parochially hidden by trees and rocks, someone or a group of hikers placed many stacks of balancing stones. Very unique and unexpected to locate this artwork hidden in our national park.
At the end of this loop trail is a wooden bridge and if one looks closely there is a rough trail leading upstream on the east side. At this point we started our 500-foot elevation gain to this remote location called Hidden Falls. Those of us who are familiar with cross-country trekking, or just trying to negotiate an abandoned trail concealed by fallen trees, overgrown underbrush and an occasional land slide from the spring rains, this trail is a challenge for one’s skills. After a short time we managed to advance beyond the cluttered trail, and now to skirt around a 50-foot granite shelf and over the top to follow its surface to our destination; Hidden Falls.
Just as Meredith stated, we will not be disappointed with this location. From the extreme snow pack from last winter, today’s runoff cascading over the falls accented those deep grooves carved within the falls’ surface. Looking down into the canyon this sheer rock face offered another attraction. In late summer or early fall, when the water flow declines, a natural shelf will expose itself to hike under the falls.
Next I followed a nondescript pathway above the falls. Then I followed those grooves, worn over time by the cascading water, until they led into the thick foliage of the canyon forest. Turing around and facing west, the valley we had just trekked early that morning came into view. These canyon walls carved by glaciers millions of years ago displayed a hidden secret. On the north wall cascading down into the valley was another one of Yosemite’s water displays called Snow Creek Falls. Also looking upstream on the north side is Mount Walkins, another large granite peak blending in with today’s clear blue sky.
On our return this loop trail was almost deserted until we arrived at Mirror Lake. I think everyone in the valley was hiking toward Mirror Lake just to enjoying the water. They will all have memories of a special time and place that we locals are fortunate to enjoy year round.
Today’s itinerary was a total of nine hours which includes over an hour at Hidden Falls before arriving back to Oakhurst at 5 p.m. Today was a full day of adventure with another memorable afternoon visiting one of my favorite places; Yosemite National Park.