Not all hikes within Yosemite have to be strenuous or require a two-hour drive to enjoy its remarkable scenery. Only 20 miles from Oakhurst and just across the road from Wawona (Big Trees Hotel) is our trailhead. This trailhead gives us a choice of a three- or six-mile loop. Today’s choice will be the upper loop or six-mile trail which I’ll be sharing with the Sierra Senior Hikers.
This trail elevation begins around 3,975 feet, which is also the old Chowchilla Stagecoach Road. We have a gradual ascent to 4,200 feet. After 10 minutes we start hiking directly south skirting above Wawona Meadow or the Wawona golf course. This hike is very colorful during the May and June spring season with wild flowers in bloom. During the fall season a few of the native trees start changing color. But what these wilderness trails have in common is the peaceful atmosphere. The only breaks in its silence are sounds of native birds chirping, the gentle breeze filtering through the trees and your boots forging for traction along this historic pathway. The scars from summer fires have spared this area but the five years of drought and the bark beetle have left its mark with many cut pine and cedar trees down along this pathway.
Roughly an hour into this trek we depart from the road on an established trail and descend in elevation. Keep in mind if we accidentally pass this junction, an additional few miles will be added to this six-mile hike. Yes, we found the trail, which is the scenic area of this hike. Descending through the canyons and skirting along the seasonal streams brought back a few memories of this area’s spring runoff cascading into the ravine below.
Finally we arrive at the wooden bridge. From this point our hike is level skirting along the north side of the golf course and the historic cedar rail fence. Less than a quarter mile is the Wawona (Big Trees Hotel) and our trailhead.
This is an excellent hike for the beginner. I classify this three-hour trek as moderate. With the addition of the hotel, this hike now becomes a complete adventure: a Yosemite wilderness trek and a historic restaurant to have a meal and relax before the drive home.