Hike to Yosemite's Mirror Lake

Yosemite Mirror Lake Trailhead, Yosemite NP

Added by Mariya Dondonyan

Mirror Lake is a big pool in Tenaya Creek. There are great photo opportunities as you can get to the base of Half Dome. 

Mirror Lake is a very popular spot in the Yosemite Valley and definitely a must see to check off your explore list. Crowds are much smaller if you go during the winter, but some parts of the water might be iced over.

The trailhead you take to get there is well marked and can be found at the far east end of Yosemite Valley. You have the option to take a shuttle to the trailhead or hike the extra 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip from Curry Village or the Ahwahnee Hotel.

The trailhead walk to the lake is really beautiful as you dive deeper into this sea of trees and enter through the woods. Total travel distance is 2.4 miles (3.8 km) round trip from the trailhead to Mirror Lake; 4 miles (6.4 km) to go all the way to the end of the trail in Tenaya Canyon and loop around. There's not a lot of climbing, and much of the trail is paved - you can even ride your bike most of the way to Mirror Lake. Elevation at trailhead is 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) and elevation gain is only 100 feet (30 meters.)

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Hiking boots
  • Hiking clothes
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunblock/ hat/ sunglasses
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



2.4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

100 Feet



Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

about 1 month ago

Not A Lake, Still Worth It

This isn't a lake anyway - it's a seasonal pond. Which means that it's pretty much dried up in September. DOESN'T MATTER, STILL GORGEOUS. A shortish, easy walk- no more than 40 minutes - takes you along a stream, weaving in and out of groves of cedar, until you come out into a sweeping empty space surrounded by mountains. It's not a meadow yet - the plants haven't taken hold, except for a few trees here and there and some grasses growing along a trickle of a streamlet. So you can wander around gazing up at the mountains and the vast space around you.

about 1 month ago

6 months ago

Great, easy valley stroll

Mirror lake is a great hike to do early in the morning, as there are significantly less people, and the walk is shaded, but the rock formations up above are beaming in the sun. Try to get there before 8 AM! There are 2 options to get to Mirror Lake. If you want to take the paved route, always stay to the left & cross Tenaya bridge! Don't take the sandy path to the right. Officially, the NPS calculates 5 miles for the full loop, so plan accordingly!

6 months ago

6 months ago

A nice walk in the park

This is a nice option when you've just tackled a longer, more strenuous hike and need something a little easier. As mentioned, the entire route is mostly on a paved road, making it suitable for walking or riding a bike. Beautiful views await once you reach the lake!

6 months ago

7 months ago

Easy Hike with Nice Rewards!

This hike is a quick one with beautiful views! I went in the winter and part of the lake was frozen making it a little difficult to see the reflections it is so famous for but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

7 months ago

10 months ago

The reflections in the pool make it a great photo spot for sunrise/sunset. In winter I've still come across a number of other photographers here.

10 months ago

11 months ago

Gorgeous stroll...

If you have dreamed of standing beneath Half Dome to look straight up at all of its grandeur... ah... this is a must-do. The trail is actually mostly a road pretty much the entire way there and is a very nice, leisurely stroll. It is incredibly beautiful in the winter months when the snow is out and the water can "mirror" Half Dome. Highly recommended!

11 months ago

More Adventures Nearby

Backpack the Little Five & Big Five Lakes Loop

Yosemite / Sawtooth Trailhead

Day 1: A long, rewarding day. Over the course of 11.5 miles you will complete around 10,000ft of elevation change.

Breanne McNitt
8 Saves

Hike the Shadow of the Giants Trail

Yosemite / Shadow of the Giants Trail

The Shadow of the Giants National Recreation trail is an amazing 1.1 mile self-guided hike through the heart of Nelder Grove.

Dan Deublein
8 Saves

Hike the North Dome Loop via Yosemite Falls Trail

Yosemite / Yosemite Falls/Columbia Rock Trailhead

One of the most challenging and rewarding hikes on the northern rim of Yosemite Valley. This is an alternative to the often crowded Mist, Panorama or 4-Mile Trails.

Matt Purciel
2 Saves