Pine forests surrounding Mirror Lake, clearly reflected in the water, and clear blue skies overhead
Life Atlas Photography/Shutterstock.com

Mirror Lake Loop

Updated by Pat Dorri on December 7 2023

Hike Mirror Lake Loop and you can expect a stunning, mirror-like reflection of the iconic Half Dome and surrounding granite cliffs. It's an easy and family-friendly journey, great for wildlife and photography fans, and especially impressive in spring and early summer when the water levels are highest.

An overview of the distance and difficulty hiking Mirror Lake Loop
πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ Distance5 miles
⏱️ Time3 hours
πŸ’ͺ DifficultyModerate
πŸ”οΈ Elevation Gain300 feet

Where can I find Mirror Lake Loop within Yosemite National Park?

Yosemite National Park is located within Yosemite Valley. From Arch Rock Entrance follow El Portal Road which runs alongside the Merced River until it merges onto Southside Drive. Continue through Yosemite Valley on Southside Drive, keeping straight ahead instead of turning left to Yosemite Village.

Park in Curry Village, just by the junction with Northside Drive and Happy Isles Loop Road, where a 5-minute walk will lead you to the start of the trailhead.

What makes this hike so special?

The Mirror Lake Loop takes you to one of Yosemite's iconic views, looking across Mirror Lake with the famous Half Dome in the background. The first part of the hike follows a paved road through the forest up to Mirror Lake, returning back towards the trailhead via impressive Tenaya Canyon.

How we rate the different aspects of Mirror Lake Loop
FeatureOur rating
Natural beauty and scenery⭐⭐⭐
Wildlife spotting⭐⭐⭐
Peace and quiet⭐⭐⭐
Accessibility⭐⭐⭐⭐

Half Dome reflecting over Mirror Lake surrounded by trees, blue sky
Half Dome stands proud, reflected in the full waters of Mirror Lake.
Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock.com

What are the highlights of hiking Mirror Lake Loop?

You can spend an enjoyable morning trekking Mirror Lake Loop, with the beautiful landscape and reflections a real talking point. Here are some other special places you can expect to see as you make your way.

  1. Mirror Lake - Mirror Lake, particularly tranquil in the early morning or late afternoon, offers a view of Half Dome and an ideal spot for a leisurely walk or picnic, especially in spring when the water levels are higher.
  2. Views of Half Dome, North Dome, and Mount Watkins - Around Mirror Lake you can enjoy stunning views of Half Dome, North Dome, and Mount Watkins, offering a photographer's dream with the surrounding landscape reflected in the lakes waters.
  3. Tenaya Canyon - Often overlooked by visitors, Tenaya Canyon is a rugged wilderness with unique features, and best viewed from above.

When is the best time of year to visit Mirror Lake Loop?

Mirror Lake Loop is particularly impressive in the spring and early summer when Mirror Lake is at its fullest. Visit during this time and you can expect stunning views, with fall also popular when the weather is mild and pleasant for hiking.

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When is the best time to visit Mirror Lake Loop
SeasonConsiderations
Spring🌷 Visit in spring and Mirror Lake is at its fullest, revealing some of the most impressive landscape reflections.
Summerβ˜€οΈ Mirror Lake dries up in the summer, so if you want to see the iconic view of the lake with reflections it's best to visit spring and early summer.
πŸ‚ The changing fall colors are particularly pretty during this season, and a photographers favorite.
Winter❄️ The trail is accessible all year round but can be icy or snowy in the winter, particularly the south side, so instead do a return visit along the north side late winter.

Common questions about hiking Mirror Lake Loop

The stunning landscape and impressive views along Mirror Lake Loop make this an accessible and popular hike within Yosemite. If you also plan to visit then take a look at what you can expect to find as you take a morning out to make this beautiful trek.

Is Mirror Lake Loop easily accessible for those with mobility issues?

β­• Yes, part of Mirror Lake Loop is easily accessible for those with mobility issues, particularly the first mile along a flat, paved, surface.

❗ Please note after the first mile this trail can become more challenging with uneven surfaces.

Are there restrooms along Mirror Lake Loop?

β­• Yes, there are restrooms at the trailhead of Mirror Lake Loop, although there are no restrooms along the actual trail.

Are there refreshments and water stations along Mirror Lake Loop?

❌ No, there are no refreshments along Mirror Lake Look. With no fresh water on this trail, make sure your water bottles are full before starting.

Are dogs allowed along Mirror Lake Loop?

β­• Yes, dogs are allowed along Mirror Lake Loop and must be leashed at all times.

Are vehicles allowed along Mirror Lake Loop?

❌ No, cars, electric scooters, and ATVs are not allowed on Mirror Lake Loop.

Can you camp overnight along Mirror Lake Loop (or nearby)?

β­• Yes, you can camp overnight close to Mirror Lake Loop. A short walk from the trailhead you will find North Pines Camp Ground next to the Merced River.

Is there anything else to watch out for when I hike Mirror Lake Loop?

It is advisable not to hike solo on Mirror Lake Loop since Mountain Lions live in this part of Yosemite!

Mirror Lake in foreground, surrounded by forests and views of North Dome and Half Dome
Visit in spring or early summer and Mirror Lake is at its fullest and you can enjoy the stunning landscape.
TMP - An Instant of Time/Shutterstock.com