The Mirror Lake Trail is a beautiful, easy hike that can be completed as a one hour round trip or a two to three hour loop. The lake itself is at its fullest during the spring and early summer when Tenaya Creek is flowing. During summer months, when water levels are low, this area is often referred to as Mirror Meadow. The trail is open year round although in winter conditions can be icy and snowy.
Access to the trailhead is provided by the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle and is an easy solution to the lack of parking close by. Visitors are encouraged to park anywhere in the eastern valley and ride to stop #17 where the trail begins. Cyclists can ride the first mile of the trail along the paved road and then continue on foot to the lake. Strollers and leashed pets are also permitted on the paved road but no further along the trail. Vault toilets are available 0.5 miles (0.8 km) and 1 mile (1.6 km) from the trailhead.
The hike begins on a paved road and winds through the forest along the Valley floor for approximately a mile. When you leave the road and join the trail, exhibits explaining the cultural history and biology of the area provide interesting information for the visitor. From this junction it is a short distance to the Lake where you are treated to beautiful views of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, Washington Column and more. On calm days during spring when the lake is full from recent snow melt the reflections of these iconic mountains are mirrored in the waters creating a spectacular scene. At this point the loop continues beyond the lake, following Tenaya Creek and crossing two bridges before returning past Mirror Lake on the south side of Tenaya Canyon. For the shorter hike visitors retrace their steps to the paved road and return to the trailhead this way.