If you have never been to Yosemite, you are missing out on some fabulous views! You and your best friend can start with an easy hike at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center where there is parking, and take the short Cook's Meadow Loop trail that is just a mile long. Some of the most pawesome sights await you and your pooch as you walk west on the bike path to the left fork in the path. From the Sentinel Bridge, you can see the Half Dome and Merced River before your hike.
At almost every point along the Cook’s Meadow Trail, you will be able to see the majestic Yosemite Falls. In fact, at one point at the southern end of the meadow, you can see both the upper and lower Yosemite falls at one time. You and your pooch will be crossing several footbridges across the Yosemite Creek where you can spot some waterfowl, fish, lizards, and turtles.
At about a quarter of a mile into the hike, you will come to the Yosemite Chapel, which was built in the late 1800s, and is considered a historic building. This is a fabulous place to get some selfies with your furry friend for your Facebook page or scrapbook. Along both sides of the trail, you will see the largest variety of wildflowers you have probably ever seen in one place.
A bit more than halfway is the famous Yosemite Swinging Bridge where you and your buddy can get some more pictures. There are supposed to be some amazing views of the Yosemite Falls from downstream. On the way back to the starting point, you will pass by Glacier Point and Cook’s Meadow where more flowers abound, with western azalea, cow parsnip, lilies, many varieties and colors of irises, and tons of ornamental grasses.
To take a longer hike, take the spur trail to the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail for an extra mile to see even more of what the Yosemite Valley has to offer.
The paved Cook’s Meadow Trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible if you need it, and there's lots of places to stop for a rest, even though it is a short path. Bring water to keep you and your pooch hydrated on your hike, as well as clean-up bags to help keep this pawmazing place pristine. Drinking fountains and human restrooms are available at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, and near the Lower Yosemite Falls. If you bring any food, make sure you keep an eye on it as there are black bears in the area. Keep your pup leashed throughout the hike, and stay on the path to protect this precious ecosystem.
Entrance passes are required to get into Yosemite that can be purchased in advance, or at the gate the day of entry. For a seven day pass, the fee per private vehicle is $35, but if you know you want to enjoy more time in this national treasure, an annual pass is $70. If you don't have a car and are just hiking through, you can also get a seven day pass for $20.
Grab your furry friend and head on up to the Cook’s Meadow Loop right now, and don’t forget your camera.