52 Hike Challenge – Hike 9 – Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park

Hike 9 was an adventure! It was an easy out and back 2.6 mile trail in Yosemite National Park. It was my last hike on a day that had started at 4AM. I was exhausted, but since this was my only chance to hike this trail on this trip I took it.

Panorama on Mirror Lake trail
Panorama on Mirror Lake trail including Royal Arches, Washington Column, North Dome and Mt. Watkins

I only mention how tired I was because I think by this point in the day it was making me a little loopy. At the trailhead there is a sign warning hikers that this trail is in mountain lion territory. Well duh, I was in the mountains in California. At this point I wasn’t even really worried about bear encounters which are much more common, but for some reason (exhaustion) this mountain lion scared me. Irrationally.

This trail is heavily used, but for most of the hike in to the “lake” (actually just a still section of Tenaya Creek) I was alone. Since I didn’t have my bear bells with me, I did what any irrationally-afraid-of-a-chance-encounter-with-an-animal person would do – I slapped my thighs with my hands as I walked and sang the chorus of Justin Bieber’s “Company” for 15 minutes. Turns out when I told other hikers about this “strategy” they all thought it was decent so…thanks Biebs?

Anyway, the hike. Easy and flat. Despite the boogeyman mountain lions I did enjoy myself. The hike is along Tenaya Creek which is very pretty, but the real reward is the clearing at Mirror Lake a little over a mile in. Since I visited in spring there was actually some water to be seen – the lake dries up in the summertime and it becomes “Mirror Meadow”. From the lake you have huge panoramic views of North Dome and Mt. Watkins.

The hike out was much more relaxed – I just jumped in behind a couple and stayed about 20 feet back of them. I’m glad I pushed through this hike and my completely irrational spook. The view from Mirror Lake was one I wouldn’t get again during my trip, and it helped snap me back to reality that (1) I needed more sleep and (2) the mountain lions weren’t hunting me.

Highly recommend this trail for any age or level of hiker. Have you ever done the Mirror Lake Trail? Or better yet had a run-in with a mountain lion?! Tell me about it below!


  1. Beautiful photos!

Leave a Reply