Today’s post is part of “Where to Go in Yosemite With Kids,” a series about our favorite places to explore with kids in Yosemite National Park.
There are plenty of great trails to explore with kids in Wawona (our home base in Yosemite), including two we tackled last summer (Chilnualna Falls and a hike to the California Tunnel Tree at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias). This summer we tried two more, including the Wawona Meadow Loop.
Unlike some of the more popular hikes in Yosemite, there’s no waterfall or iconic glacier or mountain to see as your final destination. Instead, you’ll venture around one of Yosemite’s largest meadows – with wildflowers galore to see in spring and early summer, and changing leaves in the fall.
The trail loops around the meadow via a relatively flat, tree-lined path. What makes it ideal for kids is that you don’t necessarily have to hike the entire 3.5 miles to take in tons of wildflowers this time of year. Since the trail is a loop, you’ll catch great views from just about anywhere.
The day we hit the trail, the explorers were in the mood for a leisurely stroll. So we turned our “hike” into a nature walk. The kids hunted for moss, sticks, pinecones, flowers of various colors – whatever held their interest from one stretch of trail to the next.
I love that the trail is wide, flat and relatively risk-free. In other words, I can let the little explorer run down trail for a bit without worrying that he’ll fall off the edge or trip on an unseen tree branch or rocks. Which is why this spot gets bonus points for being great for new walkers, toddlers and preschool age kids.
Oh, and don’t let all the gorgeous flowers distract you from my favorite part of this walk: the trees. Take a look up every now and again to remind you just how amazing these giant beauties are.
Tips for Visiting With Kids
- Turn the “hike” into a nature walk. We challenged the explorers and their friends to look for certain things (like moss, sticks & scat), count things (like shades of green) and listen for certain noises (the wind, birds).
- Let ’em run. This trail is graced with many a long, flat stretch that begs to be run on. No worries about steep fall offs or rocky trails here.
- Wawona Meadow Loop is an easy 3.5-mile trail
- Trail terrain is an unpaved fire road that is not stroller friendly
- Crowds on this trail are virtually non-existent; the path is shared with horses, though (which you’re more likely to see than hikers)
- Loop can be completed in a less than two hours at a brisk pace or a portion of it can serve as a spot for a snails’-paced nature walk
- The best times to take this trail are spring/early summer (when the wildflowers are in full bloom) & fall (when the leaves are turning); summer can get warm & buggy
- There are no bathrooms or portable toilets at or along the trail; the closest are across the street at the Wawona Hotel
- Pets & bikes are permitted
- There is a snack shop at the Wawona Hotel
- Free parking is available at the Wawona Hotel across the street from the trailhead
Finding the Wawona Meadow Loop Trail
From the south entrance to Yosemite National Park, head left toward Wawona. Look for the Wawona Hotel about 4.5 miles from the entrance. (From Yosemite Valley, take Highway 41 toward Wawona; the trek is about 20 miles.)
The trailhead is directly across the road from the Wawona Hotel parking lot. Walk past the golf course until you reach the fire road on your left and look for the Meadow Loop Trail sign.