Yosemite's Hidden Gems

Kris Corey's CDs point out many Yosemite landmarks, including the Indian village, cemetery, Happy Isles and Curry Village. But Corey is also a fan of Yosemite's hidden gems, places tourists might not often stop.

Here are some of his recommendations. Keep in mind these are fragile ecosystems. Stay on the trail and practice leave-no-trace ethics.

Westfall Meadow

Chances are, you'll have this meadow all to yourself. Plus, it's an easy trail with little climbing.

From Yosemite Valley, take Highway 41 south for 9 miles to the road. From the park's southern entrance, take Highway 41 north for 17 miles. From Glacier Point Road, drive east 7.5 miles to the trailhead.

The trailhead is directly across the road from the McGurk Meadow trailhead, which is marked. The sign for the Westfall Meadow trail is about 20 yards down the trail and can't be seen from the road.

Sunrise Trail

A half-mile walk down a flat trail reveals a giant meadow. There's a trail junction in the boulder-strewn meadow. If you turn left, you'll be on your way to Sunrise High Sierra Camp. If you continue straight for about a mile, you'll be below the granite cliffs of the Olmstead Point area. There's also a tiny, unnamed lake hidden there.

The trailhead is at the west end of Tenaya Lake; look for the lot with the Sunrise sign. Tenaya Lake itself is on the Tioga Pass Road near the eastern end of Yosemite National Park. From Yosemite Valley, take highway 140 northwest for 10 miles up out of the valley to the Crane Flat junction, where Tioga Road begins. Turn here and take Tioga Road 31 miles east to Tenaya Lake.

From Yosemite's eastern entrance at Tioga Pass, take Tioga Road west for 16 miles to the western end of Tenaya Lake.

A Lake near May Lake

Just across from the turnoff for May Lake, there's a pullout with two entrances and a mound of dirt in the middle. Climb the hill near the pullout, walk about 40 yards and discover what Corey calls a "gorgeous little lake."

"Very few people stop there," he said, "and it's literally right on the road."

From Yosemite Valley, go 10 miles on Highway 120 to the Crane Flat turnoff onto Tioga Road, then take Tioga Road 28 miles east to the May Lake turnoff. From Yosemite's east entrance at Tioga Pass, take Tioga Road west 20 miles to the turnoff.

Gaylor Lakes

A steep climb reveals high mountain tundra, lakes and even a rock cabin — a relic of the Great Sierra Mine operation.

From Yosemite Valley, go 10 miles on Highway 120 to the Crane Flat turnoff onto Tioga Road, then take Tioga Road 48 miles east to reach the trailhead, which is just inside the eastern gate. From Yosemite's east entrance at Tioga Pass, the parking lot is on your right, just past the park gate.

Ahwahnee Hotel

Corey's not much for civilization, so he avoided the Ahwahnee for some time. But when he finally stopped by the historic hotel, he was impressed with its architecture and history.

He's spent a bit of time in the bar and learned that it originally was the hotel entrance until people discovered exhaust fumes from cars were filtering into the lobby. The area was enclosed and converted into a "men's bar." The women's restroom was located on the second floor of the hotel so women wouldn't be exposed to the bar's "uncivilized atmosphere."


Related stories from Merced Sun-Star