Dog-Friendly Hikes in Yosemite

If hiking with your dog in Yosemite is on your bucket list, we have great news – there are several dog-friendly hikes in Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park offers stunning hikes and exploration areas for you and your furry friend, but knowing the rules and choosing the right path is crucial for your safety and your pet’s.

With Firefall Ranch as your basecamp, you’ll have miles and miles of national forests and trails with far fewer crowds and friendly staff that can help point you and your doggo in the right direction.

Read on and learn more about hiking with your dog in Yosemite! 

Top Dog-Friendly Hikes in Yosemite

Lower Yosemite Fall Trail

1 mile loop | Elevation gain approx. 50 feet | Easy | 30 minutes

This one-mile paved loop trail takes you to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall. Let your pup enjoy a cool misting spray from the falls and take in the dramatic views from the base of this 320-foot tall waterfall. Peak flows for Lower Yosemite Fall are in April and May.

Bridalveil Fall Trail

0.5 mile loop | Elevation gain approx. 80 feet | Easy | 20 minutes

Bridalveil Fall Trail is an excellent trail for year round hiking, thanks to a wetland area above the fall that keeps the fall flowing throughout the year with slowly-released snowmelt and rain. The fall is the strongest in early spring. No matter when you visit, you’ll be treated to incredible views of one of Yosemite’s most iconic waterfalls – and you can share the whole experience with your pup.

Mirror Lake Trail

2 miles to the lake and back – dogs not allowed on Mirror Lake Loop | Elevation gain approx. 100 feet | Easy to Moderate | 1 hour 

This trail is a paved service road that leads directly to Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake is low (and still gorgeous) much of the year, but shines in spring and early summer when fresh snowmelt flows through Tenaya Creek and fills the lake. When the water is calm, you’ll see where Mirror Lake got its name – the lake offers stunning reflections of the surrounding granite cliffs and alpine greenery. You can enjoy the trail up to Mirror Lake with your dog, keeping in mind that dogs are not allowed on the unpaved loop around the lake that begins at the end of the paved path.

Additional Dog-Friendly Activities in Yosemite

Looking for more dog-friendly activities in Yosemite? Stanislaus National Forest is a haven for outdoor adventure and your dog doesn’t have to miss out. Dogs must be on a leash or otherwise restrained, and pets are not allowed in swimming areas or water supplies. Dogs are welcome on paved paths and other sign-designated places in Stanislaus – check out these tips for being a good canine camper, straight from the forest!

Dog-Friendly Accommodations at Firefall Ranch

Firefall Ranch Guest Cottage Exterior (Tracy Barbutes)

Newly-opened Firefall Ranch is proud to be dog-friendly! This basecamp for your Yosemite adventure is outfitted with modern amenities and striking design flourishes, plus additional amenities for your four-legged friends. The majority of The Ranch’s 300 acres are available for dogs to play on-leash, letting them explore the grounds with fewer restrictions than inside the park. Additionally, the “Doggie Daily” plan at Firefall Ranch includes the following complimentary pet amenities: 

  • Water bowls
  • Spacious + comfy pet crates
  • Dog beds

Select dog food*, treats, and toys are available for purchase at Firefall Ranch’s General Store, along with trail snacks, ready-made meals, souvenirs, and other essentials for human companions. 

*Remember that dog food is bear food! Store your dog’s food and even food-scented toys the same way you store your own food to avoid bears being drawn to the area. 

Pets are welcome inside your cottage or villa at Firefall Ranch, as well as on the deck of your cottage or villa when accompanied by you. Pets cannot be left unattended for any length of time. Pets are also welcome at the Tavern’s outdoor dining area on their leashes.

Tips for Hiking with Dogs in Yosemite

Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and flea/tick preventative before embarking on your dog-friendly trip to Yosemite, and don’t forget to pack their gear! Hiking essentials for dogs include their harness and leash with your contact information easily readable, a water bowl, and bags for waste. 

Make sure you bring more water than you think you’ll need when hiking with your dog – in addition to your own water, your dog will likely drink more during their adventure due to high elevations and activity levels. It’s also a good idea to include dog-friendly items in your first aid kit in case of minor cuts and scrapes. If you’re missing something in your first aid kit, you can pick up select items at Firefall’s General Store.

Yosemite National Park’s Dog-Friendly Regulations

If you’re visiting Yosemite with your dog, follow all of the park’s rules and regulations. Pets are only allowed in Yosemite on fully paved roads, sidewalks, and paths. Owners are responsible for cleaning up and disposing of waste in trash receptacles – the “pack it in, pack it out” principle absolutely applies in the case of pet waste. Pets are allowed in the following areas:

  • Developed areas
  • On fully paved roads, bicycle paths, and sidewalks, except where signage states otherwise
  • In all campgrounds except walk-in campgrounds and group campsites
  • Carlon Road from the trailhead to Hodgdon Meadow
  • Big Oak Flat Road from Hodgdon Meadow to Tuolumne Grove parking lot

Pets are not allowed in Yosemite in the following areas, even if being carried, in a stroller, a backpack, etc.:

  • On trails, including the trail to Vernal Fall
  • On unplowed roads covered in snow
  • In undeveloped and wilderness areas, including meadows and fields
  • In public buildings
  • On shuttle buses
  • In lodging areas
  • In all walk-in and group campsites, including Camp 4
  • In any other areas designated by signage – read EVERY sign you see in Yosemite for your safety!

Leash Laws in Yosemite

In areas where dogs are allowed, they absolutely must be restrained on a leash no more than 6 feet long, or otherwise physically restrained. Leashed pets cannot be left unattended for any length of time. Pets must be on their leash at all times in Yosemite National Park. These regulations protect both pets and Yosemite’s wildlife from disease and from each other, and keep the park safe for everyone.

Ready to enjoy a dog-friendly adventure in Yosemite? Book your stay at Firefall Ranch and discover the wonders of this incredible location together! 

Frequently Asked Questions about Dog Friendly Hikes in Yosemite

Ready to explore the great outdoors with your furry friend? Get answers to your questions about hiking with your dog in Yosemite, including trails where dogs are allowed, where to stay in Yosemite with your dog, and more. 

Can you bring dogs on hikes in Yosemite?

There are some hikes in Yosemite where dogs are allowed. The top dog-friendly Yosemite hikes are the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, Bridalveil Fall Trail, and the Mirror Lake Trail. Always follow posted rules and trail signage. 

Is it worth going to Yosemite with a dog?

If your dog is an adventurer like you, bringing them to Yosemite is worth it! There are dog friendly accommodations and activities in Yosemite so you can enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend in tow. 

Are dogs allowed at El Capitan Yosemite?

While dogs are not allowed on the majority of trails in Yosemite, that doesn’t mean they have to miss out seeing El Capitan! Leashed dogs are welcome in El Capitan Meadow, which lets visitors see the stunning granite mountain from below. 

Are dogs allowed on Yosemite Mist Trail?

Dogs are not allowed on Yosemite Mist Trail. The terrain can be slippery and difficult even for people to navigate, and it isn’t safe for your pup or local wildlife for them to visit. If you want to see one of the park’s waterfalls with your pet, we recommend the paved Bridalveil Fall Trail. 

Things to Do Near Yosemite: Golf, Rainbow Pools & More

Looking for things to do near Yosemite? From classic Yosemite activities like hiking the Carlon Falls Trail to unexpected fun at the pristine Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course and miles of natural beauty to explore in between, there is no shortage of fun things to do near Yosemite. 

Check out these top destinations and things to do near Yosemite during your next trip!

Columbia State Historic Park

  • 11259 Jackson Street, Columbia, CA 95310
  • 35 miles from Firefall Ranch
  • Take CA-120 to Jacksonville Rd., then turn left on Algerine Rd. In 1 mile, turn left onto Campo Seco Rd. Turn right onto Third Ave, right onto Ninth St., and then left onto Sierra Ave. Follow directional signage to Columbia State Historic Park, about 6.6 miles.

Columbia State Historic Park is a great spot for families and groups to visit near Yosemite. This National Historic Landmark is a fully immersive experience that preserves historic downtown Columbia, which features almost 30 buildings that were constructed during the California Gold Rush – and the town still functions just like it would have in the 1850s, complete with actors in period dress and operating businesses. 

The restored buildings in Columbia State Historic Park include a handmade candy store, a blacksmith, restaurants, and a museum, plus the famous tea room Columbia Kate’s – where you’ll often catch guests in full hiking gear stopping by for a cup and donning one of Kate’s fancy hats while they enjoy their tea and snacks. 

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

  • 10501 Reservoir Road, Jamestown, CA 95327
  • 29 miles from Firefall Ranch
  • Take CA-120 to turn right onto Jacksonville Rd., and left onto Algerine Road in 8.5 miles. In one mile, turn right onto Campo Seco Rd., then a slight left turn onto Seco St. 0.7 miles later, turn right onto Third Ave, right onto Tenth St., and another slight left turn. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is on your right.

Located in the heart of California’s Gold Country, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park offers seasonal excursion train rides behind a historic steam or diesel locomotive through the breathtaking landscapes surrounding Jamestown. Trains are typically pulled by the 1265 diesel locomotive, taking you on a 6-mile, 45-minute round trip train ride. After your ride, enjoy a picnic or sightseeing on the historic grounds and spend the rest of your day soaking in the scenes of California’s Gold Country with your group.

Altocumulous Clouds Stanislaus National Forest

Stanislaus National Forest

  • Firefall Ranch is surrounded by Stanislaus National Forest on all sides!

Stanislaus National Forest offers over 1,000 miles of hiking trails, nearly 80 lakes, and over 800 miles of streams and rivers to explore – truly endless wide open spaces. From hiking and backpacking to see spectacular views and sparkling lakes to white water rafting and horseback riding, there are plenty of things to do in this area near Yosemite. Stanislaus National Forest is also home to the Carson-Iceberg, Emigrant, and Mokelumne Wilderness Areas. 

Groveland Historical Downtown

  • Groveland, CA 95321
  • 7.7 miles from Firefall Ranch
  • Take a left onto CA-120. In 7.4 miles, turn left onto Back St. Follow directional signage for downtown parking, shopping, and other things to do in Groveland.

Visit beautiful downtown Groveland and enjoy this historic region that played a key role in the California Gold Rush. The best-known attraction in downtown Groveland is the Iron Door Saloon, which opened as a saloon in 1896 and still operates today serving up delicious pork ribs, burgers, and more. Downtown Groveland is home to the Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum, Mountain Sage Nursery and bake shop, Tangled Hearts Bakery & Cafe (open seasonally), and Kevin and Randi’s Old-Fashioned Meat Market. 

Groveland is also a hotspot for mountain biking, with the Groveland Trail Heads club making it easy and safe to access well-maintained trails that feature varying elevation levels and difficulties.

Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course and Airport

  • 12765 Mueller Dr., Groveland, CA 95321
  • 9.1 miles from Firefall Ranch
  • Take a left onto CA-120. In 7.2 miles, turn right onto Ferretti Rd. then in 1.3 miles a right onto Mueller Drive. In 0.3 miles, turn right, then take a sharp right turn. You’ll arrive at Pine Mountain Lake Golf Club and Course.

With over 300 sunny days annually and an expansive 18-hole course, the Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course is a top destination near Yosemite. This par 70 course offers everything golfers of any level could want from a round of golf in a classic setting with plenty of fun challenges and beautiful scenery. Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course near Yosemite also offers clinics, golf lessons, club rentals and club storage, golf carts, pull carts, and more to enhance your Yosemite golf experience!

Want to take your Yosemite experience over the top? Soar over the Sierras with a Yosemite flight tour, which takes off from the Pine Mountain Lake Airport, for a truly unparalleled view of the stunning scenery like alpine lakes and rivers, waterfalls, and mountain ranges. Book your Yosemite flight tour with Firefall’s sister property, Rush Creek Lodge!

Family posing for a picture at the Rainbow Pool in Yosemite National Park.

Rainbow Pool Day Use Area

  • CA-120, Groveland, CA 95321
  • 6.5 miles from Firefall Ranch
  • Take a right onto CA-120. In 6.1 miles, turn right, and the Rainbow Pool Day Use Area is on your left in 0.2 miles.

One of the most popular things to do near Yosemite is visiting Rainbow Pool. Located off Old Hwy 20, this swimming area near Yosemite features a large waterfall and several smaller falls, with plenty of access to wade into the water from shore if you don’t want to take on the jump from the top of the fall! Folks also gather to swim and splash above the falls. Rainbow Pool is cool, clear, and perfectly refreshing after a day of hiking and exploring Yosemite. Be advised that the river rocks can be slippery – be careful while you enjoy this fun attraction near Yosemite.

Cherry Lake

  • Forest Route 1N04, Groveland, CA 95321
  • 33 miles from Firefall Ranch
  • Take a right onto CA-120 from Firefall Ranch. In 6.4 miles, turn left onto Cherry Lake Rd. Stay on Cherry Lake Road until you reach the parking area.

Visit the largest lake in Stanislaus National Forest, Cherry Lake, for fishing, hiking, and spectacular whitewater rafting on Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek is a Class V whitewater rapid creek, with 15 rapids generated by the river’s steep drop of over 100 vertical feet per mile. Hikers can access Andresen Mine Trail, a moderate 4.5 mile hike, from Cherry Lake, as well as North Mountain Trail, a difficult 3 mile trail that climbs over 2,500 feet in elevation. Cherry Lake is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

Don’t want to take on Cherry Creek alone? Head out with knowledge provided by the friendly faces at Rush Creek Lodge’s recreation desk. They’ll provide free planning advice for your Yosemite adventure, with plenty of maps and ideas for groups of all sizes!

Carlon Falls in Yosemite National Park (Mark F. May 2023).

Carlon Falls Trail

  • 32158 Evergreen Rd., Groveland, CA 95321
  • 17 miles from Firefall Ranch
  • Turn right onto CA-120. In 15 miles, turn left onto Evergreen Road. In 1 mile, the destination is on your right.

This two mile hike that follows the Tuolumne River is a Yosemite classic. Visitors park at the trailhead in Stanislaus National Forest, and cross the threshold into Yosemite National Park after a short walk, then are treated to a “choose your own adventure” kind of trail – you can stop and admire any of the falls in this stunning series of waterfalls, and hike as far as you want along the Tuolumne River. This trail feels tucked away and magical, offering countless perfect places to have a famous Yosemite Moment for yourself!

Firefall Ranch Yosemite outdoor pool area (photo by Tracy Barbutes).

Frequently Asked Questions About Things to Do Near Yosemite

Planning your Yosemite trip? Check out these frequently asked questions about things to do near Yosemite, asked by fellow travelers just like you. 

What else is around Yosemite?

Aside from Yosemite National Park, what else is around Yosemite? Visitors love nearby attractions like the Rainbow Pools, Railtown Historic State Park, Stanislaus National Forest, and Columbia Historic State Park. 

What should I do after visiting Yosemite?

After visiting Yosemite, there are plenty of things to do nearby. Guests at Firefall Ranch can enjoy time at the ranch, with daily activities from the recreation team, outdoor fun and games, and visits to sister property Rush Creek’s luxurious spa. Nearby, check out downtown Sonora – this newly-revitalized area features a brand new generation of retailers, restaurants, and local shops to enjoy near Yosemite. 

Are there any other national parks near Yosemite?

There are other national parks near Yosemite, including Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. 

From rich historical experiences and cultural immersion to stunning nature hikes and heart-pounding whitewater rafting, there are plenty of fun things to do near Yosemite. After a day of exploration and fun, Firefall Ranch offers a serene retreat with a range of amenities and activities to enhance your Yosemite experience. Book your stay now and get ready for a trip full of exploration, excitement, and relaxation. 

How to Plan a Yosemite Trip

Yosemite National Park is a world famous destination for good reason. Renowned for stunning landscapes, iconic landmarks, and diverse wildlife, there is so much to see and do in this 1,169-square mile park – so how do you plan a Yosemite trip?

Rainbow Over Tuolumne Meadows (Robb Hirsch)
Rainbow over Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park Essentials

When you’re ready to visit Yosemite, consider what you want out of your trip. The park experiences a range of weather patterns throughout the year, from hot summer and mild spring to chilly fall and snowy winter, and each season presents unique opportunities for exploration. 

Summer is the best time to visit Yosemite for hiking, with warm and dry weather creating the ideal conditions for outdoor activities like hiking in addition to swimming, rock climbing, and more. 

Spring in Yosemite is great for slow-paced wildflower spotting and white water rafting – two very different ends of the adventure spectrum! Spring marks the beginning of Yosemite’s largest wildflower bloom, which takes several months to complete. Snowmelt contributes to the rushing rivers and magnificent waterfalls, carrying power and beauty from Yosemite’s mountaintops. 

Visiting Yosemite in fall is ideal for long-haul hikes, as the cooler temperatures and vibrant fall colors transform the park into an autumnal wonderland. Fall is also peak rock climbing season in Yosemite, so keep your eyes peeled for climbers moving up and down iconic sights like Half Dome and El Capitan. 

Winter in Yosemite means snow and snow sports! Some trails throughout the park are accessible via snowshoe, a fun and unique way to see the park blanketed in snow. Visitors also love to ski and snow tube in Yosemite during the winter months.

Firefall Ranch King Room, Sitting Area Queen Sofa Bed, Indoor/Outdoor Fireplace and Deck (Tracy Barbutes)
Cabin interior at Firefall Ranch.

Find Your Yosemite Lodging

Lodging in Yosemite ranges from rustic campsites to cozy cabins. Firefall Ranch, brand new in Spring 2024, offers comfortable accommodations near Yosemite National Park that are “fine but not fussy,” the perfect blend of mountain charm and thoughtful modern touches.

Choose from a variety of one- and two- bedroom cottages or 3-bedroom villas spread across a 300-acre mountain resort. Each unit centers around a picturesque living room with a fireplace and private deck, and is warmly furnished with comfy bedding, custom artwork, Alexa devices, gourmet coffee brewers, heated bathroom floors, and more.

Group Picnic at Hetch Hetchy (Kim Carroll).
Group picnic at Hetch Hetchy.

Planning Your Yosemite Activities

Get an insider’s look at Yosemite when you leave the planning to the experts. The experienced guides at Rush Creek Lodge and Evergreen Lodge lead tours through many areas of the park, both iconic sights and hidden gems. These Yosemite hikes and tours give you a backstage pass to Yosemite, from plane rides in the air high above to Jeep tours deep in the Valley. Browse the full selection of Yosemite guided tours.

Youth Hiking North Rim of Yosemite Valley
Group hiking north rim of Yosemite Valley.

Gear and Clothing Must Haves

Your choice of gear depends on the time of year you visit Yosemite – although you should bring your swimsuit in winter to enjoy the sauna, hot tubs, and heated pools at the lodges. For summer trips, utilize light layers and don’t forget your sunscreen, hat, and plenty of water. Cool weather trips to Yosemite require waterproof clothing to protect you against the snow, and insulated hiking boots. Bring these items along year round:

  • Hiking essentials, like your trail maps, compass and GPS, and sturdy hiking boots
  • Safety gear, like a flashlight or headlamp, multi-tool, and first aid kit
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent

No matter when you visit Yosemite, bring your sense of adventure and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. From guided tours to leisure at the lodges, there are countless ways to experience this bucket list destination in California – get started and plan your trip to Yosemite today at Firefall Ranch.

Frequently Asked Questions about Planning a Yosemite Trip

Get the most out of your Yosemite trip with the answers to the most frequently asked questions about planning a trip to this stunning national park. 

How many days should you spend in Yosemite?

Most visitors spend two to four days in Yosemite, affording you time to see the area’s highlights and leaving room for a little spontaneity. You can maximize your time in Yosemite with a Yosemite guided tour to hit the park’s most iconic sights. 

What is the best month to visit Yosemite?

The best month to visit Yosemite is relative depending on what you need out of your trip. Summer is the best time to visit Yosemite for hiking, with warm and dry weather creating the ideal conditions for outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, swimming, and more. 

Spring is great for wildflower spotting and seeing waterfalls, plus white-water rafting. Snowmelt contributes to rushing rivers and magnificent waterfalls during this time of year. 

Visiting Yosemite in the fall is best for longer hikes, with cooler temperatures and autumnal scenery turning the park into a fall wonderland. Fall is also peak rock climbing season, with October fondly called “Rocktober” by the locals. 

Winter in Yosemite brings snow, snow, and more snow! Enjoy the fresh powder on snowshoes, skis, or a tube, and then retire to your cozy cottage at Firefall Ranch to warm up in front of your very own gas fireplace.

Where should I go for my first time in Yosemite?

If it’s your first time in Yosemite, we recommend hitting the highlights with a guided trip to make the most of your time. This two-in-one Yosemite Valley and giant sequoia naturalist hike from Firefall Ranch showcases Yosemite Valley’s icons like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and the Merced River. 

What is the best way to experience Yosemite?

The best way to experience Yosemite is by simply getting out there! Hike, swim, and explore the area. Looking for a unique way to see Yosemite? Try a flight tour – these tours put visitors high above Yosemite National Park for sights that you just can’t get from the ground.