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Biking in Yosemite and Beyond: 4 Reasons to Bike During Your Yosemite Visit

HomeThings To DoBiking in Yosemite and Beyond: 4 Reasons to Bike During Your Yosemite Visit

Add another dimension to your Yosemite visit by including some biking into your day.

It can take a little planning to bring a bike or rent one while you’re here, but the upfront effort can provide hours of enjoyment during your visit.

Getting a Bike in Yosemite

Before talking about how amazing biking is in Yosemite, let’s make sure that you can get a bike while you’re here.

Of course, if you live nearby you can bring your own.

There are also a few options when it comes to renting a bike in Yosemite.

Yosemite Conservancy Bike Share Program

For a quick spin around the valley during the summer months be sure to check out the Bike Share Program sponsored by Yosemite Conservancy. Since data can be in short supply in Yosemite Valley, we recommend you download the Yosemite Bike Share app (Apple/iOS or Android) ahead of time. This program is meant for short trips only.

Yosemite Valley Bike Rentals

If you’d like to spend more time on a bike, there are two bike rental stands in Yosemite Valley, one in Curry Village and one near Yosemite Valley Lodge. Cruiser bikes with pedal-backward-to-stop brakes are suited to relaxed touring around Yosemite Valley and are convenient to rent once you get to the valley.

Pedal Forward Bikes in Oakhurst

rent bikes at pedal forward

Rent a bike at Pedal Forward to explore Yosemite or take on the trails in the Sierra National Forest. Photo: Pedal Forward

If you’re looking for more of a mountain biking experience with a high-quality bike, consider stopping in Oakhurst – a community outside the park boundary along Highway 140. The owners of Pedal Forward Bikes are fantastic resources on many levels.

You can rent or demo a bike that will be fun to ride (along with a bike rack for your vehicle) or get a tune up for that old bike that you pulled out of the garage. Discover a wealth of information about local trail conditions and chat with locals who can point you in the right direction for technical descents, flowy single track or simply a great place for the family to get out and explore nature.

In fact, Pedal Forward is now offering guided bike rides. Because they know every twist and turn on the area’s mountain biking trails, they can customize a ride just for you. In addition to a memorable ride, you also get to spend the day with a passionate local. Prepare your questions – this is a great way to get an insider’s ideas for the whole rest of your trip.


Reason #1: Biking is Fun and Convenient

Bicycle in Tuolumne Meadows

Biking around with a view of Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows. Photo: Yuli Gotsev

Getting around by bike is faster and easier than walking, but you still get to enjoy the pine-scented breeze on your face, and the sun on your skin. C’mon – it’s just fun to get out there and ride around!

Plus, when you’re on a bike there is no more craning around in the back of a car hoping for a glimpse through the window on the far side of the vehicle. Biking provides a truly panoramic view of Yosemite’s spectacular scenery.

You can also stop whenever you want to. Simply pull to the side of the road or trail and enjoy that exceptional play of light on the waterfall, or view deer grazing in the open meadows. You’ll be free of parking and traffic hassles and on your own program.

If you’re an avid cyclist there are also a few special occasions in Yosemite that you need to keep your eyes and ears open for. Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road close for the winter season. And sometimes when the conditions are right in the spring, they will open to cyclists before they open to cars. When that happens it’s a cyclist’s dream – long stretches of world-famous scenery to pedal past and no motorists to worry about. It can be hard to get the timing right. The opening dates aren’t on a schedule, and the timing varies widely depending on the conditions. The park is trying to get the road open as soon as they can, and if it works out, they’ll open it to bikes a little early. It’s not guaranteed, and there often isn’t much notice, but it’s well worth the attention to have a chance to ride these popular roads sans cars.

Reason #2: Zip Around Yosemite Valley and Wawona by Bike

Yosemite Valley bike rentals

Bike rentals in Yosemite Valley Photo: Theresa Ho

When Yosemite Valley gets busy and parking spots can be hard to come by, a bike is a perfect vehicle for exploring all there is to see and do in Yosemite Valley.

While bikes are not allowed on unpaved trails, Yosemite Valley has more than 12 miles of bike trails linking views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls with interesting galleries, museums, and places to eat. Plus, many of the most popular trailheads have bike racks conveniently placed near the start of the trail.

All of this makes swinging onto a bike an easy way to get from one place to another without having to backtrack to your car or wait for a shuttle bus.

Biking in Wawona

Wawona is much quieter than Yosemite Valley, but bikes are still a fantastic way to explore the community. You can ride to the Chilnualna Fall trailhead, down to the river, over to grab a few essentials at the Pine Tree Market or Wawona Store. The Yosemite History Center buildings are a great way to explore some of Yosemite’s history and, you guessed it, an easy bike ride from your rental cabin.

In Wawona, you can also ride your bike on the Wawona Meadow Loop – one of the few trails in Yosemite where bikes are allowed.

Reason #3: Set Your Own Schedule at the Mariposa Grove


Base of the Grizzly Giant

Giant sequoias are not the tallest trees, but they are the most massive trees in the world, and the diameter of these trees is simply jaw-dropping.

The giant trees at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias are a must-see when visiting Yosemite. Located not far from Wawona, visit trees that are thousands of years old and some of the most massive in the world.

The main parking for the Mariposa Grove is about 2 miles from the lower grove where you will see the first giants. Yes, there is a shuttle bus that fills up at the parking area and takes you up to the lower grove during the summer. But why waste a perfectly good opportunity for a bike ride? Besides, there are several benefits to setting your own schedule and riding instead.

A quiet giant sequoia grove has a way of speaking to you that can get drowned out when there are buses full of other people around – standing in line to take pictures, and chattering as they walk. Adding a bike ride to your day is a great way to put some space between you and everyone else visiting the grove.

You can start earlier in the morning or stay later into the evening than the shuttles run. This is an ideal strategy to have more of these wise old trees to yourself. At the very least, your arrival in the grove is likely to be offset from the shuttle so your first glimpse of a sequoia will not be shoulder to shoulder with other visitors, but in your own time and space.

Bikes are allowed as far as the Grizzly Giant, which means you can ride to the grove’s most famous tree, instead of stopping at the Arrival Plaza where the shuttle buses stop. (It’s about a 2-mile loop from the Arrival Plaza to the Grizzly Giant.) Lock your bike in the rack there, and continue to explore the grove.

Yes, the ride is uphill into the Mariposa Grove. But this means you have a fun and speedy trip back down at the end of the day too.

Reason #4: Mountain biking trails (Bass Lake and Sierra National Forest)

Mountain bike in the snow

There are many options for mountain biking in the Yosemite area. Photo: Yuli Gotsev

Do you love mountain biking? Do yourself a favor and explore some of the region’s amazing mountain biking trails near Bass Lake and in the Sierra National Forest.

For the best information, we’d point you back to our friends at Pedal Forward, located in Oakhurst. They will be your best resource for current trail conditions, and expert local advice.

Family Friendly Biking

For family-friendly biking, you can’t beat the trails near Bass Lake and Fish Camp, just outside the park boundary and about 20 minutes from cabins at The Redwoods In Yosemite. Popular easy and beginner/intermediate trails with gorgeous lake views follow the contours of Bass Lake.

Looking for something more technical?

The 007 trail is one of the most popular in the region for good reason. Choose from several lines to enjoy a combination of technical and flowy terrain, optional jumps, rock gardens and wall rides.

Guided Rides (and Ride to Hikes)

Maximize your riding time by taking a guided bike ride with Pedal Forward. Not only are they experts on trails and trail conditions, they are passionate locals with a wealth of information on the region in general. Take advantage of your time together to enjoy a fun day on bikes, and get the insider scoop on the Yosemite area in general.

Did we mention that you can also do a ride to hike trip to a seldom visited waterfall that you’re likely to have all to yourself?

Happy Biking!

We hope you’ll enjoy adding a bit of biking to your visit. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, give us a shout on social media, or stop in at our front desk in Wawona. And if you do end up going for a ride – let us know how it went. See you soon!