Within walking distance to The Redwoods in Yosemite is the Wawona Meadow Loop (look for dozens of Native American Mortars in the flat rocks overlooking the riparian meadows)!
Wawona Meadow Loop
Distance: 3.5 mile (5.6 km) or 5 mile (8 km) loop
Elevation at trailhead: 4,000 feet (1,220 meters)
Elevation Gain: Practically none for the short loop; around 500 feet (150 meters) for the long loop
Hiking Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
Why Hike the Wawona Meadow Loop? If you think no one could possibly look at a beautiful meadow in the middle of a national park and say, “Hey, let’s put a golf course here!”, you’re mistaken, and here’s your chance to see the proof.
Best Times to Visit: In the spring, when the meadow is green and the wildflowers are blooming, and the autumn, when the trees along the path are turning colors.
Difficulty: 2 out of 10. The trail is wide and smooth. It was paved at one time, and the pavement is gradually disappearing. You’ll have a mild ascent on the first half of the hike and a corresponding descent on the second half.
Crowd Factor: Light. Even on days when traffic is bumper to bumper in the valley and backed up out of sight at the entrance gates, I’ve only run into a handful of other people on this trail.
Scenery Summary: There is a 9-hole golf course here, but things could be worse – the park fathers could have built an 18-hole course and driving range and used up the entire meadow. Instead, the golf course occupies the northwest end of the meadow and the trail loops around the southeast end, and they’re only entangled for a few hundred meters (the satellite view shows clearly what parts of the meadow the golf course occupies). For the most part, you get a pastoral stroll skirting the edges of one of Yosemite’s largest meadows and a pretty tree-lined path (to your left and right, respectively, if you’re hiking anticlockwise), and in the spring and early summer, great gobs of wildflowers.
Because the trail is the residue of a paved road, this is one of the few trails in Yosemite where pets and bicycles are allowed. With its soothing views, low elevation (by Yosemite standards), and near absence of climbing, it’s also one of the best places in the park to go for a run.