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Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake is a popular destination in Yosemite National Park, well-known for its picturesque reflections of the surrounding cliffs, including the iconic Half Dome. Situated in Yosemite Valley, this small lake is actually a seasonal pool of water that forms in Tenaya Creek, and it is most prominent in the spring and early summer when the water levels are highest due to melting snow.

Overview of Mirror Lake

Location: In the eastern part of Yosemite Valley, at the base of Half Dome.

Access: The lake can be accessed via a well-maintained trail that is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, including families with children. The trailhead is located a short shuttle ride from the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.

Key Features

Seasonal Water Levels

  • Mirror Lake is most famous in the late spring and early summer when it is fullest. As the season progresses, the water gradually recedes, and by late summer and fall, it can be more of a meandering stream than a lake.

Reflections of Half Dome

  • One of the most striking features of Mirror Lake is its clear reflections of Half Dome and the surrounding cliffs, especially in the calm early mornings or late afternoons.

Activities at Mirror Lake


  • Mirror Lake Loop Trail: This is an easy to moderate hike around the lake that offers beautiful views of the lake and its surroundings. The full loop is about 5 miles, but there is a shorter, 2-mile round-trip option that takes you directly to the lake and back.
  • Accessibility: The first mile of the trail is a paved service road, making it accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. Beyond this point, the trail becomes a standard dirt path.


  • Mirror Lake is a favorite spot for photographers, particularly in the early morning when the water is calmest and the reflections are most vivid.


  • There are several areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a picnic with stunning views of the lake and Half Dome.

Swimming and Water Activities

  • Swimming is allowed in Mirror Lake, although the water can be chilly. Kayaking and rafting are also possible when water levels are sufficient.

Visiting Tips

Best Time to Visit

  • To see Mirror Lake at its fullest, plan to visit in late spring or early summer. This is also when the water reflections tend to be most impressive.

Getting There

  • The easiest way to reach Mirror Lake is via the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle, which stops at the Mirror Lake trailhead.


  • There are basic restroom facilities at the trailhead but no other services directly at the lake, so bring water and any food or snacks you might need.

Environmental Considerations

  • As always in natural areas, follow Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all your trash, stay on designated trails, and respect wildlife.


  • The rocks around the lake can be slippery, so wear sturdy shoes and be cautious, especially if you venture close to the water.


Mirror Lake offers a tranquil escape in the heart of Yosemite Valley, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to see one of the park’s most famous landmarks reflected in its calm waters. Whether you’re looking for an easy family hike, a scenic spot for photography, or a peaceful place to relax, Mirror Lake is a must-visit destination within Yosemite National Park.

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