This trail leads in a loop around the western Yosemite Valley floor. It provides excellent views of Bridalveil Falls, Cathedral Spires, the Merced River valley and El Capitan. The trail can be accessed from various parking areas in the western portion of the valley. Bridalveil Falls parking area is used as the starting point, due to the large number of parking spaces available.
Begin the hike by leaving from the eastern part of the parking lot on a paved trail. The trail splits after a few minutes of walking. To see Bridalveil Falls follow the short paved tread to the right. To continue along the loop follow the trail to the left. This way follows the route of the old Wawona road, and you will recognize it by its broad path.
The trail crosses several branches of Bridalveil Creek then leads eastward around the northern flank of Cathedral Rock. A short spur trail leads to the left as the trail climbs Cathedral Moraine to the base of Cathedral Rock. At the high point of the moraine look across the valley for views of El Capitan.
Continuing eastward the trail ascends to the northeastern face of Cathedral Rock, then descends to a level area and Southside Road. The trail crosses the road at a turnout where there are good views of Cathedral Spires. The trail leads northwestward across the river plain north of El Capitan Bridge.
From the bridge walk a short distance along Northside Road or the river trail. The trail crosses the road and leads westward along an old road. Within a half mile you'll notice a trail leading northward, which is a climber's access to the nose of El Capitan.
Approximately one mile from the Northside Road crossing the trail forks. A single track leads westward and the abandoned road leads southwestward. The trail leads northwestward to Crystal Creek and another trail junction. You can take this to avoid traffic. The road leads along the base of El Capitan near the Northside Road and through a parking area with great views of climbers.
Continuing westward you'll reach a short dirt road take this to the right, which joins the trail leading to Crystal Creek. The trail leads westward, descending to the Northside Road and a vista of Bridalveil Falls. Continue along the trail and the base of the Rockslides formation for approximately a mile. The trail will reach Valley View Overlook then cross the Merced river plain. From the Valley View Overlook walk southeastward following the river bank. It is approximately one mile back to the Bridalveil Falls parking area.
Directions from Arch Rock Entrance: Follow Highway 140 eastward along the Merced River. Approximately 6.5 miles from the entrance the road splits forming a loop around the Yosemite Valley portion of the park. Follow the road along the right fork and make a quick left into the Bridalveil Falls parking area.
Mid-April through Mid-December
(NOTE: Trail may be slippery from mist during the Winter and Fall.)