Yosemite National Park – Panorama Trail

John Muir once declared, “The park is a paradise that makes even the loss of Eden seem insignificant.”  Well-known conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club, Muir worked tirelessly for the establishment of Yosemite National Park. He counselled people to “saunter” not hike, likening it to a pilgrimage through the Holy Land. He claimed, “…these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.” Muir was known for taking his own advice as he sauntered over the trails taking the time “to get acquainted with individual trees along the way.”

Muir knew these mountains intimately. Over the course of his life he probably tramped over more of the park’s vast expanse than any other person, before or since. In his book The Yosemite he describes a hybrid of the Panorama Trail for anyone “so time-poor as to have only one day to spend in Yosemite,” so it was obviously at the top of his list. Muir’s version starts out at three o’clock in the morning (!) with the advice to carry “a pocketful of any sort of dry breakfast stuff.”

Fortunately hikers don’t need to rise so early to savour the best of Muir’s suggested route. Starting from Glacier Point, the trail provides almost non-stop views all the way down to the valley floor as park icons such as the brooding Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Nevada Fall and Liberty Cap reveal themselves in a stunning vista. With typical Muir enthusiasm he advises lingering at Nevada Fall to take in “the stupendous scenery into the heart of which the white passionate river goes wildly thundering, surpassing everything of its kind in the world.”

Photo of Half Dome from the trail by D. Larraine Andrews

Photo of view from Panorama Trail by Lisa P. Freeman