Submitted By: Kylie Chappell, Outdoor Adventures Coordinator
This short but steep hike takes you up to a historic viewpoint where you can enjoy amazing views of Yosemite Valley. It’s only a mile to hike up to Inspiration Point, but there’s no break in the steady ascent to about 4,600’ elevation. You’ll recognize the spot when the trail levels off - you'll see an expanse of old pavement and a steel trail sign with distances to Glacier Point. Once you’re there, walk across the remnants of the old parking lot to locate a spot where you can see down the length of Yosemite Valley to Half Dome. Trees have grown up into some of the view but it’s still one of the planet’s more astounding sights. It’s much like the Tunnel View panorama but you’re way above the noise of cars and buses and quite likely to have it all to yourself.
Park in the uphill lot at Tunnel View (off Highway 41) just west of Yosemite Valley before entering the tunnel. The trailhead starts with a set of granite stairs from near the center of the parking lot. Bear-proof food lockers are located at the trailhead and the nearest restroom is a mile down the road at Bridalveil Fall parking lot.
Tips for the Trail
If you’re a backpacker you can get a Wilderness permit and camp here. A small stream is found just to the east of Inspiration Point into the start of summer.
If you have more energy you can keep walking up the Pohono Trail to Stanford then Crocker Points, or you can walk further up along an interesting piece of park history. Part of the walk encounters the old wagon road from Wawona, built by hundreds of Chinese workers in 1875. It’s fun to imagine travelers in the old days coming to this view and staying a while.
For variety you can walk back by starting down the old Wawona Road to where it crosses your original trail again. Be aware that it’s not maintained and there may be downed trees.