Curry Village Area Trailheads
Revised August 2001 - please send updates to the webmaster
Hwy 41 goes only a little ways into Yosemite Valley, looping from the north side to the south side and crossing the Merced River near Bridalveil Falls. From there, Hwy 140 continues to Curry Village, which is as far as you can now drive up the valley (the loop to Happy Isles is now closed to private vehicles). Legal overnight parking and backpacker food storage boxes are described below.
Be aware that you are NOT supposed to park overnight in the large part-dirt lot near the Curry Village developed area (where you can rent videos, order beer and pizza, grab a reasonable buffet dinner, or take a shower). It's not a wilderness experience, but it's not luxury like the Ahwahnee Hotel which is just a bit down the canyon on the north side. Both a road map and a topo map with plotted waypoints are below.
Leave Yosemite Valley on Hwy 41 to to to Glacier Point. Stop at Bridal Falls (waypoint BRIDAL) and you can walk under the falls even if it's running. Waypoint DISCOV is the east end of the Wawona Tunnel, which is not only a good viewpoint but also the lower end of the Pohono Trail.
Waypoint GLAJCT is where the Glacier Point Road leaves Hwy 41 and climbs steeply to the Badger Pass Ski Area (waypoint BADGER). In winter you can park free at BADGER and ski or snowshoe out to Glacier Point. The Mono Meadows trailhead (waypoint MONMDW) should not be confused with either the Mono Pass near Tioga Pass or the Mono Pass near Rock Creek.
Finally, the end of the Glacier Point Road (waypoint GLACPT) is slightly uphill from the tourist-infested viewpoint overlooking Curry Village. Come here in winter and spend the night if you want peace and quiet. Or hike up the Four Mile Trail (from waypoint FOURTH) and take a bus back down to the valley. There is also a One Mile Trail, but it's closed because of slides.
From Curry Village (waypoint CURRYV), go east and then south past the tent cabins (NOT back out to Hwy 140). This small road dead ends at the backpacker parking lot (waypoint BACKPP), where you will find over 20 food storage lockers. I have slept beside the car in or near this lot, but it's now clear that is not legal and I'm never there in the height of the summer season. This is the ONLY place where you can legally leave a car overnight without renting a campsite, as far as I know.
From Curry Village (waypoint CURRYV), go back out to the turnoff from Hwy 140 (waypoint CURRYT) and continue east on 140. Turn left at the sign for Upper and Lower Pines Campgrounds (waypoint PINEST) and park at the horse corrals (waypoint CORRAL) if you are day hiking. On foot, you can simply walk cross-country straight from CURRYV to PINEST. The lot at CORRAL does not allow overnight parking. Walk east on the road, and turn north (left) at the next intersection (waypoint TENAYT) which is another road that takes you over the Tenaya River on an auto bridge. Continue north on pavement to Mirror Lake (waypoint MIRROR) and follow signs to the Snow Creek trail along the west side of the river.
From Curry Village (waypoint CURRYV), go east and then south past the tent cabins to the backpacker parking lot (waypoint BACKPP) as described in more detail above. Instead of turning right into the parking area, keep walking southeast on the road until you get to the Merced River bridge near the Happy Isles Nature Center (waypoint HAPPYB). There are several trails branching out from here, so look carefully for signs on both sides of the bridge.
There is a more fully stocked general store (groceries and other supplies) in Yosemite Village (waypoint YOSVIL). Continuing west along the north side of the valley you will find the trailhead for Lower Yosemite Falls (waypoint LYFALL) and the famous Camp 4 parking area (CAMP4P) if you want to camp among the gearheads or just park there to hike around Upper Yosemite Falls (from waypoint UYFALL) which is crowded 365 days per year.