Merced Grove Trail Satellite View

Hike Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
Trailhead Elevation:  6,000 feet (1,800 meters)
Total Elevation Change:  600 feet/180 meters (downhill to grove, uphill on return)

There's nothing like a satellite view for finding hidden meadows or lakes, or showing off surprising landscape features. Check out the McGurk Meadow view to see the much larger meadow lurking just to the west of the meadow the trail goes through, or Tuolumne Meadows to see the two hidden lakes (it turns out they're sewage treatment ponds), or Half Dome to see a flying saucer's viewpoint of Yosemite's most iconic landmark.

And then there's the Merced Grove satellite view. It tells you, basically, that you'll be hiking through a bunch of trees to see a bunch of larger trees. Given the thickness of the timber, you have to wonder how the grove ever got found in the first place. But it was, in 1833 by the Walker party, which also discovered Yosemite Valley. It was subsequently misplaced (perhaps the most believable part of its history) and rediscovered again in 1858, but apparently soon lost once more, because in 1871 a party surveying for the old Coulterville Road, which passes nearby (the first part of the trail is, in fact, this road), announced the discovery of this same grove of giant trees, which it named the Merced Grove for its proximity to the Merced River. (For more details, see Peter Browning's Yosemite Place Names and 100 Years in Yosemite by Carl Parcher Russell.)