Lyell Canyon Trail Reviews

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Level and easy, but not for fall
 ·  Saratoga, CA  ·  October 19, 2015

I did this hike in late September 2015.

I agree that the hike was mostly level and easy (and therefore suitable for kids or for a first day / acclimation hike), but it was not all that scenic, at least as far as I went, which was to the bridge over Rafferty Creek. Most of the hike seemed to be through forest, with some rock and meadow after the double bridge over the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne. That was a nice scenic spot.

I have to give a warning about the Rafferty creek area... do NOT be seduced by a trail sign that says "Rafferty Creek", with a trail fork heading right. That trail climbs up (and up) and is not the way you want to go. Instead, choose the left hand fork, which is the JMT (the JMT sign is further up that fork), and which will promptly bring you to the bridge over Rafferty Creek. (You can actually catch a glimpse of the bridge coming up the trail, before you come to the fork.)

The Rafferty Creek bridge crossing may be a scenic point of interest under the right conditions, but for me, at this time of year, it was not. The sky was heavily overcast (I got spattered with a few raindrops at the bridge), and the creek was dry. I could see it being pretty during late spring or early summer, though, with the sun shining and the water rushing.

Because of the lateness of the day (and the bit of rain), I made that spot my turnaround point. Back at the parking lot, I was surprised to see that the GPS reported a 4.0 mile trip. While I had gone down to the river right at the start of the trail, and had gone a bit up the wrong trail fork near the Rafferty Creek bridge, in no way should those departures from the trail have added up to 1.0 miles more than the 3.0 miles this site estimates. The GPS *was* reset correctly, and there were no mountains for the signal to bounce off of, so I don't know what's up with that.

Tranquil and lovely water
 ·  Austin, TX  ·  August 6, 2014

While most might find this hike lacking in grandeur, it is one of my favorite hikes in Yosemite. I worked at the park for a summer and went on this hike in July. The water you walk along is composed of some of the most beautiful colors I have ever seen. It must be something to do with it being glacier runoff, or have some other unique reason because it is quite spectacular. Blues, greens, purples- very pretty. You really can stop whenever you feel like it, but I probably went about 3 miles and turned around. This is a great hike for kids- no elevation gain, nice scenery.