Lower Cathedral Lake, Yosemite National Park

Lower Cathedral Lake

There are several day hikes to pretty, mountain-ringed alpine lakes in Yosemite - May Lake, Elizabeth Lake, and Ostrander Lake are all good examples. The Cathedral Lakes trail, though, stands out not just for its beauty, but for its variety of striking views. You approach Lower Cathedral Lake from the east across a meadow (more of a bog early in the season - consider yourself warned) and reach a pockmarked granite shelf at the lake's eastern edge. Walk along the southern shore, and you'll reach the view shown here. Look back to the west, and you'll see Cathedral Peak rising behind the lake. Walk all the way to the western shore and look over the dropoff there, and you'll see Tenaya Lake far below.