True Colours: Yosemite in Fall

On a recent trip to California, Camilla was lucky enough to spend a full day hiking some of the most scenic and challenging trails in Yosemite National Park.

Spanning almost 760,000 acres, Yosemite is world famous for its plunging waterfalls, towering granite cliffs, beautiful meadows and unusual rock formations. Having heard many stories from colleagues and friends, and seen a load of incredible photos, I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of absolutely everything; the waterfalls, the cliffs, the rivers, the boulders and the even the trees.

After staying the night at one of the cosy log cabins at The Redwoods, we met with our local guide John. California’s active outdoor lifestyle led John to leave his New York life behind and move out West. He moved to Yosemite with his family and set up his guiding company in 2006. Having traversed thousands of miles of trails recreationally, and acted as a guide for small private groups on adventure hiking tours for a number of years, John’s knowledge of the area is incredible.

The Redwoods in Yosemite

The Redwoods in Yosemite

With our day packs stuffed with trail mix, water and lots of tasty snacks, we hiked up the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall and then on to Nevada Fall at almost 6,000 feet. I can only imagine how magnificent the waterfalls must look in spring when the cooling mist and spray from the falls create magnificent rainbows overhead. John led us away from the crowds to one of his favourite spots, where we stopped to eat our packed lunches. This has got to be the highlight of my day; a well-earned lunch break perched on an overhang above Nevada falls and overlooking the treetops!

John told me how Yosemite’s first residents were Native Americans who may have first inhabited the region as many as 10,000 years ago. The area’s most recent tribe named Yosemite Valley “Ahwahnee” or “place of the gaping mouth,” and thus they called themselves the Ahwahneechee. Some of the tracks and trails we followed were old deer and hunting trails from this native American Ahwahneechee tribe, dating back to the mid-1800s.

Jenny and Camilla

Jennie and Camilla

We returned to the valley floor down the John Muir Trail. Despite keeping my eyes peeled for black bears, I didn’t spot any, however my eager wildlife radar was satisfied by sightings of several mule deer, ravens, a grey fox and a chipmunk!

The autumnal colours were stunning, and I was lucky enough to catch the changing leaves at just the right time. The pinks and reds of the dogwood trees, the black oaks now a rich orange, the green conifers, and the big-leaf maples adding splashes of vibrant yellow were picture-perfect. It’s definitely worth taking a good camera with you to capture this seasonal autumn glow, as my iPhone struggled to do it justice.

I found it fascinating learning about how glaciers had sculpted this striking landscape, and witnessing the resulting glacially carved smooth granite domes, craggy peaks, spacious meadows and enormous boulders precariously perched.

The guides really do go above and beyond what you would expect from an ordinary guide, and even come equipped with a gourmet picnic. They help you make the most of the time you have in the park, so that you see all of what you want to see, whilst making a lifelong connection with nature, the outdoors and Yosemite National Park. They will tailor any experience to you and your family for a personalised experience and a deeper understanding of conservation, wildlife and history of the park, and even offer snowshoe adventures, and photography or art workshops high in the hills.

At any time of year, the thrills, adventure and breath-taking scenery will leave you in awe of this true national treasure.

We’ve teamed up with Evergreen Escapes to create extraordinary adventures and experiences in northern California, from the winelands of Sonoma to the Redwood National Park. To find out more, call one of our North America Consultants on 020 8682 5030 or visit

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