Tuolumne Meadows area offers gateways to high country

In just a mile on level ground, you can reach a spot that can change the way you feel about things for a long time.

From the trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail near Tuolumne Meadows, you can amble north for 20 minutes or so to a pristine meadow sprinkled with lodgepole pine, where a high mountain rim frames your moment in time. Unicorn Peak (10,910 feet), Cathedral Peak (10,940) and Fairview Dome (9,731) poke holes in the sky. Nearby, the Tuolumne River runs clear, cold and pure.

The only sounds are often meadowlarks, nutcrackers and other mountain songbirds singing their love tunes, or the flow of water pouring over rocks. The air tastes light and sweet. It’s enough to make you want to see more.

The Tuolumne Meadows area, perched at an elevation of 8,600 feet on Tioga Road in the high country of Yosemite National Park, features 10 trailheads from Tenaya Lake to Tioga Pass. It is perhaps the best trailhead site in America.

Some lead to places that can feel like they’re yours alone.

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