The Sierra Nevada is packed with day hikes. Some lead to majestic mountaintops. Others lead to lakes and waterfalls. Whatever your viewing pleasure, no matter how much energy you wish to exert, there's a hike for you.
From Yosemite National Park to the north to Sequoia National Park to the south, here are my personal favorites. Just put one boot in front of the other and go.
Each of these peaks have well-defined trails that lead to panoramic vistas.
Mount Hoffman: Unmarked trail from the south shore of May Lake is steep but easy to follow. Take it from John Muir, who wrote, "From the summit, nearly all the Yosemite Park is displayed like a map."
The Sierra is dotted with thousands of alpine lakes, but a few really stand out.
Eagle Lake: This glacier-carved tarn might be "enhanced" by man (yes, there's a dam), but there's nothing unnatural about the surroundings. The 3.4-mile hike up from Mineral King Valley is almost as pretty as the lake itself.
So you've been sweating on the stair climber. Now test your leg power on these brutes.
Few natural wonders dazzle the eyes like moving water plunging over a precipice.
Vernal/Nevada Falls: Hiking Yosemite's Mist Trail ought to be a requirement for all humans with sturdy knees. The earlier in spring you go, the wetter you'll get.
Chilnualna Falls: This underappreciated classic in southern Yosemite provides both the rush of moving water and great views of Wawona. After a wet winter, the lower cascade really packs a punch.
Mist Falls: On hot days, there's no better place to cool off than this rambunctious cascade along the South Fork of the Kings River. In early season, its spray can be felt from a quarter-mile down the canyon.
Not all hikes have to be lung-busters. These are more like easy strolls.
Mirror Lake: You barely have to walk uphill (or touch dirt) to reach this Yosemite Valley treasure, situated below the sheer face of Half Dome. The best reflection comes from nearby Mount Watkins.