On a recent trip to Yosemite we hiked to Soda Springs. This hike is in the eastern end of Yosemite near the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor’s Center. Because very few people drive over the Tioga Pass to this side of the park, we found a lot more solitude on this hike than on any of the hikes in Yosemite Valley.
Soda Springs starts just across the street and east of the entrance to the Visitor’s Center. The hike has no shade, but it is flat and easy and there is plenty to see. As we walked along we crossed three different streams. Our boys loved looking for trout in the crystal clear water. We spotted several small fish right under the footbridges. There were also ground squirrels, or what some people mistakenly call groundhogs denning on the east side of the trail. Farther along we saw four deer. Three of them were bucks with large antlers still in the velvet. They were laying just across the river, and we were told they are frequent visitors in the area.
After crossing the meadow the trail turns left and follows an old service road. Then it climbs the hill very briefly to a few old buildings. There is a restroom, a room with volunteers talking about the history of the area, and the spring. The volunteers told us that the spring was clean as it came directly out of the ground, but advised us against drinking the water because someone may have contaminated it. They also referred to it as the Perrier of the West. Of course, we got down and hands and knees and drank, and the water tasted just like carbonated water. We recommend taking a cup if you plan to drink.
This hike was easy and fun, and we only saw one other family on the trail. The distance is just 1.0 mile roundtrip. If you’re interested in more hikes in Yosemite check out our list of hikes for kids. You can search any national park in the search box to find other great hikes as well!
If you look up this hike online, it has you start a the Lembert Dome Parking area. We stopped in at the Visitor’s Center and asked a few questions, and found out you start it right by the side of the road. Here’s a screenshot of the map we used. There is room right by this crosswalk for a few cars to park. This is where we began our hike.