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Hiking Bridalveil Creek and McGurk Meadow Trails in Search of August Wildflowers

I had missed out hiking in the Bridalveil Creek area when the wildflowers were going full blast but a couple of friends told me that I was not too late and they were sure right. Fireweed was getting ready to take over the wildflower show and it is always cool to spot a bear!

Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 7.41 Miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Range: 6,873′ – 7,085′
Date: August 22, 2019
Maps: El Capitan, Merced Peak Topographic Quad Maps
Dog Hike? No

I drove up Glacier Point Road about eight miles to the sign that points to Bridalveil Campground and parked across the street at the McGurk Meadows Trailhead parking area. I didn’t know if the mosquitoes would be an issue but did a preemptive bug spray down. I stashed my coffee mug, ice chest and other smelly items in the bear box and walked up the road to the Ostrander Lake Trailhead.

After using the nice clean restroom, I headed up the trail. I don’t know what the temperature was on this early morning, guessing mid 40’s but I could see my breath . . . and I was wearing shorts.

The lupine had obviously been putting on quite a show but had pretty much closed up shop for the summer. Their purple flowers had faded to white but were still very pretty.

Other flowers such as paintbrush were casting an autumn feel to the trail.

Coffeeberry fruits are a wild food for many of Yosemite’s animals, including bears, deer and birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was surprised to see lots of fireweed starting to bloom and even more getting ready to. Some other ares are going to be masses of pink in another week or so.

When I reached the trail junction, I followed the sign to Bridalveil Creek Campground.

 

 

 

 

 

The trail soon crossed Bridalveil Creek and it was easy to cross on the rocks but earlier in the year when there is more water flowing, it might require water shoes or wading. Of course, if your need an excuse to wade or take a break here, I won’t argue with you.

 

I continued following the signs to Bridalveil Creek Campground.

The asters were starting to fade but many were still looking perky.

 

 

 

By 10, the bugs had started going to work.

I soon reached the trailhead at Bridalveil Creek Campground near the horse campsites then walked down the campground road to Glacier Point Road.

Bigelow’s Sneezeweed’s bright yellow colors sure stood out in areas along the campground road.

 

 

 

I headed across the street to the McGurke Meadow Trailhead parking, ditched my long sleeved shirt and headed toward McGurke Meadow.

 

 

 

 

Blooming wildflowers were few and far between on this trail but I was curious what the meadow might look like. Maybe it will yield some color.

 

 

I passed by the McGurk Cabin on the way. It was the seasonal home of Jack McGurk from 1895 to 1897, who was the third owner of this property. The original owner had filed for 160 acres, but the description in the county records indicated a claim in the next township, six miles away. McGurk built a cabin here but he was forced off the land by the US Army in 1897 when the invalid patent was discovered. The log cabin is a one-room structure, about 14 feet square, with saddle-notched peeled lodgepole pine logs. The only opening is a low door on the south side. The cabin was stabilized in 1958 by Sierra Club volunteers and it is one of the few structures left in the park that remain from the pre-park era. The cabin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 4, 1979. I did a bit of research on Jack McGurk on a prior blog and you can read more about him in that here.

As the view of McGurk Meadow began to open up before me, I had my camera out and was thinking of how I could best frame the picture then took my shot . . .click. Then I heard a “whoomf” beside me to my left. I had startled a bear who was nibbling down on coffeeberry. Since I had my camera in my hand I took a quick picture then started backing up the way I had come in, giving it space to do its thing.

The bear went right back to eating and from the distance that I had moved back, the only pictures I could get of it then were back and butt shots. I thought about doing a tight crop of the picture so you could better see the bear but decided this was a good opportunity to help show that we should keep our distance from these wild animals and try not to interrupt their wild routine, giving them plenty of escape areas should they feel the need to use them.

I headed back to the car. I was expecting there to be many more people on these trails and was surprised that the only people that I saw on the Bridalveil side of the road were 2 Rangers who had just started out from the campground trailhead and on the McGurk Meadow Trail, 2 people when I was almost back to the car. I blame that on good luck and don’t think I could get that lucky again during summer on these trails that are so close to the campground.

Dog Hike? No, dogs are not allowed on this trail in Yosemite National Park.

Doarama:

What is a Doarama?  It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Bridalveil Creek Doarama

Map and Profile:

Bridalveil Creek Hike Topographic Map

Bridalveil Creek Hike Profile

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Hiking Bridalveil Creek Area with Wildflowers July 24, 2017

Hiking to Sentinel Dome, Taft Point and McGurk Meadow June 16, 2016

Lazy Camping at Bridalveil Campground August 3, 2013

Sources:

Yosemite National Park Campgrounds

Bridalveil Creek Trail NPS

Bridalveil Creek Trail All Trails

McGurk Meadow Trail NPS

About Candace Gregory

2 comments

  1. Thank you very much for that morning temperature notation – it’s extremely helpful! 🙂

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