Yosemite National Park
Distance: 2 miles Time: 1/2 hours Type: There and back
I write more about Yosemite in the Glacier Point hike (a full day's hike up to Glacier Point and down again from the Valley floor - see here).
This hike is a short, leisurely walk which follows Tenaya Creek in the north-east corner of the Valley to Mirror Lake. On both occasions I have done this walk (in September and October) the lake has been dry so I have not seen the water itself. For that, I have the Ansel Adams photograph of Mirror Lake which hangs in my living room. Given its accessibility, this is one of the more popular walks in the Valley and offers some unique views right beneath Half Dome (which, in October, was blanketed with snow). And despite its popularity, there are plenty of spots along the river and in the trees where you can find some solitude.
The trail-head is a shuttle stop in its own right or can be reached by walking from either the North Pines campground or Half Dome Village. The path initially follows the shuttle road and then winds its way gently along the river edge to the lake. When the lake is empty, you are likely to see some deer on the dry bed (and photographers snapping away at said deer).
If you want to make a longer hike, you can apparently continue on the north side of the river up the hill (eventually connecting with Tioga Road). We could not locate that path, however, and were content with making a short walk and returning the way we came.
Here is a link to a map of the park: