Known as the Gateway to Yosemite, Merced is a small town in the Central Valley of California and is home to UC Merced. A relatively new University in the University of California system, UC Merced opened its doors in 2005. As I attended UC Merced during their Spring semester in 2023, I took full advantage of the Outdoor Experience Program and signed up for multiple hiking trips to Yosemite National Park.
In Spring, the strong Californian sun has yet to melt away the several inches deep of snow piled up over Winter. Thus, dress warmly with proper hiking boots as most hikes are at least 10 miles (~16km) long for the round trip!
Mariposa Grove is home to the famous Giant Sequoia Trees and was a beautiful sight to behold. Stretching several meters tall over our heads, we were all in awe of the beautiful scenery around us. Coupled with the beautiful white snow on the ground, it was a truly magical view.
Beware of your footing when hiking in the snow though! Warm sunshine often turns fluffy white snow into icy mush that makes you slip and fall often!
Another trail I went on was Vernal Falls, which turned out to be a treacherous hike halfway through due to heavy snowfall a few weeks before. Without proper equipment such as ice chains to strap onto your hiking boots, most of us decided to stop halfway through and enjoy a leisurely hike at the foot of the falls instead.
Lastly, Hite Cove Trail is situated along the ride deeper into Yosemite National Park. The trail rolls through the narrow canyon of the south fork of the Merced River. Known for its beautiful wildflowers, the views while hiking will definitely take your breath away.