Inspiration Point is an awesome viewpoint in Yosemite National Park, California.
The early morning drive from Mariposa is a scenic, twisting, rollercoaster ride on good highway through brilliantly colored, desert canyons. The ride passes through Midpines, Briceburg and El Portal on the drive adjacent to the Merced River. At the detour on Hwy 140, around the rock slide, the stop and wait is adjacent to ancient rocks at roadside as the sun is beginning to creep down the nearby canyon wall.
Rather than enter Yosemite Valley, crossing the Merced River on Pohono Bridge loops back past Bridalveil Fall and up Wawona Road to the Inspiration Point trail-head at the upper parking level of Tunnel View on the east end of Wawona Tunnel. The trail-head is signed and begins at a set of stone steps, then gains elevation aggressively on switchbacks.
The hike on Pohono Trail from Discovery View at Wawona Tunnel climbs 1,000 ft (304.8 m) over 1¹⁄₃ miles (2.1 KM) to Inspiration Point, a rocky outcropping at 5,395 ft (1644 m).
The hiking trail is a portion of the Old Wawona Road, a centuries-old Indian Route used by horse, wagon and stagecoach between 1875 and 1933 before the Wawona Tunnel opened. The climb is consistent through forest and massive glacial erratic boulders, typical of Yosemite terrain.
Crossing the Old Wawona Road which travels east to Artist Point near Artist Creek on the way down to Yosemite Valley is when a thick, metal, wire-wound cable is encountered for the first time. The continue ascent on tight switchbacksleads up the steep side of Wawona Mountain above Wawona Tunnel for a view east from Inspiration Point along Yosemite Valley 1,000 ft (305 m) above Tunnel/Discovery View. It is interesting to note Artist Point is above Tunnel View and below Old Inspiration Point for a similar view of Yosemite Valley from different elevations.
There are trail junctions at the top where the Pohono Trail travels west along the top of the south wall above Yosemite Valley for phenomenal views along the way at Stanford Point, Crocker Point, Dewey Point to Glacier Point, Taft Point and beyond. It is intuitively mandatory to take time for relaxation at the awe-inspiring view from Inspiration Point to the east over Yosemite Valley.
There is evidence of old infrastructure near Inspiration Point from the very beginnings of Yosemite National Park when the Pohono Trail was used by horses and wagons. The mostly hidden, large, steel cable stretches across the summit of Inspiration Point and surfaces periodically.
Does anyone know what this heavy cable was used for?
Descent is via the same way taken in. There are spectacular views over Yosemite Valley along the trail as the reverse hike on switchbacks descends through mixed forest and massive boulders.
The hike to Inspiration Point has historical depth and, like most trails in Yosemite National Park, can be extended to many alternative destinations. The number of options here is typically substantial.
One of the great frustrations in Yosemite National Park is that, within a limited time frame, so many options and opportunities will be left behind. The adventure in Yosemite National Park will end soon, knowing there are hundreds of kilometers of spectacular trail which we could not hike on this mission due to restrictions of time.
At this point in life, it is also a reminder that life is finite and becoming much more limited. So little time and so much to do.