Picturesque Soda Springs are near Parsons Lodge in Yosemite National Park, California, USA.
After completing hikes to the summit of Lembert Dome and the shores of the pristine, sub-alpine Dog Lake, there is one more short, interesting hike to do near the east end of Tuolumne Meadows without moving the car from the very busy parking area.
A short, straight, northwest, gravel, stretch of road is plugged with parked cars along one side. At the end of the short road is an equally jammed parking area and a gate with a trail-head sign for the hike to Soda Springs, the Parsons Memorial Lodge and the McCauley Cabin.
Most of the parked cars are for folks doing the multi-day hike on the Glen Aulin Trail. I am told it is an awesome experience.
The Soda Springs trail is a round trip of 1½ miles (2.4 KM) and elevation of about 70 ft (21.3 m) on a pleasant walk into Tuolumne Meadows with a wooden bridge crossing over Tuolumne River.
This hiking trail is also the beginning of the substantially more aggressive, world-renowned and spectacular Glen Aulin Trail along the transcendental Tuolumne River.
The infamous and popular trail pass rapids, cascading waterfalls and crystal pools to terminate at Waterwheel Falls 12.0 miles (19.2 KM one-way) later. Most of the vehicles en route are lined up on this beautiful Friday to backpack the Glen Aulin Trail over the weekend.
Backpacking permits are required. Pets and firearms are prohibited. Good grief.
The Glen Aulin Trail is outside our scope of operation for this mission but Soda Springs is near the beginning. It becomes visible soon in a very colorful surrounding of mineral saturated ground.
Unicorn Peak is prominently visible in the background. Naturally carbonated water bubbles from several springs clustered in brilliant, rusty-red soil enhanced with white salt borders.
The primary cluster of springs is sheltered within the reconstruction of an old log cabin which was originally built here by Jean (John) Baptiste Lembert in 1889 as a winter dwelling.
A short distance further is the stone and timber Parsons Memorial Lodge built in 1915 by the Sierra Club.
The building's namesake is Edward Taylor Parsons (1861 - 1914), an early Sierra Club high mountain adventure guide who campaigned with John Muir to save Hetch Hetchy. Nearby Parsons Lodge was constructed in his memory.
Just to the south of the Parsons Memorial Lodge is the McCauley Cabin, a pioneer cabin constructed in 1897. Following Jean Baptiste Lembert's death, the McCauley brothers purchased his land in 1897 to use for pasture.
Subsequently the land was acquired in 1912 by the Sierra Club. The McCauley Cabin has been necessity upgraded and is currently used as a Ranger cabin and meeting room.
From the location of the Parsons Memorial Lodge and McCauley Cabin there is a breathtaking view of Tuolumne Meadows with Tuolumne River running through it.
The original intent was to return on the trail and road used for access, but after visiting the beautiful stone bridge over the Tuolumne River, the decision is made to hike back along the north shore of the river.
It is a good decision. The beauty of this river is magical.
Lembert Dome, which was ascended at the beginning of this day is frequently visible on the hike above the shoreline of the twisting, breathtakingly beautiful Tuolumne River on the return hike to the parking area.
Prior to leaving the Tuolumne Meadows area to return to Lee Vining for the final night of accommodation, the short drive west on Tioga Road (Hwy 120) to the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center seems sensible since the facility is one of the nerve centers for east Yosemite National Park.
Nearby is a Gas Station and Store, a huge campground, the Wilderness Center, a Post Office and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge.
The Visitor Center is a historic building constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp. (CCC).
The return to Lee Vining, California follows a remarkable and memorable day of hiking in the High Sierra of Yosemite National Park, California, USA.