Repairing Tenaya Lake’s South Trail At Yosemite National Park

Blair GuildNPF Blog

Tenaya Lake, nicknamed the “jewel of high country,” is an integral part of Yosemite National Park – both ecologically and recreationally. As a part of the Merced River System, it provides water for the park’s plant and animal life, and it affects life far beyond the boundaries of the park, providing fresh drinking and agricultural water for other parts of California.

The lake is also a favorite spot for park visitors. Each year, more than 1 million visitors take in the lake’s natural beauty and enjoy recreational activities like swimming, hiking, fishing, and more.

Still waters among mountains at Tenaya Lake

The trail along the south side of Tenaya Lake is one of the park’s most popular hiking loops. Spanning approximately 3,000 feet, the trail was once used by American Indians as a trade route over the Sierra Nevada.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps made improvements along the Tenaya Lake South Trail, but subsequent years of minimal maintenance, frequent visitor use, and natural forces significantly impacted the trail and its surroundings. As a result, in 2008, the National Park Service assessed the growing maintenance and management needs of the esteemed park feature, and created the Greater Tenaya Lake Area Plan.

The plan, completed in 2011, set out to address the erosion, fragmented wetlands, trail repair, parking congestion, and signage clarification in this area of the park. The plan guides a multi-year process, ensuring the park’s ecological integrity as well as the ability for visitors to appreciate and enjoy Tenaya Lake now and for years to come.

Thanks to support from dedicated national park lovers, the National Park Foundation was able to grant $75,000 to the park in support of the Greater Tenaya Lake Area Plan. Yosemite Conservancy  – the park’s Friends Group – then leveraged the grant to create a match and raise additional funds to address these needs.

 Improvements to park trail, reconstruction of drainage

Between 2013 and 2014, the park rehabilitated the trail on Tenaya Lake’s south shore. The efforts provide much-needed improvements to the trail, including reconstruction of drainage features, rebuilding stone steps, rehabilitation of eroded rock tread, and a complete restoration of a 50-foot long retaining wall.

Trail stairway before and after repairing of stone steps

All of these improvements help protect and preserve Yosemite National Park’s Tenaya Lake and its natural beauty. Thanks to the National Park Foundation’s grant, the generosity of Yosemite Conservancy donors, and the efforts of the National Park Service, the project’s accomplishments will ensure that Tenaya Lake, and Yosemite National Park as a whole, is a better place for all those who visit.

Photo credits: Tenaya Lake and before-and-after images courtesy of Yosemite Conservancy.

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