Yosemite National Park is a place of such natural beauty that it seems easy to take little notice of the areas that help visitors enjoy their magnificent surroundings. Thankfully, there are those who realize the importance of maintaining these oft-overlooked spots, and a 75-mile trail restoration project in Yosemite has come to completion with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday at the park's East Valley Loop Trail.
The six-year, $13.5-million project -- funded mostly by Yosemite Conservancy doners -- is reportedly the largest trail repair and restoration project ever undertaken in Yosemite.
"Our goal was elegant in its simplicity -- improve the condition of Yosemite's most treasured, high-profile trails in order to protect irreplaceable natural resources," said Yosemite Conservancy president Mike Tollefson.
More than 30 miles of the John Muir Trail, from Tuolumne Meadows through Little Yosemite Valley to Yosemite Valley, had work done. There are new stone walls and rock staircases as well as drainage structures and habitat restoration to improve safety and protect areas bordering the trail.
Restoration and improvements were also made to about half a dozen trailheads along Tioga Road, offering better defined routes to popular locations, safer parking, food storage lockers or wilderness education exhibits.
"Yosemite's trails are pathways to discovery and inspiration. Some of the park's most important trails were improved to reverse years of degradation," said Park superintendent Don Neubacher. "The result is better trails, restored habitats and greater education opportunities for visitors."
Photo: Hikers enjoy the John Muir Trail near Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap in Yosemite National Park. Credit: Keith Walklet