Southern California residents Jennifer and Greg Johnson call Tenaya Lake “Yosemite’s favorite beach.” Sadly, that popularity has resulted in crowded parking areas, unsafe traffic conditions, unintended harm to fragile ecosystems, shoreline erosion, and unwanted run-off.
Thanks to the Yosemite Conservancy—including members Greg and Jennifer Johnson—this summer will see more than $1.7 million in restoration and improvements to east beach and surrounding wetlands and trails to help the lake endure its own appeal.
Located at an elevation of 8,150 feet, Tenaya Lake is just off Tioga Road, with easy access for summer visitors. It’s a popular launch point for backpackers, who can set out on a number of trails that crisscross the high country.
“People who may not be able to hike to a backcountry lake can still take a short walk to Tenaya Lake and experience the beauty and spirituality of the high country,” says Jennifer Johnson.
The trail from the parking lot to the beach will be relocated so it no longer crosses a fragile wetland, and native willows and other wetland plants will be re-introduced for better soil protection. The new trail will be wheelchair-accessible and include educational signing highlighting the lake’s sensitive ecology, recreational history, and trail options. Picnic areas are being restored, and will include the addition of a long communal table perfect for larger family gatherings.
“The new trailhead will be clearly marked to keep hikers on track and out of sensitive environments,” says Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park’s superintendent. “There will be a sense of arrival at the lakefront where visitors will have special places to relax and share the experience with family and friends.”
The superintendent added that, “The restoration work will address the effects of overuse while preserving the lake’s natural integrity and beauty. At the same time, it will improve accessibility and will make the overall visitor experience even better for an incredibly diverse group of users. Yosemite Conservancy donors make projects like this possible.”
Mike Tollefson, president of Yosemite Conservancy, says, “Tenaya Lake has a captivating natural beauty that charms park visitors young and old alike. Those coming to the east beach area will have an even better high country lake experience as a result of the restoration efforts made possible by our donors.”
The Johnsons “hope that places like Tenaya Lake will be there for future generations and this restoration work will accomplish that.”
The Yosemite Conservancy is one of many "friends groups" making an invaluable contribution to our national parks as federal funding declines for “America’s Best Idea.” Download the Traveler’s first ever magazine dedicated to these groups.
Yosemite Conservancy is the only philanthropic organization dedicated exclusively to the protection and preservation of Yosemite National Park. The Conservancy funds multifaceted projects that restore trails, protect wildlife through scientific research and habitat restoration, and offers outdoor programs.