Spectacular Views from North Dome

Half Dome from North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Half Dome from North Dome

Last week I posted about hiking to Indian Rock, which happens to be Yosemite National Park’s “only” arch.  Not so very much further down the trail (and it really is down!) is North Dome.  It’s a great place to look down on the valley, not to mention one of the few places where you’re just about level with Half Dome, which is less than 1.5 miles away (as the crow flies).  With the view of Vernal Falls and Clouds Rest, this is quite a spectacular view!

Looking toward Clouds Rest and the snowy Sierras from North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Looking toward Clouds Rest and the snowy Sierras

From the junction with the Indian Rock Trail, continue straight rather than turning toward Indian Rock (or if you’re coming down from the arch, turn left instead of right back toward the parking lot).  The trail meanders, mostly flat, for 0.6 miles along the ridgeline; at this point it looks like the trail splits.  Actually, the official trail goes left, while there is a very nice viewpoint out on the classic Yosemite curving rock to the right.

 


 

The snowy Sierras from the viewpoint along the North Dome Trail in Yosemite National Park, California

The snowy Sierras from the viewpoint

Now you have a choice – well, you really should look at the view no matter what, but you have a choice on how you want to hike from here down to the next trail junction.  First, you could take the official trail (about 0.25 miles longer, but you have a trail and are more in the forest).

Peek-a-boo views from the trail to North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Peek-a-boo views from the trail

Second, you could simply walk down the rock from the viewpoint (shorter, but totally exposed and with a better view).  The choice is really up to you.  I went down the trail and up the rock.

Part of the North Dome Trail below the trail junction in Yosemite National Park, California

Part of the trail below the trail junction

Whichever way you go, end up at a trail junction signed for Yosemite Valley 0.9 (0.7) miles later, in a lone stand of trees.  Turn left to follow the trail sidewise across the rock and down a kind of crack in the rock and into a pine forest.

The final push up North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

The final push up North Dome

Except for slight rock scrambles, the next excitement comes about a half mile later, when the trail suddenly starts uphill.  You’re now climbing North Dome Proper, and views of Half Dome open up on the left.

A really cool dead tree along the final push up North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

A really cool dead tree along the final push up the dome

At about 2.1 miles from the Indian Rock Junction, arrive at the top of North Dome.  Views from here are spectacular of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and the Sierras.  We wandered a bit further down the dome and discovered fantastic views toward Vernal Falls, Half Dome (even more!), and down into the valley.  It’s the kind of view I can stare at for hours!

Looking down on Vernal Falls on North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Looking down on Vernal Falls

But we had to get back to the trailhead (ah, the problems with day hikes), so all too soon we ate a snack and headed back via the rock slope up to the viewpoint.  I’d guess it was an easier hike up than via the trail, but it’s really up to you…

A dead tree makes a great foreground to views from North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

A dead tree makes a great foreground to views from North Dome

Round Trip Trail Length: 11 miles with Indian Rock, closer to 10.4 miles without the side trail to the arch

Net Elevation Gain: 581ft.

Facilities: Primitive restrooms at the trailhead

Fees: $30 per vehicle, valid 7 days.  Yosemite Annual and America the Beautiful Interagency Passes (Annual, Access, Senior, Military, 4th Grader, Volunteer) also accepted.

Trail Notes: The trail is down, down, down, then up, up, up, then down, down, down.  So while none of it is terribly steep, be ready for a calf-buster.  Many people backpack to North Dome and vicinity.

A shoe-shaped rock on North Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

A shoe-shaped rock on North Dome. See that arch? I knew Indian Rock couldn’t be the only arch in the park!

Trail ★★★☆☆

Road ★★★★☆

Signs ★★★★☆

Scenery ★★★★★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Looking down Yosemite Valley from North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Looking down Yosemite Valley

Key GPS Coordinates for North Dome

Indian Rock Trail Junction: 37.7755778°, -119.5565000°W (37°46’32.08″N, -119°33’23.40″W / 37°46.53467’N, -119°33.39000’W) (8,108ft.) (3.31; return 3.97) (Left to Indian Rock)

Viewpoint #2: 37.7670389°, -119.5583917°W (37°46’1.34″N, -119°33’30.21″W (8,042ft.) (4.6)

Yosemite Valley Junction: 37.7670389°N, -119.5583917°W (37°45’41.10″N, -119°33’36.91″W / 37°46.02233’N, -119°33.50350’W) (7,637ft.) (5.5) (Go left)

North Dome: 37.7567972°N, -119.5599583°W (37°45’24.47″N, -119°33’35.85″W / 37°45.40783’N, -119°33.59750’W) (7,552ft.) (Arrived 6.1, left 6.4)

Regain Trail: 37.7682750°N, -119.5576583°W (37°46’5.79″N, -119°33’27.57″W / 37°46.09650’N, -119°33.45950’W) (8,006ft.) (7.7)

The sheer height of Half Dome from North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

The sheer height of Half Dome

The gpx file for Indian Rock and North Dome can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 234.0 KB Downloaded 3 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

A raven takes its leisure on a rock atop North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

A raven takes its leisure on a rock

Getting to the North Dome Trailhead

From Lee Vining (US-395 on the east side of the park), turn west onto the road into Yosemite, more technically known as the Tioga Pass Road.  Signs should point toward Tioga Pass and Yosemite National Park.  Drive 33.7 miles to the trailhead for Porcupine Creek, on left.

Close up of Vernal Falls from North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Close up of Vernal Falls

From the El Portal Road in the Valley or coming from El Portal, turn onto Big Flat Road toward CA-120 and Tioga Pass.  After 9.5 miles, turn right in Crain Flat, following signs for Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass.  Drive 24.9 miles to the Porcupine Creek Trailhead, on right.

Clouds Rest and the upper reaches of Yosemite Valley from North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Clouds Rest and the upper reaches of Yosemite Valley from North Dome

The parking area is none too large.  I recommend getting their fairly early during the summer months (I think we pulled in about 8am on a Saturday of a holiday weekend, and there were still parking spaces, which there weren’t when we returned about 5pm).

Visual trail map of my hike from Indian Rock down to North Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Visual trail map of my hike from Indian Rock down to North Dome

This Week’s Featured Product!

I used this book to plan my trip to Yosemite – as well as on the trail – and it covers a wide variety of trails, including Indian Rock and North Dome.  It’s one of the best national park hiking guides I’ve run across.

 

Top Trails: Yosemite: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone (Top Trails: Must-Do Hikes) (Paperback)


List Price: $18.95 USD
New From: $8.12 USD In Stock
Used from: $1.53 USD In Stock

 

 

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