A Great Day Hike or Backpack Adventure to North Dome

Are you making a Bucket list of Hikes you wish to complete in Yosemite?  Or maybe looking for a great day hike adventure for the family? Then take our advice and add North Dome to that list of must-do hikes in Yosemite National Park.

Then take our advice and add North Dome to that list of must-do hikes in Yosemite National Park.

There are prettier hiking trails with better on trail views in Yosemite National Park, however, you will be very hard pressed to find a location with the final destination view of North Dome.  The Lasting Impression of  going face to face with Half Dome, all while taking in the vast 360 views of Yosemite High Country and looking down into the Yosemite Valley and all the business it holds from over a 1000 feet below is breathtaking.  You might find the most difficult part is leaving.

Trail Location:

Porcupine Flats Trail Head is located off HWY 120. Roadside parking with bathroom facilities are available.

The Trail Experience:

The Trail to North Dome is also one of the routes to American Falls, India Arch, & Yosemite Valley, so it is very well traveled and at the beginning follows an old road or path wide enough for ATV vehicles. Note this first part is all downhill, not you will have to walk back up to get to your car.

After the trail levels out most of your experience for the first half is a great forest hike which has several small hills that you will traverse. about half way you will reach a lookout location, not marked but easily seen as the crowds have made a distinct path to a cropping of Rocks that act as a perch for the vista.  From here you can see the start of Yosemite Valley, old burn scars on the hillside across and the unfortunate effects of beetle kill in our National Parks.

From this point, the trail will test you with its first big climb of the experience. Nothing too bad just a long slow climb up the side of the mountain. The next point of interest in brings you to India Rock, this is a .03 mile climb to a must-see feature, on this trail. We advise doing this on the way so that you are fresh and not too tired to try on the way back.

Indian Rock Yosemite

The climb to Indian Rock is Steep. Follow the trail to the right and go around the front of the Arch for the easiest route. This will take you all the way around to the back where with a little rock climbing skills you can hoist yourself up into the Arch for a great look at Half Dome.

After Exploring and most likely shooting a variety of photos from Indian Rock the final stretch  to North Dome is pretty exposed and the scenery really starts to feature looks at Half Dome and the opening skyline in Yosemite.

Once you reach the top of the trailhead, you will wonder if you are indeed on Noth Dome or if you need to walk down this granite hillside to a lower point roughly half-mile ahead.  Yes, indeed Half Dome is the furthest little nob you will see from the peak.  The slope down this hill is not exactly gentle and once again you will find that the climb back out is grueling for most. However, the views at NorthDome are worth the effort.  There are actually two declines in this section before once again ascending the final stages of North Dome and the spectacular 360 views of the Yosemite High Country and Half Dome.

The Dome Experience:

North Dome is unique in the fact that you seem to be able to get as close to the edge as you feel comfortable. Being more dome like the edge continues to fall away from you and your views become less 360 and more extreme as you look down. Safety is always recommended as the granite slab can also be slick and footing a bit tricky.

From the Top of North Dome you, of course, have the wonderful 360 view of Yosemite High Country, but the face to face view of Half Dome screams for a pair of binoculars as it is a bit fun to locate  the Half Dome Hikers up on top or try and spy a rock climber going up Half Dome. There are several piles of Rocks to sit on or prop yourself up against as you sit and take in your surroundings.  However very little shade and a bit gusty at times from the wind, you need to bring a hat or sunscreen to protect yourself from extended time on the rock.