Be aware of real elevation gain and loss.
Gfelsman · San Luis Obispo · June 21, 2019
Just a note to hikers. The actual elevation gain and loss is much more than listed here. The trail descends and climbs over many hills. What is listed is the beginning and ending elevations. Nothing about what is in between.
Challenging, but rewarding views
Kristine · San Diego, CA · June 26, 2018
I read all the reviews here before we did this hike last week, so we were well-prepared. We carry photography packs (mine is close to 20 pounds and my husband's is close to 27 pounds since he carries a tripod and more gear), so we are a bit slower than we would be without the packs. Even without our packs, I would not call this an "easy" hike because of the elevation. There was a lot of downhill, uphill, downhill, uphill throughout, and that 0.7 miles uphill back to the parking area was tough after a long day. We did not go all the way to North Dome, but were happy with the views from above it. I'm not sure how much farther it was to North Dome as we didn't see any signs, but it still looked to be another mile with downhill and some steep uphill to the top of the dome. The view of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Illilouette Fall were simply amazing and totally worth it! Also, we were very grateful for the tip we saw in one review about the unmarked fork in the trail - I saved a screenshot of the photo posted by that reviewer and it was so helpful!
Reach Out & Touch Half Dome
Sandra · Sonoma County · September 29, 2017
I hiked this trail years ago, but it's one of the most memorable of my many trips to Yosemite.
I've "done" Half Dome (and almost fell off...) and Glacier Point along with several others, but this is my favorite.
The trail isn't particularly strenuous, so it's an easy hike for a morning into afternoon trip, and the best part is the destination.
Across the canyon, it looks like you can reach right out and touch Half Dome. In the other direction, you've got a spectacular, picture-perfect view straight down Yosemite Valley.
Late spring is a good time to go, around the time Tioga Pass Road first opens, so you miss the tourist crowds.
Don't underestimate the elevation change
Alexander S. Kunz · San Diego, CA · September 13, 2017
I did this hike on my first day of a Yosemite vacation in 2015. The description for this hike only mentions the NET elevation change, which is quite misleading. Including the Indian Rock arch the total ascent/descent was around 1800 feet according to my GPS log - three times more than the net change!
Views from North Dome are absolutely splendid and I did not regret doing the hike, but the extended downhill section through the forest is indeed a bit long.
Great but smoky for us
George · Pittsburgh · August 22, 2017
Great hike, definitely a little ways, though, and some ups and downs so be prepared to spend a few hours doing it. You won't want to leave the top of North Dome anyway.
When we were there (Aug 2017), there were some fires in the area and it was quite smoky. Def couldn't see any hikers on Half Dome and could barely see the valley floor through the haze of the smoke. The views in clear conditions must be great because even in the smoke it was enjoyable.
Also maybe it was the smoke but I think we saw a total of 6 people the entire 6 hours or so we spent doing it. This was in Aug in peak season. Maybe it was the smoke but I was on the top of the dome alone for at least 30 minutes.
Overall great hike!
Rebekah Medina · Turlock, CA · July 31, 2017
This is the second time I've done this hike, and I have to say I absolutely loved it both times. It is a very long and strenuous (in some places) hike, but worth the views. The view of Half Dome when you get to the top is simply amazing.
Be sure to wear good shoes (I ended up with blisters on the bottoms of both feet), and knee braces if you have problems with your knees.
I would give this hike a 10 (in some places) as far as difficulty.
Strenuous 18 miles
William C Juenger · St. Louis, Missouri · October 18, 2016
Came up through the upper falls, to Yosemite Point, to North Dome, and back down Snow Creek Trail. 18.1 miles. Started late 10:30 ish, finished about 8pm in the dark. Need to start around 7 or 8 AM. is recommended. Will need at least 2 litres of water and snacks. Trekking poles seriously recommended.
This was a strenuous hike. If you are worn out at the top of upper falls, do not push to North Dome. You need a certain fitness level for this route. Keep in mind when you get to North Dome, it's 10 miles back down. This is where the trekking poles can save your knees on the descent. If you are over 210 lbs, know your knees. Beautiful view, a less traveled path.
North Dome Adventure
Julia Kirkman · Madera CA · September 19, 2015
This is an amazing hike! I am a middle aged woman and hadn't hiked very much at all. The beginning of the hike was easy. It is a well kept trail that meanders through the woods. There is a short stretch that is steep, just before the Indian Rock trailhead. I think the altitude can be a factor and just remember to hike at a pace that works for you. You then continue to hike to the top of the trail, which is not the top of North Dome! Then you look down...wow! There is still a hike down and then you have to switch-back down further. Thanks to the markers and cairns that were in place...it was a little difficult to find the trail at that point. Then it is again a hike up and then you are on the dome! It's hard to focus on the hike at that point because the view of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley are unbelievable! Plan to take a nice long break at the summit and eat lunch! It is worth it! You will need a nice break because the hike back is very tiring. You will have to hike back up the trail to the summit and the trail to Tioga Road is a slow and steady uphill! I have hiked much more since I hiked this trail and I am looking forward to hiking this again! Well worth the effort!
Small crowds and Great view
Allison · Massachusetts · July 22, 2015
We started our hike around 7 in the morning. The first portion is downhill and shaded. it then rises a bit in elevation to gain a ridge. At this point you can start to see views. At the top of the ridge there were a few backcountry campers. The trail is a little hard to follow in this portion (it drops off to the left), keep your eye out for cairns. Some sections within .3 miles of North Dome, you will be on slab which might be tough when wet. We managed to have a few minutes to ourselves on the north dome. On the way back we started to see small, spaced out clusters of people. The distance given by thepark is a lttle off. My garmin gave me 4.5 miles to North dome (9 miles roundtrip).
As for the backpackers we met, they had a beautiful view at their site but no water access and the location was very exposed, which could be tough in bad weather.
David · New Caledonia · June 18, 2015
A small track but with great views when you get out from the forest....don't miss Indian Rock! And don't forget a cap and sunscreen.
Wear Vibram Soles
Todd Cameron · United States · July 21, 2014
I enjoyed the blend of hiking through forests and hiking in the open across granite. I would recommend footwear with great traction because there are some areas of the trail on which you do not want to slip.
Easy hike with incredible views from North Dome
Giri · San Jose, California · July 21, 2014
We hiked the North Dome trail this weekend (July 20, 2014). There was slight rain for the first 3 miles of the hike and I hated it! There is lot of shade during the first 3 miles of the hike. Not much elevation and views until you reach a spot around 2 miles from the trail head. The drizzle and dark clouds added a different and nice view of the hills. After around 3.2 miles, you reach a marker from where you can detour for a .6 mile roundtrip to Indian Rock. You can see Half Dome from this spot. The climb to Indian Rock will be the only elevation gain during the whole hike. The rock formation itself is photography-worthy. You can spend some time there for the views.
Another mile or so, you will reach a vast open area from where you get to see Half Dome in its grandeur and part of the Yosemite Valley. You can either turn around at this point or walk all the way to the North Dome itself. Reason I say this is because there is no proper trail path or marker. Be cautious when it has rained, unless you have proper hiking shoes it can be slippery. Overall, a good hike but not very strenuous.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Another Dave · Nebraska · October 16, 2013
The vast majority of hikers who achieve North Dome do so from the Porcupine Flat trailhead, not from the valley floor. Now I know why.
On a 95 degree day, the Snow Creek Trail borders on masochism. The switchbacks were endless. (The poor guys who built this trail - what did they do to deserve this punishment?) A stream at the top was the (life)saving grace.
The largely uphill and monotonous trail to the natural arch was worth doing, since it's right on the way to North Dome. The view from the dome was spectacular, as are most views in Yosemite.
This hike continued to Yosemite Point (underrated), where a pipe railing prevents a 3200 foot header into Yosemite Valley. The Yosemite Falls Trail is a 3 mile long granite staircase, and will pound the fillings from your teeth. If you're 6 feet tall at the top, you'll be 5 feet tall at the bottom.
All told, North Dome is a worthy goal, and I'd do it again, on a day when heat and dehydration are less of an issue. Any hike that packs this much pain into a single day gets the full 5 star rating.
moderate to difficult with a spectacular yosemite view
By · Modesto · June 17, 2013
I was out to the rim very quickly. Much of the trail moderate climb with descents. The trail tops out on top of a dome. Take a look or follow trail to the left (could be a good endpoint) The hike down to the dome is somewhat difficult, just be careful. Unreal view of Half dome, the valley west and Illilouette falls.
Coming back I was tired. But I took the .3 mi trail to Indian rock. Well worth the steep climb. Tired by the time I got back to my truck... But very satisfied with the effort. More altitude here is why I think I was more tired than my previous hikes out of the valley.
Moderate difficulty hike with a rewarding finish
Jesse Wang · Bay Area, CA · June 10, 2013
As many of the other reviewers commented, this hike is on the easy-moderate side compared to the other challenging hikes at Yosemite (Half Dome, Yosemite Falls).
I arrived in the late afternoon/early evening (6:30pm) for a night hike. The parking lot was about half full at this time, so parking was a non-issue. There is one bathroom at this trailhead, which I declined to use since it was occupied by many bees. While on the subject of insects, I found the mosquitoes pretty aggressive and suffered many bites to my forehead even though it was covered with a folded over bandana. Multiple layers of Off seemed to only be effective for about 30 seconds or so. They didn't give up until after 9:30pm.
There are a few stream crossings along the trail, all in the first half of the trail if I remember correctly. From the trailhead, the first stream is the widest and deepest. Looking at the footprints, it seems many people decided to just walk through the water with wet shoes. There are some large rocks, but you would have to take a risky jump to get to the first one. I headed upstream about 20-30 feet (to the West) and found a fallen log that could be used to cross safely with a small hop at the end. The remaining streams have rocks or other wood debris that can be used to cross safely.
The trail doesn't involve a particularly large amount of climbing, but the elevation does make parts of it a bit difficult and hard to catch breath. I did have to take a couple short pauses to catch my breath. The first mile from the trail head is pretty steep downhill, which only makes the homestretch of the return hike pretty difficult.
As a previous reviewer (Geoff) here mentioned, there is only one portion of the trail that is ambiguous. Make sure to take a look at his posted photos and turn left when you come across it.
The detour to Indian Rock was only 0.3 miles according to the sign, but is a pretty steep climb so it felt a lot longer.
It took me and my buddy about 90 minutes to get to the end, and about 105 minutes to get back. I believe beginner hikers could definitely finish the hike in less than 6 hours, and it would be a nice day trip. The view at the end of the trail is fantastic and definitely worth it!
Kristine Starn · Lafayette, CA · June 1, 2013
Great hike, crowded parking lot. The trail was easy to follow, few places to take wrong turns if not watching (majority of hikers asked if they were going the correct direction). The arch is worth detouring for, I'd rec before going to North Dome. Since not a lot of people know about this hike, those out on it are very friendly and many camping/know Yosemite. The North Dome view is beautiful!!! It's the best view of Yosemite valley in my opinion, great view of Tioga Road scenery.
I'd highly rec this trail ... Site says it's "unscenic" at beginning, shows how spoiled we get with YNP.
I've also done this trail from Yosemite Falls, starting off Tioga Road is funner/less stressful. But other way is a good days workout.
snakes and forks
Geoff · San Francisco · May 28, 2013
This is definitely one of the best hikes in Yosemite, and something you can take anyone of almost any level of fitness. We were greeted by a fairly large rattlesnake right on the trail at the end of indian ridge (~7800\') which woke up both us and the people about 20 minutes behind us, and we almost took a wrong turn, so excitement was had by all.
If you are early in the season, there are number of creek crossings that you have to workaround by going upstream or you're getting wet feet, but nothing too challenging.
Now, as to that wrong turn, we hit an unmarked fork in the trail that mostly instinct got us around:
About 1000 feet after the intersections with the Yosemite falls trail(s), you hit a clearing and a lookout with some boulders. Here the trail forks and you can go either left or right. (http://bit.ly/2JYgDwb)
We didn't follow the trail more than a hundred feet before instinct turned us around, but i have to assume it joins up with one of the yosemite falls trails. Here is a link to the google terrain version:
I guess if you want to explore, it might be an interesting walk...
Jerry Remides · Modesto, California · May 20, 2013
Wanted to try this hike and was amazed at the awesomeness and beauty! We saw a momma bear and her cub while taking photos at the base of Indian Rock. The views from the top of North Dome are breathtaking. If you're a true Yosemite lover get off the valley floor and check out the rest of the Yosemite National Park and wilderness. I have no words to describe what I felt standing in the Indian Rock Arch. By far my favorite hike in the Tioga Road area.
Great Moderate Hike
Mike · Exeter, NH · July 24, 2012
My wife and I did this hike on a rest day before a 24 miler to Donahue Pass and back. It is a reasonable distance for an out of this world view. We did it in August so we were on the trail early to beat the heat. Parking was easy and the trail well marked. We had climbed Half Dome so it was a great perspective on where we had already been. Be sure to check out the arch... it is well worth the extra mile of hiking.
Prettiest Walk I've Seen in Yosemite
Sudro Brown II · Ventura CA · June 30, 2012
The first part of the hike from the road to the bare granite above the actual dome is one of the prettiest woodland walks I've ever done. After that, the views make up for the starkness of the terrain. The dome itself is a slightly terrifying climb for the acrophobic, especially in the wind, but the view of the entirety of Half Dome and the view West through the valley more than compensate. The walk back is tough if you're not in great shape and not acclimated to the high-country air and the last hundred yards are murder, but then you're done and can relax on the car-ride home.
The ends justify the means
Jeff Southwick · Erie, Pa · June 26, 2012
I did this with my son Adam (I'm 66 and Adam is 38) in June, 2012 on a crystal clear, calm day with a gentle breeze and a temp of around 72. It took us 7.2 hrs. with stops for pictures, etc. He'd done this one before but I hadn't. It was a nice walk for most of it with some definite ups and downs thrown in, especially as you neared North Dome. Was it worth it? I would recommend this to ANYONE who can make it there. Just breathtaking. We must have taken 50 pictures just on the Dome, plus others along the way and every one was worth taking. This is a top 3 pick for Yosemite for sure.
A hike with a sting in the tale!
Rosie J · UK · June 9, 2012
This hike promises much and does deliver but if you are not used to long walks at high altitude beware the last mile. The views of course are well worth the effort.
Joel · Turlock, CA · May 22, 2012
My wife and I just took this hike on May 11. We started at 12:00 pm from the trail head, spent an hour at the top of the Dome, and then made it back by 6 pm. The first half of the hike is relatively easy. The only difficult part (in my opinion) is the ascent and descent of Indian Ridge, especially on the return trip. I think we only saw eight people the entire time we were hiking. This is definitely something that we will be doing again!
Love, love, love it!
Marianne Edwards · Ontario Canada · February 28, 2012
Possibly one of our favorite hikes in all of California because it verifies that almost all views of Half Dome are, in fact, illusions.
Directly across from North Dome, the face of Half Dome, seems so close you feel as though you could reach out and touch it until you realize, “wait, could that tiny speck of color on the face be a climber?” Indeed it will take good binoculars to verify your suspicions and you’ll know the truth: Half Dome is one heck of a rock because it’s still much farther away than it looks.
North Dome via Yosemite Falls (better than half dome)
Molla · Southern California · February 14, 2012
In my opinion this hike is HIGHLY under valued! Especially as a day hike via the Yosemite falls trail! Start early just as soon as you can see and finish before night fall with an hour or so on top of "THE DOME". My 13 year old son and I just refer to it as the DOME!! No crowds, many scenic changes, and a BETTER view than half dome! Love this hike. Especially via the falls!!!
Totally worth it!!!
Jeremy · Salinas, CA · September 11, 2011
Going to the North Dome is pretty easy, which makes sense since you're descending 500 plus feet. I hiked it on Labor day weekend 2011, starting at 7:15 am, and the first hikers I saw were .5 miles from North Dome. The views enroute are great, but your jaw will drop when you get to the top of North Dome. I spent about half an hour enjoying the views, taking pictures, video taping, and snacking before starting on the return trip. It provides an awesome new view of Half Dome and the Valley. There is a waterfall off in the distance, but I'm not sure which one it was. I was too tired to do the little Indian rock hike. I figured after seeing what I just saw, it couldn't get any better, although as I'm writing this now, I wish I had taken the time to go see it. I would highly recommend this hike and would do it again if given the chance. So to sum it all up, JUST DO IT!!!!
Incredible Day Hike with Unmatched Views!
Steve · Fremont, CA · September 8, 2011
North Dome is one of the most spectacular spots in Yosemite and has quickly become one of my favorite day hikes. For the relatively easy 8.8 mile roundtrip, the views are unmatched.
The hike begins on the remnants of an old road and for the first few miles it is a very easy stroll in the woods. There is a brief climb at around the 1.5 mile mark as you ascend towards the junction for Indian Rock. It's not much of a climb, but if it's hot weather or you havent hiked much recently, you may feel it a bit. Side Note: I always take the 0.3 mile trail up to Indian Rock after the hike to North Dome. It's a wonderful spot and well worth the detour.
At this junction the trail to North Dome veers to the right (west). It climbs gradually before taking a sharp left, descending into the tree line. Here is where you will start to get your first glimpses of Half Dome in all her splendor. As often as I have done this hike, I still find it hard not to stare off to my left the rest of the way because Half Dome has that magical quality that just says "Look at ME!". So I abide. The Dude would be proud.
Once you get out of the trees and onto open granite you will be able to see both Half and North Domes. North Dome jets off to the lower right. The trail itself heads downward along the granite until you hit the flat and forested area just next to North Dome. A brief climb up the dome itself and there you are...
Half Dome seems impossibly large from here and you can see her entire face...from Yosemite Valley up. To the left is Clouds Rest and Tenaya Canyon and to the right is Yosemite Valley stretching out, with El Cap and Cathedral Rock framing the view. The scale is immense. Enjoy it for a while! There are so many great little spots to settle back, eat lunch, read, write, listen to some music. I never spend less than 2 hours on the Dome itself. If you explore a bit further out on the Dome you will likely have complete solitude if you want it.
The hike back starts with a pretty steady climb - you are uphill almost the whole way back to the Indian Rock junction. If it's hot, this section might wear you down a little. After that, it is downhill or flat except for that last section back to Tioga Road on the old paved road.
As others have noted, it's not as physically demanding as Clouds Rest, but it is a healthy hike with an amazing destination. The crowd factor is generally low as well. A wonderful hike....Enjoy!
Maximum Reward for Moderate Effort
Mitch · Lake Don Pedro California · September 3, 2011
My wife and I just finished this hike and I have to say that this is one of the best bang-for-your-buck hikes in Yosemite. Yes, the first half of the hike is indeed a typical walk in the woods, but the second half is absolutely splendid. This trail blows away the hike to the top of Yosemite Falls...unless you enjoy your trails so packed with people that you feel like you're in a line at Disneyland. Two thumbs way, way up!
don't tell anyone about this hike
Jake · Modesto · August 13, 2011
This hike is way underrated. It isn't as long as Clouds Rest or Half Dome but the views are amazing. For those who love the challenge of a strenuous hike this isn't quite it. I would rate it a five if it was because I do like those challenges. Don't tell everyone about this hike though. The trails might get a little more crowded.
Detbullfrog · washington state · July 16, 2011
Sooo much better than Glacier Point. The views were exqusite and there wasn't a parking lot full of cars with hundreds of people. The snow had just melted and the flowers were blooming in the forest so there was beauty everywhere you looked. It was wonderful.
Fairly easy hike with mild soreness the next day. Our 11 year old daughter had no complaints and all of us loved it. We did however walk down the dome instead of the trail around what I think is the N.E. side and it appeared that would have been easier.