Olmsted Point Trail Map

Distance:  0.25 miles (0.4 km) round trip
Trailhead Elevation:  8,300 feet (2,500 meters)
Elevation Gain:  100 feet (30 meters)

The little red squiggle near the center of the map is the satisfyingly short and efficient Olmsted Point trail, one of the great values in scenery per square meter. The main thing that keeps it from winning prizes in this category is that most of its views can be had from the parking lot without venturing onto the trail at all.

It's still worthwhile to hike the trail, which takes about as much time as getting a tank of gas or smoking a cigarette, but unless you're doing both at the same time, is infinitely more memorable. You'll see Tenaya Lake to the north, encircled on all sides (except, happily, the one you're looking from) by Polly Dome, Pywiack Dome, and Tenaya Peak. To the south are Clouds Rest and Half Dome. On the slope next to the trailhead are a series of glacial erratics that appear to be waiting for you to turn around so their game of Red Light, Green Light can continue. All told, it should be one of the better ten-minute intervals of your life.