Sentinel Dome & Taft Point Loop Hike
I have been meaning to post about Curtis & I’s hike to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point since late June. We hiked this one on June 20th, on a rare weekday day hike. The trek was not very intense, but provided some of the best views of far eastern mountains that we have ever seen while inside of the park. If we had to choose one over the other, personally we both preferred the vistas from Sentinel Dome best, but the pictures of each other from Taft point made that portion of the trip neat as well. Perhaps that is why the combo of the two short hike destinations are so compelling – One to remind you that vast mountains are but molehills under the sky, and that other to capture that feeling on film.
Hiking Sentinel Dome and Taft Point, Yosemite
Trailhead: A small parking lot for the combined trailheads are located about 12 miles up Glacier Point Rd (map). We ended parking on a pullout instead a ways up the road, which was tricky in the low clearance Focus.
Distance: We hiked a loop, instead of two out and backs, which ended up being 6.25 miles in distance (further than doing the two out and backs).
We arbitrary choose to start our hike by going to the right out to Sentinel Dome first. Given that it was mid afternoon on a Thursday by the time we started it was not super busy, but during peak times I can easily imagine this trail becoming packed. Despite that I believe that if you only had a short period of time in the park or limited hiking abilities (if you can slowly hike up the granite dome at least) I would recommend the 2.2 miles (there and back) trip. This maybe the most vast view of the mountains I have ever seen in the “front country” of the park, and the stories you can hear up there as every backcountry hiker reminisces about this mountain or that are really worth some eavesdropping.
^^^Video of the panorama views from Sentinel Dome + bird songs from our hike^^^
After enjoying a beer we descended and traveled on to the left to loop around the back of Sentinel Dome. Although using this trail extended the length of our hike by a couple of miles this is one of those trails that I consider fully worth the extra hike. Why? Because there are moments in Yosemite when you are surrounded by people, like we were on Sentinel Dome (and Taft Point) but if you continue just slightly down the trial you will find yourself completely alone. The contrast allows me to enjoy the solitude even more, really hearing the birds and enjoy the hike.
Taft point, once we arrived there, is a nice little area to explore. My favorite picture of me was taken by Curtis who was on Taft point while I was a ways away on some other rocks (second photo on this post). The cover photos for this blog post is of Curtis (the red dot) at Taft point, taken by me on the same cliff.
One last note – the ground squirrels at Sentinel Dome & Taft Point are super scavengers! Watch your packs, and be prepared to defend your lunch. We did spot the cutest chubby little chipmunk on the way down from Sentinel Dome though. Much cuter than the squirrels.