The best view in Yosemite: the Sentinel Dome-Taft Point loop trail

20 Aug
2012
Posted in: Best Of, California, Hikes, Parks
By    2 Comments

The most famous view of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park is the vista from Glacier Point. That’s where everyone heads, and you’ve got to see it, but try this first: stop at the Sentinel Dome trailhead and hike the 4.9 mile Sentinel Dome/Taft Point loop trail. Head towards Sentinel Dome first and scramble up its bald, granite head for an amazing, 360 degree view of the granite-coated park. Then descend the dome and continue the loop towards Taft Point, leaving behind 99% of the other people (most only hike to Sentinel Dome and back). At Taft Point, you can stand on the very edge of the valley — you can even lean over the edge, if you trust the metal railing, and look straight down to the valley floor, thousands of feet below. It’s unnerving. What would be even more unnerving: staring over the edge, watching a climber ascend to the point. We spotted anchors in the rock face. It must happen. Yikes!

Yosemite Falls should be right in the center of this picture...if we weren't in a major drought, that is.

Yosemite Falls should be right in the center of this picture…if we weren’t in a major drought, that is.

Paul looking out over the valley.

Paul looking out over the valley.

Half Dome, to the left.

Half Dome, to the left.

Half Dome, to the right.

Half Dome, to the right.

I couldn't stop taking pictures.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

The view behind you on Sentinel Dome. Try not to get so distracted by Half Dome that you forget to turn around.

The view behind you on Sentinel Dome. Try not to get so distracted by Half Dome that you forget to turn around.

Paul and me on Sentinel Dome. It was a little windy. Or maybe I was just saluting the great Half Dome placement in this pic.

Paul and me on Sentinel Dome. It was a little windy. Or maybe I was just saluting the great Half Dome placement in this pic.

Paul looking over the edge of a fissure near Taft Point.

Paul looking over the edge of a fissure near Taft Point.

Me sitting as close to the edge as I could bear.

Me sitting as close to the edge as I could bear.

Paul looking directly over the edge at Taft Point.

Paul looking directly over the edge at Taft Point.

El Capitan from Taft Point.

El Capitan from Taft Point. It looks strange from this angle.

OK, now here’s what you see when you drive on to Glacier Point…

Yosemite Valley and Half Dome from Glacier Point.

Yosemite Valley and Half Dome from Glacier Point.

Yes, the view is amazing, and you can buy ice cream, but you're sharing it with many more people.

Yes, the view is amazing, and you can buy ice cream, but you’re sharing it with many more people.

Before we leave, let's have one last look at Half Dome...

Before we leave, let’s have one last look at Half Dome…

  • Mom

    Great shots!

  • Denise Zitnik

    Awesome, I was hoping someone would know approx. distance of the taft/sentinal loop. FYI though for other visitors, Yosemite Falls is normally dried up by August even in an alright water year. Happy Travels!