The trailhead is 24.8 miles from Crane Flat on Tioga Road at the Porcupine Flat parking area on the right. If you are coming from Tioga Pass, the trail is 14 miles west of Tuolumne Meadows.
The trail follows an old road down to Porcupine Creek, where a rock hop or log crossing is necessary to get across the creek. Once you have crossed the creek, the trail begins to narrow as you hike through a forest of red fir and lodgepole pines. At 1.5 miles, take the right fork toward Snow Creek. At this point in the hike, the trail begins to descend steeply following the Porcupine Creek stream drainage. The shade of the trees and the creek close by cause this area to be cooler than the trail you were just on. When the trail turns sharply right, the trail begins to follow Snow Creek. Continue to follow this trail through white firs and other evergreen trees until you reach the bridge at Snow Creek.
Once you have reached the Snow Creek Trail, take time to enjoy the views. Leave the main trail about 250 feet from the trail junction, and hike out across the open area toward Half Dome
. You'll reach a point where the opposite side of Tenaya Canyon is in full, unobstructed view. Clouds Rest
, Quarter Domes, and Half Dome
rise in front of you while Mount Watkins rises to your left.
There aren't large crowds, just the occasional hiker either coming from Yosemite Valley headed toward Tuolumne Meadows or others like yourself enjoying a more isolated hike in the woods. It's a popular camping site in the summer, with the swimming hole providing a great place to relax (and ready water supply) and plenty of spots with great views.
Return to your car via the same trail, or choose to hike to Yosemite Valley via the Mirror Lake Trail
if you were dropped off at the trailhead. If returning to your car, give yourself plenty of time to get back as the climb is uphill until you intersect the North Dome
Bear, deer, squirrels, and ground squirrels are found in this area. If you are camping overnight, heed bear warnings as bears in this area have been known to steel canisters and throw them over the ledge to get into them.