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North Dome Out and Back

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.1 (7) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A hike to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls and out to North Dome for great views of the Valley.


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Map Key

15.5

Miles

24.9

KM

Out and Back

7,600' 2,316 m

High

4,030' 1,228 m

Low

4,760' 1,451 m

Up

4,760' 1,451 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

53%

Max Grade (28°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Difficult in the winter if there is a lot of snow on the ground. Traction devices like microspikes or snowshoes may be required to follow the trail in the snow.

Overview

This hike offers the opportunity to climb out of the Valley and hike along the North Rim, getting away from the crowds below. It's a long, arduous hike but the views from along the rim are breathtaking. The first part of the trail climbs out of the valley, along Upper Yosemite Falls, and finally reaching the top of the Falls. After taking in the views and watching the water go over the edge, the trail goes up to Yosemite Point. Then following the trail along the Rim, it finally ends at North Dome, where spectacular views of Clouds Rest, Half Dome, and Glacier Point await. After taking in the views and getting a bite to eat, you can return to the Valley via the path that you traveled, although now most of your trail is downhill. It's a long day hike, but the views are great and it gets you away from a lot of the crowds in the Valley once you pass Upper Yosemite Falls.

Need to Know

If you are hiking in the summer, especially later in the summer, make sure you fill up your water at Upper Yosemite Falls as most of the other creeks are seasonal and dry up. Sunscreen and a hat are also recommended as much of the trail along the North Rim is exposed, especially when you reach North Dome.

Description

This hike starts on the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. One of Yosemite's oldest historic trails (built 1873 to 1877), the Yosemite Falls Trail leads to the top of North Americas tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet (739 m) above the valley floor. This trail starts near Camp 4, along the Valley Loop Trail, and immediately begins its climb, switchback after switchback, through oak woodland. You'll begin to climb above some trees and into exposed plateaus that offer you a glimpse of what's to come: great views of Yosemite Valley and its many iconic landforms. Do not stray off of the maintained path, as you'll find steep drops adjacent to the trail.

The upper half of the trail is steep and rocky, but the arduous journey is well worth the amazing views you'll be rewarded with at the top. Here you may be surprised by the small size of Yosemite Creek, which feeds this massive waterfall. Use extreme caution when near the creek and remember you are directly above a waterfall. Make sure you take in the views of Yosemite Creek as it plunges over the edge of the North Rim. If it's spring, the roar of the water as it plunges over the edge is breathtaking.

Once you've taken in the view from the precipice, make your way onto Upper Yosemite Falls to North Dome trail to continue your hike. You start up a crest and encounter boulders that are worth climbing around on and taking in the views. The trail descends into a forest of white furs and Jeffrey pines before it bottoms out in a red-fir gully. Indian Canyon Creek provides a chance to get water and resupply before you start climbing out of the canyon. Other creeks on the rim routinely dry up, especially in late July and August.

Once you pass Indian Canyon Creek, the trail begins climbing until you encounter the junction with the Lehamite Creek Trail, a trail that leads to Tioga Road. The hike continues straight ahead as it climbs, steeply at times, over a ridge and then descends to Royal Arch Creek, another seasonal creek. A series of switchbacks carries the trail to the top of Indian Ridge. At this point, Half Dome looms large in front of you and North Dome is down the hill from this junction with Porcupine Creek - North Dome Trail.

Once you have soaked up the incredible views, turn around and head back the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

Jeffrey pine, red-fir, and white fir trees are found throughout the hike. Deer, bear, ground squirrels, and mountain quail have been seen in the area.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

Shared By:

David Hitchcock

Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 7 votes

#2723

Overall
  4.1 from 7 votes
5 Star
43%
4 Star
29%
3 Star
29%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#399

in California

#2,723

Overall
61 Views Last Month
3,044 Since Feb 10, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

14%
0%
14%
0%
71%
0%

Photos

Yosemite Falls with Half Dome in the background.
Jun 2, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Yosemite Falls.
Jun 2, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Half Dome from Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
May 31, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Half Dome and some greenery.
Jun 2, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Yosemite Valley.
Jun 2, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
View of Upper Yosemite Falls from past halfway up the trail.
Jul 31, 2017 near Yosemit…, CA

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Check-Ins

Nov 11, 2019
Kevan Shreve
Forgot about Sunset. Next time start earlier. 15.5mi — 11h 00m
Sep 10, 2019
Collin Towe
Jul 24, 2019
Sophia Barwegen
Jun 20, 2019
Sophia Barwegen
May 31, 2019
William Scott
Trail is covered in tree debris, very hard to follow the trail. Compass or trial app is a must. 18mi — 11h 30m
Aug 27, 2018
Marc Daniel
Only to N. dome
Jul 13, 2018
Crystal Selby
21mi
May 10, 2018
Mickael Williams
50 lb pack hiked about a half mile past Yosemite point and made camp, took 6h30m to do 7 mi. Hiked north dome and back to camp four in 7h to do 13 mi.