Hikes to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point and The Fissures can be done individually or put together into a 5.2mi/8.4km loop. These two short hikes off of the Glacier Point Road offer exceptional landscape features and great views looking down into Yosemite Valley and north towards the majestic mountains in the Tuolumne Meadows area.
The snow was still melting in shaded spots along the Glacier Point Road in early June. I parked at the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point trailhead and stepped out onto the trail. I had decided to visit Sentinel Dome first, then loop over to Taft Point, so I took a right and headed north.
The terrain is primarily granite which doesn’t provide much for great soil or water retention. The resulting forest is mostly open with hardy vegetation gradually colonizing the landscape.
I moved through this forest admiring the large trees that eek out a living when Sentinel Dome came into view. Its rounded southern exposure doesn’t provide an easy access thus the trail wraps around it to the north end. After a fairly level trail, I came to the junction with the trail that climbs up on to the granite dome.
I climbed the steep, moonscape north aspect with views expanding with every step. The previous winter (2016-2017) saw a high snowpack and some still clung here and needed to be navigated.
At the top, I could see all three sections of Yosemite Falls as they dropped from Upper Yosemite Falls, down through the Middle Cascades, and the final drop of Lower Fall as the creek crashed into Yosemite Valley.
Looking north, I could see Half Dome and the still snow covered peaks of the Cathedral Range towards Tuolumne Meadows. A great metal disc on top of the dome helped identify surrounding summits.
A brief snack and I headed down and wrapped below the west face of the dome and continued south. The trail lost a bit of elevation, then meandered through a variety of forest from fairly wet, dark forests to exposed sections.
Numerous spots provided views looking down into the valley. Once I reached Sentinel Creek, precarious views were abundant where the creek fell as Sentinel Fall.
I crossed the creek and continued on through more forests, past enormous boulders, and a few snow patches. On one patch, a black bear was sprawled out, probably cooling off in the coolness of the snow before sauntering off.
Eventually I met up with the Taft Point trail where I followed it down to a wide open area that shoots out into the valley. I passed The Fissures, massive gashes in the rock that knife down deep into the granite. Taft Point is the tip of this outcropping where a metal railing allows for you to reach the edge and really appreciate the views from this precipice.
After soaking in the views, I turned around and headed back, passing the junction to return to my car.
Both hikes lead to wonderful features with varying views. For those with a fear of heights, Taft Point can still be enjoyed by staying away from the edge. If you have time, the loop is a great hike near the much too busy Glacier Point.