Located along the long and meandering Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows is the crown jewel of Yosemite high country, and this large high-elevation meadow serves as the gateway for many backcountry adventures from day hiking, backpacking, and climbing. Tuolumne Meadows has a small visitor center, a supply store, lodge, and campground, but they are all seasonal and very rustic compared to the amenities in touristy Yosemite Valley. One of the many pleasant and fairly easy hikes in the area is the hike to Dog Lake and Lembert Dome. Dog Lake is a tranquil alpine lake surrounded by grassy banks and open views, and Lembert Dome is the nearby granite formation whose imposing vertical face looks over Tioga Road. A hike to either or both makes for a great day in the high country.
|Easy to moderately strenuous day hike
|Tuolumne Meadows trailheads along Tioga Road
|4-6 hours for total loop hike (1-3 hours if visiting just one landmark)
|6.8 miles for total loop hike (~3 miles total if visiting just one landmark)
|580-ft ascent from Tuolumne Meadows to Dog Lake, another 270-ft up to summit of Lembert Dome
|Lembert Dome Trailhead: 8600'
Dog Lake: 9180'
Summit of Lembert Dome: 9449'
|Summer to autumn (whenever Tioga Road is open for the season and the route is not covered in snow)
The Lembert Dome trailhead and parking lot are located right off of Tioga Road in the Tuolumne Meadows area (roughly 8 miles east of Tenaya Lake and 7 miles west of the Tioga Pass entrance). The large "Lembert Dome" parking sign makes this trailhead very easy to find, but the lot always gets filled up early in the day, so be prepared to hunt for parking in nearby areas. Park well off of the road, do not block any side roads, and please obey any "no parking" signs. Several alternate lots can be found along the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Road; see map below.
From the Lembert Dome parking lot, the hike to Dog Lake is a pretty easy affair. The trail heads north into the pleasant forested meadow and then makes a gradual ascent up the slope surrounding Lembert Dome. After 1.3 miles of hiking, you arrive at the grassy banks of pleasant Dog Lake. A trail continues along the south side of the Lake and then fades out, but you can easily stroll around the entire perimeter of the lake, although some spots may be swampy.
Visiting Lembert Dome is a bit more strenuous. The main trail loops around to the east side of the dome and while a trail to the top isn't shown on many maps, there is an official sign and trail-of-use that follows the ridge line up to the top. As you approach the summit, you will clear the line of trees and see the intimidating and bare granite formation. Visiting the summit block requires a bit of scrambling, so those with balance issues or a fear of heights may choose to wait below. From the summit, you can scramble down and continue further to get a wonderful open view of Tuolumne Meadows to the west. Take great care as the steepness of the dome can get treacherous if you wander too far from the summit block.
For your return hike, you could go back the way you came or continue down to Tuolumne Meadows and do a nice loop following the trail through the along Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Road. The grassy meadows and a view of the Tuolumne River make this section a pleasant experience.
Two scenic landmarks, including an easy peak with a killer view, in one relatively short hike? Wonderful! This really is a pleasant hike, but finding parking may be the most difficult part of this hike if you hit the area on a busy touristy day. Once you hit the trail, the crowds thin out.