North Dome is one of the more prominent dome formations located far above the northern side of Yosemite Valley and it stands directly across from the face of Half Dome. Hikers who reach the top of North Dome are treated to amazing views in all directions. While you can hike up to North Dome from Yosemite Valley (usually as a strenuous backpacking trip up the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail or Snow Creek Trail), hiking to North Dome from Tioga Road makes for a more manageable day hike through Yosemite's forested high country. Along the way, a side trip to Indian Rock allows hikers to see a beautiful and rare granite arch formation.
The Porcupine Creek Trailhead is located along Tioga Road roughly 1 mile east of the Porcupine Flat Campground and 4.5 miles west of Olmsted Point. (Roadside parking is located on the south side of the road.) Note that while this trailhead is accessible after Tioga Road opens, the trail itself may still be covered in snow and difficult to navigate early in the season. Check conditions with rangers if you are unsure.
|Fairly strenuous day hike
|Porcupine Creek Trailhead off of Tioga Road
|4-7 hours to North Dome and back (plus 20-75 minutes for side trip to Indian Rock)
|10 miles to North Dome and back (plus 1.2 miles for side trip to top of Indian Rock)
|600-ft descent from Tioga Road to North Dome with 500-ft of ups and downs along the way (plus 300-ft gain for side trip to top of Indian Rock)
|Porcuipine Creek Trailhead: 8132'
Summit of North Dome: 7543'
Summit of Indian Rock: 8478'
|Early summer to autumn (whenever Tioga Road is open for the season and the route is not covered in snow)
From the parking area, follow the trail south as it slowly descends through the forested high country. After roughly 1.8 miles, you will reach the first trail junction--while the signs may be a bit confusing, continue straight across (North Dome 2.6). The trail then heads uphill as it makes its way up the side of Indian Ridge; an open area makes for a nice little teaser view showing Yosemite Valley far in the distance. Once at the top of the ridge, you will see a sign marking the short spur trail to "Indian Rock." (We'll visit this later...)
The trail continues south following the ridgeline and soon enough, forest gives way to bare open granite, offering views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley in the distance. North Dome can be seen prominently one mound a way. At one point, the official trail hooks to the left into the woods, but you can just as easily hike down the face of the ridge. (See map.) At the next trail junction with the trail to Upper Yosemite Fall, the trail to North Dome takes a hard left and zigzags down into the forested gully under Indian Ridge and then heads up the spine of North Dome proper.
From the top of North Dome, you can see amazing views in all directions; the straight-on face view of Half Dome is particularly striking as is the view into Tenaya Canyon under Clouds Rest. When you have had your fill, return the way you came and remember that the return trip to the Porcupine Creek Trailhead will be a bit more strenuous as it is 600 feet higher.
On the return hike if you have enough time and gas in the tank, take the short spur trail up to see Indian Arch, a beautiful and rare granite arch formation. And if you have even more time (roughly an hour), you can continue hiking the ridgeline north to the highpoint labeled "Indian Rock." A bit of route-finding and scrambling are necessary, but the views from the top of this remote little peak are worth it. Return the way you came.
|Map: North Dome (and Indian Rock)
Note: While viewing the map, click on the map to return to this page.
This is a great day hike in Yosemite's backcountry and the views from North Dome are some of the best in the park. While this route is somewhat popular and you will run into a fair amount of people along the trail, the strenuousness and remoteness of the hike should keep it from feeling overly crowded.