This hike to its culmination, a Tunnel-View like vista that is less busy than the actual landmark, is more of a nature hike than anything, but it is still a great sightseeing destination, particularly if you want to see a side of Yosemite that is a bit less-traveled!
When it comes to Artist Point, you have to set aside the prejudice that normally comes with “not seeing the real thing”. Yes, the tunnel view at the end of this trail isn’t really the Tunnel View; however, in our opinion, it is actually a bit better! The vantage point provided at the end of Artist Point gives you a much better view of Clouds Rest, and a host of other landmarks like Bridalveil Meadow, North Dome, Ribbon Fall, Royal Arches, and the Merced River, all of which are truly picturesque and definitely worth the hike. True, you don’t get to see as much of Half Dome, Sentinel Dome, or Sentinel Rock, but what you do get to see makes up for it, particularly since you don’t have to worry about crowds as much.
This is a pretty easy hike (only a 2 mile round trip), so you can be in and out within an hour and a half. This makes it a no brainer if you are a photographer who wants to get in a few tripod shots without having to worry about carrying your heavy equipment all day.
As already mentioned, it’s short. Really short. And, there isn’t much in the way of natural obstacles that you have to worry about. There is some steepness at the beginning, and some fallen trees at the end; but, overall, we’d give it a solid 3/10 in terms of difficulty.
Though there aren’t any on the trailhead, Bridalveil Fall parking lot—just a few miles east—has some pit toilets you can make use of. But, for plumbing, you’ll have to go to all the way to Yosemite Village, another 5 miles past Bridalveil.