Perhaps among some of the most unique and interesting mountains in Yosemite—particularly within the Tioga Pass trails—North Dome affords hikers one of the best views of Half Dome in the entire park. You get to see it in all its entirety, while standing upon another impressive monument to the gorgeous landscape here in Yosemite. Add in the nearly unsurpassed views of Clouds Rest—views which are often obscured when hiking other popular trails such as Glacier Point or Yosemite Valley—and it’s easy to see why North Dome is at least somewhat popular amongst hardcore hikers.
Oddly enough, however, the Crowd Factor here is something you don’t have to worry about. It’s not really very crowded, though the views at the end of the trail do tend to have hikers stick around for a while. This is just one more reason to check this trail out!
Difficulty and Length
The trail itself is a tad long, at 8.8 miles, and there are a few hills to go over en route to your destination. But, you don’t have to worry about danger, and you don’t have to worry about being too, too exerted. We give it a weaker 6 out of 10, but it mostly ranks so high because of the higher elevation.
The elevation at the trailhead is actually lower than at North Dome (8,100 compared to 7,540 ft), but, oftentimes, going down is as hard as going up. Fortunately, it isn’t really steep in most places, so that doesn’t factor too much into the difficulty. Furthermore, don’t stray too close to the edge of the dome. There aren’t any guard rails, and you are definitely subject to falling—particularly if you are a bit absentminded.