I am back from a wonderful trip to Yosemite National Park where I had the chance to really explore Yosemite Valley, enjoy the picturesque views and see amazing wildlife including deer, a black bear mother with two cubs, and plenty of woodpeckers, ravens, squirrels.
Yosemite is a magical place, accurately described as a place of healing and relaxation by John Muir in his 1912 book The Yosemite. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”
On this trip to Yosemite I discovered an easy/moderate hike that I loved, and I know many of you will too! The hike is to Taft Point, a spectacular lookout when you can see El Capitan from almost the same elevation as the top of the iconic monolith and gaze at the meadows and trees on the valley floor. Plus, the hike is a very enjoyable one with lots of shade from beautiful pine trees and oak trees, and you’re sure to see wildlife grazing on tasty manzanita shrubs (see my picture of the antlered deer!).
How to Get to the Taft Point Trailhead
From Yosemite Valley, it is about a 40 minute drive to get to the Sentinel Dome & Taft Point Trailhead. Drive south on Wawona Road, head east onto Glacier Point Road, and be sure to drive carefully because wildlife does indeed cross the road! I saw a Mama Bear and 2 cubs on Glacier Point Road when I was there. There is a small parking area on the north side of the road for Sentinel Dome/Taft Point.
Hiking Taft Point
At the trailhead, you take an immediate left (heading west) to the Taft Point trail. It is well marked.
The Fissures are amazing geologic features that are narrow fractures in the granite rocks. You’ll hike right by them on the way to Taft Point, so be sure to stay away from the edges!
You’ll know you’ve reached Taft Point when you see the metal guardrails to enable safe viewing from the edge. There you’ll enjoy the same spectacular views that took my breath away – looking across Yosemite Valley to the marvelous El Capitan, but from a unique perspective of being at approximately the same elevation. Taft Point is 7,503 feet, and the top of El Capitan is 7,569 feet!
Due to the severe drought in California and the current season, Yosemite Falls was dry, however, in the spring you will likely be able to see the rushing waters of Yosemite Falls from Taft Point. More reason for me to return!
Hiking Taft Point: The Details
- Distance: 2.2 miles, round trip.
- Elevation: 200 feet of elevation decline to Taft Point (it is a gradual downhill for the most part, and is slightly steeper when you approach The Fissures.
- Best time to do this hike: Whenever Glacier Point Road is open. The road closes seasonally based on weather conditions. It is typically open from June through October.
- Warnings: If you plan to take children, be sure that you keep a VERY close eye on them when you approach The Fissures and Taft Point. There are sheer drop offs if you get too close to the edge. There is plenty of room to stay away from any edges, so for those with fears of heights, you can simply stay well away from any drop offs.