Sentinel Dome

Yosemite National Park

Birds-eye view of the Valley atop one of Yosemite's higher granite domes.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
3.6 km
Ascent
161 m
Descent
161 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
2.3 km
High Point
2.5 km
Gradient
Sentinel Dome Map

Sentinel Dome is another of Yosemite’s lofty, rounded monoliths. Though not as large nor as famous as Half Dome, Sentinel is a decent alternative if Half Dome seems like too much to tackle. Sentinel’s summit is at a comparable elevation to that of Half Dome but is much easier to reach, and the view remains impressive. It grants a full panorama of Yosemite Valley, including the Nose of El Capitan, the sheer face of Half Dome, and the torrent of Yosemite Falls.

Description

There are a few ways to reach Sentinel Dome, but the hike described here is the standard route. It begins from Taft Point/Sentinel Trailhead along Glacier Point Road. The trail winds uphill through towering conifers and verdant mountain meadows, with intermittent views to the valley unfolding below. In about a mile, you’ll reach the exposed granite base of the dome. From there, no designated path leads to the top. Simply proceed upward in whatever way you find most manageable. Be sure to watch your footing for safety and avoid trampling any vegetation.

Take the same care when returning downhill, then retrace your steps for the quickest route back to the car. An alternative is to complete a loop around the dome with Roosevelt Point and Pohono Trails, which adds more overlooks on the valley rim.

Parking at the Sentinel Dome Trailhead is limited, so you should arrive early to secure a spot. If it’s full, consider starting from a different trailhead along Glacier Point Road. Note that Glacier Point Road is scheduled for complete closure in the year 2021 for reconstruction, but trails will remain open. During that time, the best way to reach Sentinel Dome is a much longer and more strenuous hike from the Four Mile Trailhead within the Valley.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/glacierhikes.htm https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/glacierhikes.pdf

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area