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Along the road to Yosemite’s famous Glacier Point is the trailhead for an equally spectacular vista—Taft Point.
From the Taft Point/Sentinel Dome Trailhead, hike first through forest and fields, then emerge suddenly at a jaw-dropping perch on a clifftop.
At Taft Point, the precipice tumbles 1,000 feet straight down to the floor of Yosemite Valley, and the wide-open panorama includes El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and the Merced River. There is one small guardrail at the very apex of the point, but most of the rim is unprotected, so use caution.
There is no reason to get too close to the edge; the views are perfectly satisfying from a safe distance away. The hike to reach the point is a slight uphill, then a gradual downhill on a well-traveled trail.
Tall pines and firs provide a mix of sun and shade, and wildflowers bloom in the meadows during July.
As the rim comes into view, so do some peculiar geologic formations called The Fissures.
These are eroded cracks in the cliff, so deep in some places that they form a narrow slot all the way to the valley floor.
The Fissures, which are of various shapes and sizes, make the cliff here particularly angular and dramatic, with many different elevations and perspectives to reach.
Photo opportunities are abundant and impressive. You can walk freely on the bare rock and dirt around Taft Point, but be careful not to trample any vegetation.
Return the way you came or continue on a longer hike east or west along Pohono Trail, which holds more cliff-top views in either direction. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/glacierhikes.htm https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/glacierhikes.pdf