Trip Report – North Dome/Yosemite Falls

A report of a group going on the North Dome/Yosemite Falls hike.

Total distance (one way): ~12.17 miles
Elevation change: +1852 ft, -6052 ft
Entry trailhead: Porcupine Creek
Exit trailhead: Yosemite Falls
Dates: 6-28-2013 to 6-29-2013

This trip marked the first backpacking trip for Gracepoint Davis this year! During the June 28th weekend, we sent out two backpacking teams: one to Tuolumne Meadows up to Waterwheel Falls and the other from Tioga Road (Highway 120) to Yosemite Falls. The Yosemite Falls team was led by Lem and accompanied by c/o 2015 brothers some of whom were veterans of last years backpacking adventures.

The trip was planned rather spontaneously as the wilderness passes were originally reserved for another group, but logistics came out smoothly. The plan was to park along Porcupine Creek trail head and then proceed to hike to North Dome by nightfall.

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Porcupine Creek Trailhead, photo by J. Loomis

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We camped on Indian Ridge just before North Dome. Indian ridge overlooks North Dome, has a great view of Half Dome, and is an excellent location to set up camp. There is a lovely clearing with sandy soil by the trail and plenty of firewood nearby. Unfortunately there isn’t a water source close by so be sure to have enough water for breakfast if you camp here. Great location for stargazing.

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Campsite location with the guys with a great view of Half Dome in the background.

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After breaking camp, we proceeded to hike toward North Dome just down the ridge. Along the trail there are amazing sights of the valley and of Half Dome.

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The trail to North Dome includes a very steep and rocky descent so we stored our packs at the base of one of these trails and then proceeded on hiking for another 15 minutes to North Dome (the trail doubles back to get to Yosemite Falls, so leaving the bags to save energy is suggested).

From North Dome we had a 270 degree view of Yosemite Valley.

After North Dome we hiked through a shady, forested trail toward Yosemite Falls. The trail included several seasonal and all-year creeks. At one well-moving creek we washed up, filtered fresh mountain water for the entire team, and had a snack.

Not long after we reached Yosemite Creek which feeds the Upper Yosemite Falls. At the creek, there are plenty of locations to take a dip, with a few protected pools safely far from the falls. We did find a view crazy individuals who swam a mere yards from the edge.Image

Bridge across Yosemite Creek

We then hiked 10 minutes to Overlook Point which there is a precariously narrow trail to a small landing that overlooks the falls.

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Overlook Point

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Path to Overlook

From Overlook we traveled down to the Valley, but through a strenuous 3 mile path of granite switchbacks. The path took over two hours and was very hard on the knees as it was constant downhill on rocky surfaces and the occasional stone was covered in sand and slippery. Eventually we reached the base of the trail at Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley. At the nearby Yosemite Lodge we picked up Tuolumne Meadows Hikers Bus tickets that we had previously reserved via phone call and proceeded to taking the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle to the Backpackers Campsite behind North Pines Camp Grounds (Shuttle Stop # 18)

That night we set up camp with other backpackers, ate a delicious ramen meal and spent some time back in civilizations at a cafe in Curry Village. There we had several scoops of ice cream.

The temperature in the Valley is much higher than in the hills so some of us spent the night outside the tent just sleeping under the stars.

The next morning we quickly broke camp and took the first shuttle to Curry Village to make it to our 8:00AM pickup for the Tuolumne Meadows Hikers Bus. The bus itself was a cross between a shuttle and a tour bus as the driver took custom drop off locations from the passengers, but still narrated the entire trip. Because of so many people boarding and departing the bus, the ride from the Valley back to Porcupine Creek Trail Head was over 2 hours. It was a lovely way to end the trip however, in the comforts of air conditioning.

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 Photos and word by Greg W.
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