Hiking from Mirror Lake to North Dome to Upper Falls

Notes by piero scaruffi | Yosemite page | See Travel resources

North Dome from Tioga Rd

This is a relatively easy hike. Park at turnout T19 on the Tioga Pass road. The trail passes by Indian Rock, a steep 1km detour. After about 2 hours of hiking, the trail forks again: to the left is the final stretch to North Dome, whereas to the right is the trail to Upper Falls. Roundtrip this 18km hike takes approximately 5 hours.

North Dome from Upper Falls

The trail leaves the Upper Falls via the bridge on the Yosemite Creek just before the Upper Falls. The trail then climbs up but soon becomes a pure abstraction. When you can, move towards the edge and you should see the rails that mark Yosemite Point, a better viewpoint than the one at the Upper Falls. The trail then becomes more visible. It climbs one more major (unnamed) peak (with exceptional views of Clouds Rest, North Dome and, behind it, Mt Lyell) and finally descends towards North Dome.
  • Ten Lake trailhead on Tioga Rd
  • Creek crossing 20'
  • Yosemite Creek campground 45'
  • Trail to Falls from campground 1h15'
  • Lukens trail junction 2h
  • Creek crossing 3h
  • Eagle Peak junction 3h 20'
  • Upper Falls 3h 45'
  • Yosemite Point outlook 4h30'
  • Summit of 2200m unnamed mountain: 5h
  • Junction with shortcut to Porcupine Flat 5h25'
  • North Dome 6h
  • Porcupine Flat trailhead 8h
View from North Dome

Mirror Lake to Snowcreek Falls to North Dome to Upper Falls

The first part of this trail is considered the steepest climb out of Yosemite Valley (i am not sure that i agree). The trail starts at Mirror Lake and climbs to Snow Creek Falls and North Dome, then converges to the Upper Falls trail:
  • Get off the shuttle bus at the Mirror Lake stop
  • Walk about 1km on the paved road to Mirror Lake (note: the lake is not visible from the trail)
  • Follow the unpaved trail to the junction with the trail going to Happy Isles. This is the beginning of the steepest section.
  • The end of the switchbacks is just one minute before the junction with the trail that goes to Tenaya Lake. Distance: 6km. Time to this junction: 2 hours.
  • Now the trail is mildly uphill until the junction with the trail leading to Tioga Rd (most tourists to North Dome come down this trail, so the number of people on the trail is likely to increase exponentially at this point). Do not miss Snowcreek Falls which are to the right of the trail as you are heading up (the trail gets steeper after this point but you are almost at the junction). Distance: 4km. Time to this junction: 3.5 hours.
  • (If you don't want to see North Dome, a shortcut leads straight to the trail heading for the Upper Falls, saving you a few kms)
  • The trail south to North Dome passes near Indian Rock. It is a steep 0.5km detour to climb to the top of Indian Rock. Then 0.5km back to the main trail. Distance: 4km. Time to Indian Rock: 4.5 hours.
  • For mysterious reasons, the trail goes left and around a smaller dome. You can simply walk on this dome, enjoy the view of North Dome and Half Dome from this smaller dome, and then climb down to North Dome. This is a straight line instead of going around it.
  • Shortly before North Dome, the trail hits the junction with the trail that leads to the Upper Falls. Distance: 4km. Time to this junction: 5 hours.
  • It is a 1km detour to go all the way to North Dome and back to this point.
  • The trail to the Upper Falls winds down and then up and then down again into the canyon of the Yosemite Creek. Distance: 6km. Time to the bridge: 7 hours
  • Once at the bridge that crosses the creek, climb up a short distance to reach the touristy area that overlooks the Upper falls, and then retreat your steps to the trail that leads down to the Yosemite Valley. Distance: 1km.
  • This is a steep trail on a horrible terrain, which might take a toll on your knees. Distance: 5km. Time: 9 hours to Camp 4
  • View from North Dome, Yosemite, California