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Autumn Hiking in Yosemite – Taft Point and Sentinel Dome

In October, my husband and I took a six-day trip to Yosemite. I’ll cover the hikes we did in this series of blogs.

Autumn in Yosemite

With the cool crisp air and changing oak leaves, Autumn in Yosemite is beautiful. There are, however, a couple of things to note: waterfall flow is low (but still wonderful!) and fire personnel take advantage of the calm weather to do controlled burns. I will talk more about the controlled burns in another blog; they didn’t affect our hike to Taft Point and Sentinel Dome.

Hike to Taft Point

The hike to both Taft Point and Sentinel Dome begins at the trailhead parking lot on Glacier Point Road. The parking lot was full when we got there (late morning), but there are places to park on the side of the road. For us, this added an extra half mile walk from our car to the trailhead. Glacier Point itself, where most visitors congregate to take in the view, is located 7.5 miles further down the road.

The trailhead elevation begins at 7700 feet, so if it’s your first day or two there, you will feel it. I know I did! For an “easy” one-mile hike, it seemed awfully hard. You actually descend 200 feet to Taft point, but high elevation takes a toll on your muscles!

The trail to Taft Point passes through a wild garden of ferns.

Once we got to Taft Point–which encompasses a huge stone cliff and a tiny protected vista–I found a spot waaaay back from the edge and just sat down, right on the stone ground. I had to build up the courage to walk out to the vista point and look down from the steel railing. I finally did, but I only stayed about 30 seconds. Also, I didn’t want to watch my husband wander around the cliff–makes me too scared for him!

My husband photographing me photographing him from the Taft Point railing.
My photo from the Taft Point railing. El Capitan is the huge stone-face on the right. I don’t know the crazy couple on the left, but they make the photo!
Taft Point. My husband said he wasn’t as close to the edge as he looked. Phew! (photo courtesy of a stranger.)
Panorama from Taft Point, photo by my husband.

Hike to Sentinel Dome

From Taft Point we took the Pohono connecting trail to Sentinel Dome. This added another 2.5 miles to our walk. Alternatively, you can walk directly back to the trailhead from Taft Point (one mile), and from there walk a mile to Sentinel Dome.

A resting stop on the Pohono Trail. Make sure you bring lots of snacks and water. The altitude really takes a toll.

Sentinel Dome’s final elevation is 8,100 feet–a climb of 400 feet from the trailhead. I really felt it, especially the final climb to the top. It kicked my behind! But I made it, and what views! You can see Yosemite Fall, El Capitan, Half Dome, Nevada Fall, and Clouds Rest. It’s absolutely incredible.

A view of El Capitan from Sentinel Dome.
My husband taking in the glory of Yosemite from Sentinel Dome.
Looking down on Nevada Fall from Sentinel Dome.
A View of Half Dome from Sentinel Dome.
Tired but happy!

The next blog will be about our hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls. Stay tuned!


  1. Jeannine Thompson Jeannine Thompson

    Wow! So many breathtaking views!
    I had never pictured Yosemite as being so mountainous and rocky. You were really high and, evidently, your muscles knew it.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience with us!

    • KarenGough KarenGough

      Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying a virtual travel experience with me. 😊 More to come!

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