When in early February, I booked a stay at Curry Village Campground, I could not imagine what will happen in the next months. After that, there was Yosemite closure, and then the news that Curry will be opened with only 50% capacity, and then there was a reopening but only with an entry permit.
I wrote to the company that manages Curry Village in late June to clarify the state of my reservation. They replied that everything was fine, and we could proceed. I still have way too many questions about these 50% reservation limits, when campground tents were almost completely sold out before the lockdown…
Initially (in February), I thought we would hike Cloud Rest (google it! fantastic place!). However, I didn’t realize how far from the western entrances is the trailhead. So I changed the plan on the fly days before the reservation.
Glacier Point Road that supposed to be closed for restoration in 2020, was opened. At least something positive about this year. It was decided we will hike to one of the very known places along the easter edge of Yosemite Valley, Taft Point.
Taft Point hike could be done in several ways. Most of the park visitors stop at the trailhead closest to the point and hike a shorter path. My idea was to stop at Glacier Point and then hike Rim Trail along the southern valley edge up to a point and then back through the Sentinel Dome for sunset.
Again, I was scared of the usual crowds to drive to the park midday. Also, I wanted a sunset hike, so we spent part of our day driving foothills and exploring Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad; by the way, nice place to spend several hours with kids.
We arrived at the southern park entrance after lunch. And we were the second car in the line. I was shocked. The road felt empty. Tunnel View Vista Point parking had a lot of available parking spaces. There were no slowdowns on the Valley roads.
We checked in in our tent, moved all our staff to the bear box, and rested for an hour before driving to the Glacier Point. When we were in the park, the only place that served food was the grill near the general store. I knew this fact in advance, so we bought some items in the grocery in foothills.
After 4 PM, we drove to Glacier Point. It still felt busy, but it wasn’t summer-weekend busy. We quickly found a parking spot and started our way along the edge towards Taft Point. When we saw elk near the trailhead, we knew that there would be almost no one on the trail.
If you hike from the Glacier Point, less than a mile from the trailhead, there is a nice overlook on Half Dome. The one that has views not worse than Glacier Point has. After that place, the trail that leads to the Sentinel Dome starts. But, as you may remember, we planned to hike there for sunset, so we proceeded.
The Rim Trail after that point has a partial view of the valley until it reaches Roosevelt Point, the point that I didn’t know exists before the hike, and didn’t know its name before writing this post. The point is right before the Sentinel Creek crossing (and you will definitely see it). I suggest you explore the are; it indeed is one of the best places in this hike.
After that place, Taft Point is very close. I bet you will hear the Taft Point trail crossing before you see it. The trail indeed is popular and felt very busy after almost empty Rim Trail. So prepare your masks and try to keep the distance. Taft Point is popular among wedding photographers, so be ready to see a few pairs on your way. Also, there will be slack-liners and climbers, and those who decided to see the sunset there. And bloggers, and IGrammers, and TickTockers (if it will still be alive).
The place is bustling and popular. But very photogenic. So be ready to wait in line for the photo.
As for myself, I felt awkward posing near the edge. Even if you’re not scared of the height, you will feel something unusual and strange looking down. But more uneasy, I felt when I saw a girl doing a headstand near the edge, and then the guys jumping across the Fissures. Please be very careful there; you have only one life.
So we hiked back the same way. Almost. After stopping again at Roosevelt Point, we took less used trail closer to the edge. It felt sketchy in places, but views along the way didn’t allow us to catch a breath. If you want to check it too, open Taft Point from Glacier Point trail map on AllTrails (see link below in the information section) and follow the unnamed trail near the area of Roosevelt Point.
There was a lightning storm that day; clouds made sunset otherworldly and very colorful. And yes, we didn’t count that we will spend so many time on the trail and will not be in time to hike Sentinel Dome, so we guessed that it would be left for another time, and walked to the Glacier Point to catch it under the last and very purple blue hour light.
Few things I want to say specifically about this hike:
- It’s almost leveled but still has few climbs descends and could be weary for a tired person.
- It’s a long hike. Not a few miles to and back.
- There are many places where you near the edge, and if you’re afraid of heights, this hike is not for you.
- After you cross the Taft Point trail, the path is very busy. Keep that in mind. You will not have Taft Point for yourself (maybe only in early morning hours)
- Plan to spend some time in the lines waiting to take a photo at Taft Point. We didn’t and were late for our planned itinerary.
Links and Info
- Check park closures before heading there. Trails could be closed due to COVID restrictions, fire, or weather.
- Currently (as in September of 2020), you need a permit or reservations to enter the park. And campgrounds in Yosemite are booked well in advance.
- Park is busy less than usual.
- You still need to pay the entrance fee or have a pass.
- However, still plan to arrive early or later to find a parking place at Glacier Point or be prepared to wait.
- The trail total based by AllTrails is 7.5 miles without the Sentinel Dome route.
- The trail description on AllTrails could be found here.
- The shorter Taft Point Trail description on AllTrails.
- Roosevelt Point on Google Maps: link.
- Explore Yosemite Mountains Sugar Pine Railroad while in the area.
- My other posts on what to do and see in Yosemite are here.