Taft Point Hike Leads to Views of Yosemite Valley and El Capitan

Part of the You Can Learn Travel series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
November 10, 2007

Outstanding Views of Yosemite Valley from Taft Point.

The Taft Point hike in Yosemite National Park is one of the easier hikes. You can reach Taft Point with a 20 minute walk. Once there you will be afforded terrific views of Yosemite Valley. You can experience the Taft Point Fissures and see straight across the valley floor to El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.

To reach the Taft Point trail drive along Glacier Point Road. About two miles before you get to Glacier Point there will be a relatively large parking lot on the west side (left) of the street. This parking lot serves both Taft Point and Sentinel Dome hikes. The trail for Taft Point begins to the left and heads down hill on a slight incline. You will walk through open forest.

You will cross a small stream in spring time. It probably is dry during the summer and early fall months. Depending on the time of year you visit you might even see ice on the forest floor. It is a pretty walk and not very strenuous. You will walk about a mile from the parking lot before reaching Taft Point. The drop in elevation is a minimal 250 feet.
Click photo to see ice on the trail to Taft Point.
The Taft Point Trail has ice on it in June in Yosemite National Park
The trail to Taft Point has ice on it even during early June.
Click to see larger photo.
The Taft Point Fissures in Yosemite National Park
The Taft Point Fissures in Yosemite National Park

The Fissures of Taft Point

One of the first things you see when you reach Taft Point will be the Fissures. These are huge cracks in the granite. Hold onto your children as this area can be dangerous. We heard water falling over the edge, but we weren't able to see it or even get a photo of it. I took a photo of one of the fissures where a couple of huge boulders were embedded in between the fissure walls.

Once past the fissures you see a little fenced in area at the top of the hill. This is a great spot to view Yosemite Valley. It is a steep hike to the metal fence but worth the effort. Look for the geological marker after you get to this point. It was placed there in 1906. Look over the fence straight down 3,500 feet to the valley floor. Not for those with severe fears of height.
Click on photo to see larger photo of Taft Point Fissures.
Glacial Erratics lodged in Taft Point Fissures.
Some large boulders have become lodged in one of the Taft Point Fissures

Click to see larger photo of Taft Point Geological Marker.
At the highest point at Taft Point is a geological marker showing 7503 feet above sea level.
This geological marker has a date of 1906 at Taft Point.
From this granite promontory you get a panoramic vista of Yosemite Valley. You can see the meandering Merced River. You can almost see all 3 falls of Yosemite Falls. (I will tell you where to see all 3 falls shortly.) El Capitan rises majestically above the Valley Floor. The three brothers can also be seen from here. Do the three brothers have snow on them?

Walk around Taft Point and look at the Valley from different angles. Yosemite Valley sits 3,500 feet below Taft Point. There are a couple of different places where the granite pokes out over the valley and they all give you wonderful perspectives. This is a great place to get photos.

Early in the morning this is not a busy place. There was only one other couple at Taft Point when we were visiting. There was a slight haze as you can see in the photos. Once the rock warms up you will see little Western Fence Lizards running between the cracks. (Watch where you sit, ha ha.)

Now if you want to see more of Yosemite Falls I recommend you continue on to Sentinel Dome. Just by walking back toward the parking lot you soon come upon a trail that will take you along the valley rim. It is probably two miles and a lot of up and not so much down. It is not a rugged path. It will take you through forested areas. Watch for bears? We kept our eyes open for bears or signs of bears and we didn't see any.

There is a place along this path between Sentinel Dome and Taft Point where you can see all three falls of Yosemite Falls. It is an amazing sight. You will probably be all by yourself in this section of the park. We did not see anybody else on this path. You can hear the birds and every once and a while the path peaks out over the valley floor.
Click on photo to see larger view of El Capitan.

Taft Point offers a wonderful view of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park
The View of El Capitan from Taft Point
Click to see larger photo of Yosemite Falls from Taft Point.
Taft Point offers one of the views of the entire 3 falls of Yosemite Falls.
Taft Point is a great place to go to see all 3 falls of Yosemite Falls.

I will describe Sentinel Dome in another article. But, while visiting Yosemite National Park, I recommend you take the time to visit Taft Point. It will give you an unique view of the Yosemite Valley. The fissures are interesting and the views are breathtaking. You might have the entire rock all to yourself and experience the space like the early explorers. Enjoy your visit to Taft Point I know we did.

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