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Photo by Debra Sutherland

Hiking From Tioga Road to North Dome and Indian Arch

If I could sneak one more day of hiking in before Tioga Road closed, where would it be? A hike to North Dome with a side trip to Indian Arch sounded like the perfect plan.

Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 9.76 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Range: 7,397′ – 8,366′
Date: November 14, 2017
Maps: Hetch Hetchy Reservoir Topographic Quad
Dog Hike? No

An integral part of my perfect plan included watching the weather closely for a little over a week and tracking what looked like a possible Tioga Road closing storm. I sure wanted to get up there and picked what I thought could be that last day. I kept checking the Tioga Road conditions and reports said that they planned on closing it at 5 pm the day we were planning on hiking. My plan included setting the alarm extra early that morning to call the Road Conditions phone number to make sure Tioga Road was still open and it still showed that it was open. I realize that it is very cruel for me to share my last hike off of Tioga Road for the season with you when you will need to wait a while to be able to do it but please take some pleasure in knowing that my plan did not include getting stuck behind a locked gate on Tioga Road when they end up closing it earlier than expected.

We headed east on Tioga Road about 25 miles to the Porcupine Creek Trailhead. You will recognize it from the signs, restroom and bearboxes. The first part of the trail led us about .2 mile down to the old paved Tioga Road, which we followed toward North Dome to the left. The trail is the old road and we walked on that for about .7 miles. If you go to the right, you will end up at the Porcupine Flat Campground. We crossed a few small creeks that still had water in them but were able to rock hop or use previously placed logs to cross.

We reached several forks in the trail and followed the signs toward North Dome. We decided to head straight down to North Dome first, catching Indian Arch on the way back because the afternoon light would be better for picture taking. So far the trail was shaded by the trees but once we started down Indian Ridge, the trees became more sparse and the trail was on granite with some loose decomposed granite, which caused me to be a bit cautious on the steeper downhill portions. I sure didn’t want to slip. We started catching views of Basket Dome, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley and even up to Illilouette Falls.

We headed a bit off trail to the edge of this granite dome to check out those views before getting back on the trail. We could easily spot several managed fires that Yosemite National Park was working on.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Once we were back on the trail, it headed downhill at a good rate of descent. We didn’t mention anything about that to each other because we knew that we were going have to climb back up all of that. We lost about 450 feet over this stretch of about 2.4 miles. There were some level stretches and switchbacks in that mix but it still a bit of a climb.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

There were lots of wonderful sights to see on that way down and Half Dome looked especially beautiful.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Photo by Debra Sutherland

It was lunch time when we reached North Dome and we found some good rocks to relax on.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

After eating our lunches, it was time to head back.

But there is always time for a photo op when we see it.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

We headed back through those fairly level parts of the trail.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Then we climbed.

The trail did moderate in areas.

When we reached the junction to Indian Arch, we headed over to get a few pictures. This .2 mile stretch was uphill of course. They say that Indian Arch is the only natural arch in Yosemite National Park.  I found an interesting video that described how this arch was formed and you can see it here. The video explains how this rock was once a big gigantic boulder that has weathered over time.

And if, you get in just the right place, you can capture a photograph of Half Dome through the arch.

Glimpse of Half Dome from Indian Arch by Debra Sutherland

If you have ever wondered what it looks like to be on the wrong side of the gate when Tioga Road closes, the picture below is that view. What a surprise when we reached the gate at 4:33 pm to find the gate closed. It was anticipated to close at 5 pm and we were pretty early, or so we thought. Well, it turned out that they had shut it down in the morning because of the icy conditions. As we pondered that, we realized how very lucky we were to have gotten this Tioga Road hike in because we could have easily reached the gate in the morning and found it closed for our planned adventure. Whether it was my amazing planning skills or just plain luck, we were mighty happy to have gotten this hike in before the Tioga Road hiking trails were beyond our reach until next year. After a couple of minutes, a Park Service employee who was waiting at the gate kindly opened the gate and let us out. We were really not stuck long behind that locked gate but it makes a good ending to our adventure.

Dog Hike? No

Dogs are not allowed on the North Dome Trail.

Where Pets Are Not Allowed

  • On trails, including the trail to Vernal Fall (however, pets are allowed on the Wawona Meadow Loop)
  • On unplowed roads covered in snow
  • In undeveloped and wilderness areas
  • In public buildings
  • On shuttle buses
  • In lodging areas
  • In all walk-in and group campgrounds/campsites, including Camp 4
  • In any other areas, as signed

These regulations protect both pets and wildlife from disease and each other. The National Park Service has prohibited pets on trails for many years. In particular, some pets chase wildlife, pollute water sources, and can become defensive and dangerous in unfamiliar surroundings. Pet owners have the burden to assure their pet does not damage the park values for others in those areas where pets are allowed.

Yosemite Hospitality operates a dog kennel in Yosemite Valley from approximately late May through early September. Written proof of immunizations (rabies, distemper, parvo, and Bordetella) must be provided. Dogs must be at least 20 pounds (smaller dogs may be considered if you provide a small kennel). You can get more information about the kennel by calling 209/372-8326.

Map and Profile:

North Dome Indian Arch Doarama

Tioga Road to North Dome & Indian Arch Hike Topographic Map

Tioga Road to North Dome & Indian Arch Hike Profile


North Dome Hike Yosemite National Park

Indian Rock Geology Video YouTube

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