When Glacier Point Road is closed, there is only one way to get up to Glacier Point and that is to hike up the hill. We headed up the 4 Mile Trail, gaining 4,000′ of elevation. It is a tough workout but the views are well worth it. But there is more! We continued hiking 1 ½ miles further up the hill to Sentinel Dome.
Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 12.3 Miles
Elevation Range: 3,964′ – 8,114′
Date: November 30, 2013
Highlights: This is a hard hike, gaining about 4,000 feet of elevation in about 4 miles. Along the switchbacks, there are some great views of Yosemite Valley, reflections in the Merced River and the water flowing over Yosemite Falls revealed a rainbow for us.
We had great views at Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, looking into Tenaya Canyon, Half Dome and the high country that is a little tough to reach at this time due to Tioga and Glacier Point Roads being closed.
Also, I am guessing that this is enough of a strenuous hike to work off the 2 pieces of pecan pie I ate at Thanksgiving.
We parked at the 4 Mile Trail trailhead, which is on Southside Drive just west of the Swinging Bridge. This is a small parking area and if it is full you can park at the Swinging Bridge Parking Lot and walk to the trailhead.
The 4 Mile Trail is an old trail, about 130 years old and has been reworked and improved over the years. The length of the hike from the Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is now 4.7 miles one way. Just want you to know this little fact when you discover that you aren’t at the top yet and your GPS says you have climbed 4 miles.
We hadn’t started up the trail too far when we were greeted by this friendly Steller’s Jay. It is always possible that he was looking for a handout but I like to think that he was saying howdy.
The trail has many switchbacks but it is steep, no way around that. There are many areas along the trail where you can get some great views in all directions. We were treated to Yosemite Falls starting to show a little water after been dry. We even saw a little bit of a rainbow reflected off of the falls.
Looking down into the valley, we could see El Capitan reflected in the Merced River.
Looking into the west side of Yosemite Valley, we could see the early morning sun hitting the peaks.
This is the magnificent view that greeted us when we made it to Glacier Point.
If you haven’t been to Glacier Point, you should take a look at the sign and relief map that point out the various peaks that you can see from this spot.
I zoomed way in on Nevada Falls to see a few people standing on the bridge. Can you spot them?
I am going to share one of my secret picture taking spots with you but you need to promise to not tell anyone. At Glacier Point, near the amphitheater, there is a rock that juts up.
It isn’t a very big rock but if you position your friends at the top, then frame the picture in order to capture Half Dome behind or to their side, and start the bottom of the picture about half way up that rock, you will get a shot that makes it appear as if your friends are hanging out on a great big ledge. Give it a try for yourself!
After relaxing at Glacier Point and taking a few pictures, we headed another mile and a half up to Sentinel Dome for our lunch spot. There was still some snow and ice on this trail.
I hurried up to the top of Sentinel Dome to capture our hiking gang make it to the top, climbing up the rock dome with patches of snow.
I love it when the potholes in the rock have water or ice in them. It is fun to try and catch reflections and frame the scenery in them.
We had Sentinel Dome to ourselves. What a great lunch spot!!
The view was amazing no matter which direction you turned.
Gail Gilbert captured this picture of me on top of Sentinel Dome, happy to have accomplished this strenuous hike and worked off some of those pieces of pecan pie that I had at Thanksgiving, but most happy to see this incredible view of the high country.
If you would like to give this trail a try, don’t wait too long because the 4 Mile Trail is closed during the winter. It can get pretty icy in spots and just isn’t safe. Speaking of safety, be sure and bring lots of water to drink and wear good shoes. This is a tough hike and not for everyone. The good news is that Glacier Point is real easy to get to when the Glacier Point Road is open.