North Dome and Indian Ridge Natural Arch via Porcupine Creek- Tioga Pass, California
Magical panoramic views into the Yosemite Valley up to the high peaks on Tioga Road from North Dome.
There are various routes to get to North Dome, but the tribe's choice was one on the Tioga Road via the Porcupine Creek Trailhead - Porcupine Creek Trailhead, Tioga Road, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389.
Fall is a great time to be in Yosemite, this trail is a delight given it takes route through the forest for a considerable distance. The trail starts off the Tioga Road (accessible when open), from a small parking lot just off the road, its good to arrive early. Unlike Half Dome, no permits are required to get to North Dome, as a day hike. The trail starts off as moderate downhill first through a paved path, then steadily into the soft soil of the Sierra forest. The smell of evergreens surrounds the air. There are a few stream crossings, but given the time of the year they were dry and could be easily crossed. Tribe had the whole forest to themselves - this truly seemed like a perfect solitude. The descent will continue for another 2 miles. Look for signs pointing to North Dome as the trail splits - from here you will see a steady climb and reach an overlook point. Tribe took a quick break, soaking in the perfect views on a clear smoke free day.
As you pass through the Indian Ridge continue straight, soon you will reach the granite portion - this is where the trail becomes a bit sketchy and is not very well marked. Follow the cairns if you can find some or simply keep to the left as you steadily go downhill on the main trail. There is a shortcut to go down the rock if you navigate straight. Once again you will reach a plateau and will be able to see the North Dome at a distance - to stay on the trail, keep left again and you will come across some tricky scramble on slick granite, followed by some tree cover once again, this leads to the base of the dome.
Continue uphill from here onto the dome and you will be treated with stunning 360 degree views of the Half Dome, Cloud Rest, Cathedral Rocks and the Yosemite Valley. North Dome provides for a front row view to the stunning grandeur of Half Dome. Tribe was amazed with the rock formation, some that looked like a shoe, others that were like paws - interesting to discover these rock formations. After soaking in the view tribe headed back, we soon realized that most of the elevation gain on this hike is on the way back, which can be draining mentally and physically.
Front row viewing of all the Yosemite National Park's iconic rock formations from the summit of North Dome
Its easy to get off path, hence would recommend making some markers that can show the way back. On the way back, the tribe spent a good hour around the Indian Rock Arch, one of the only natural arches in Yosemite, the beauty of this natural creation will amaze you. It came out to be a 11 miles RT with some detours to the India Arch and lookout points, which were all well worth it.
Learning's from the tribe - 'Nature always wears the colors of the spirit' - Ralph Waldo Emerson. So truly the colors on this hike were vibrant, fun and festive!