This is an incredible hike that you are guaranteed to see some of the best views of Half Dome and not be burdened by hundreds of tourists. This hike takes a little extra work to find and drive to, which makes it less appealing to the masses. However, when you find it, you are rewarded with life changing views.

Starting at about 8,000 feet on Tioga Road just before you reach Olmstead Point you will see a pullout on the side of the road. This is where you can park for this hike. You will walk past a gate and up towards an old rock quarry, which the trail passes just to the left of it. From there you will easily be able to follow the trail towards Mt. Watkins. About 2 miles in you pass a massive boulder and will turn left shortly after that and go down for a short while. The trail also has orange markers in the trees, as this is a cross country ski route during winter time.

You continue on the trail through the thick forest until you start going up hill towards the peak of Mt. Watkins. At this point the area will start to open up and you will feel like you are on top of the moon. Shortly the view of Half Dome will emerge in front of you in the distance, and Clouds Rest is to the East. Continue walking towards Half Dome until you get to the edge of Mt. Watkins and you can take a seat on a rock, have a sandwich and enjoy the view of a lifetime.

Pack List

This is a nice day hike but I would recommend spending time out there since the views are incredible.

  • Camera
  • Water
  • Snacks
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RT Distance 6 Miles
Elevation Gain 500 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Stargaze at Olmsted Point

Just off the side of the highway, look for the pullout for Olmsted Point on your Map. There is a parking area with about 25 parking spots and the lookout point with the tree is right next to there.

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Hike Mt. Hoffmann via the East Chute

This is a solid, day long trip. It is a great hike with a bit of a scramble on the way up to the summit massif and then again at the nearly 11,000-foot peak of Mount Hoffmann.

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Hike to Mt. Hoffman

The May Lake trailhead is at the end of a 2 mile unpaved road leading north from Tioga Road. The trailhead has pit toilets and bear lockers.

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