What? : Half Dome Diving Board, One of Ansel Adams Yosemite Pictures, Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, was taken from this exact location.
From this location, right in front of the face of Half Dome and 3000 ft above the valley below you can witness the mighty of this granite mountain, enjoy the grand vista of the valley and surrounding mountains.
The view from the Diving Board is remarkable and unique.
Aside from Half Dome’s massive northwest face you can see from here many of the park famous attraction points: North Dome, Mount Watkins, Tenaya Canyon and waterfall, Mount Hoffmann, Glacier Point, the Royal Arches, Yosemite Falls, Eagle Peak and El Capitan.
Related Blog Posts:
- Yosemite National Park – How to plan your One-Day visit
- Yosemite National Park - Bear Pictures
- Yosemite NP – Hiking Mist trail to Vernal Falls and Nevada Fall
- Yosemite NP – Half Dome Hike
Warning - This strenuous hike is not for everyone.
It does not have official marked trail, it involves with navigations skills, and it includes steep mountain climb and crossing difficult terrain.
From Curry Village in Yosemite Valley this hike was almost 15 miles with 4500 ft of elevation gain, a full long day of hiking and having fun in the nature.
Where? : The view point is located in front of the base of Half Dome, west of Little Yosemite Valley. The trail start is from John Muir Trail, 0.7 miles east of the junction with Mist Trail at the top of Nevada falls.
When? : This hike is recommended at late spring early summer months when the snow at this elevation already melted. At summer and when it hot it will be difficult to climb the last section of this hike.
Due note 1: I’m writing this section not to discourage you from doing this hike. This is not a simple hike and if you fall during the hike over the boulders or the steep sections you could get seriously hurt yourself.
Due note 2: This is strenuous hike.
Although not long, the last section of this trail right after Lost Lake to the viewpoint is only 0.7 mile long but has ~1400 ft elevation gain. You will need to find your way up in unmarked trail, steep, steady climb overhanging cliffs and bushwalking in dense vegetation.
This is not a hike for everyone, but it can be done.
Due note 3: You do not need climbing abilities or ropes and the hike is not expose (at least not the route I took).
Due note 4: After doing this hike alone I do recommend hiking here with other hikers, carry with you a GPS communication device for case of emergency.
Due note 5: On top of the distance and elevation gain aspects, you need to understand that this is unmarked trail, you will need to navigate it.
The first trail section up to Lost Lake is easy and clear but from there it is practically hiking with no trail at all. The “trail” cairns are “everywhere”, and you need to come prepared with the trail information and a good GPS software that will help you to find the right path uphill.
Due note 6: As always in wilderness bring enough water with you for a full day hike. During spring an early summer, you can find water in the creek, but this can get dry at the hot summer.
Due note 7: Do not do “foolish things” on the edge of the cliff, from here this is 3000 ft free fall to the valley below.
Due note 8: I considered myself as a very experience navigator with more than 35 years of top-level navigation experience I almost never use GPS for actual navigation, mainly more for confirmation that I’m correct. At this hike I needed the help of a GPS software to tune my progress, stay on track, and find the correct rout.
Due note 9: There are few other possible alternate routes that can lead to Diving Board. One of them is named the “climber’s rout”. This trail is crossing the cliff edge of Half Dome, following a cracks and small ledges in the face of the rock. This trail is much higher than the one I chose to take. I found it to be too much expose for me, especially when I’m hiking alone. Falling here can cause major trauma if not fatality. On the other hand, the trail I took is not simple and may have some tough sections but if you are careful, it is much safer that the climber’s rout.
Due note 10: This is a long full-day hike. Start as early as you can and make sure you can hike back at dark. Take with you GPS communication device, headlamp and warm cloth, enough water (you may find water sources on your way at spring months, but you need water filter), and enough food.
Always think that you may need to spend the night in the field.
I carried with me 2 cameras and a large telephoto lens; I did not regret it. I’m using this lens for many of my landscape photos and when I saw the bear the 600 mm zoom gave me excellent close-ups pictures.
Due note 11: You can sleep in this area but for that you do need an overnight wilderness permit.
Due note 12: I find that AllTrail hike map is taking you over the higher climber path that is exposed rock section and I do not recommend taking this path
Due note 13: Does not looks like that the official Yosemite National Park website provides any information about this hike.
Due note 14: Somehow unusual note.
For the one that may say that blogs like this are bad, revealing information about “secrete places” and ruin them because more people will visit here. People that think that such locations should remain unknown to other people…
This is not what I think.
If this hike is not for everyone and may be danger? so the answer is yes
You can fall off Half Dome and the NP do not think close it to people (people can even climb it when cables are down).
If more people will visit this place after reading this blog than the answer is yes, but that a good thing.
You may hike here, and you can’t say “I was the only one there” but this what nature is about, and I believe we need to share it as long we do not destroy it.
I do not think that more people hiking here will destroy or harm this place.
My thoughts: From the first time I saw the picture of the hanging cliff edge over Yosemite Valley I want to visit here. This was on my to-do list for some time, and I finally made it. I’m not in top-shape lately and this was hard for me to climb up the steep mountain. The last section of the hike, at hot day was a constant buttle, I had to take many rest-stops. The view from the cliff edge down to the valley below is breathtaking and on the other side looking up Half Dome cliff face from such close-up is unique perspective.
It always amazes me how I can be so close to hustle and bustle of Yosemite Valley and the busiest park hike (the Mist Trail and Vernal Falls) and here just few miles away, at the Diving Board, I’m all alone.
On top of the breath-taking viewpoint the encounter with the bear on the way back was not less than amazing, a dream come true
Overall length: I will start this detailed hike description from the junction of John Muir Trail with the top of Mist trail (where you can find new restroom cabin).
From the Trailhead to the Diving Board this is 2.5 miles hike (+additional 2.5 mile to hike back to this point), with 1700 ft elevation gain.
Overall, from the valley parking lot starting point near Curry Village this hike was almost 15 miles with almost 4500 ft of elevation gain.
I hiked slowly, enjoying the view, and doing many rest-stops along the way + additional 20 minutes spending with the bear, it took me almost 12 hours to hike this trail.
I will recommend the following: allow about 6 hours up, 4 hours down.
This is not about the distance; at the last hike section you will progress 0.7 mile, but you will need to climb ~1300 ft in a steep, bolder climbing and bushwalking sloop.
For a full description of Mist trail see the following blog:
From the junction of John Muir Trail with the top of Mist trail keep hiking east into the direction of Little Yosemite Valley.
At this first section the trail climbs moderately for 0.3 mile and then descend for another 0.2 mile.
Note: In this JMT section there is an unmarked trail on your left, I did not saw it, but in any case, do not take it.
After 0.5 mile from the starting point, you will reach a clear V trail junction. Left is John Muir Trail and right will lead you to Little Yosemite Valley, here, you will see the Merced River just near the trail.
Keep hiking left on John Muir Trail and walk slowly so you can find the unmarked trail you need to take on your left. At 0.7 miles from the starting point, you will see a faint indistinct trail taking left into the bushes and up the small ridge.
|Here you need to take left on the "trail" leading into the bushes|
Take left and try to find the trail, once you pass the first few hundred feet and the trail pass the small ridge it become a clear trail that marked with cairns.
At this section the trail is clear and easy to follow.
Note: If you did not find the trail, try to walk left (up) or right (down), and find it, the forest here is relatively open with a lot of fallen dead trees and without bushes.
The trail does not climb left or going into the lower elevation on your right, it is trying to keep the same level.
At this area I saw the bear when walking back from the viewpoint at the afternoon.
Hopefully by now you manage to find and follow the trail, after some time the trail starts to descend into a small creek. You can cross the stream on the large log.
Keep hiking at the short uphill, the tail level in an open section and soon you will cross another small stream, this stream drains the Lost Lake.
Both streams can be dry during summer and fall.
After short walk you will reach to the east section of the Lost Lake, actually, this is more like a large winter pound than a lake.
Enjoy the view of Half Dome back, towering over the lake.
Here the trail follows the lake direction in the gap between the lake on your right and the rocks on your left. You can’t miss it.
Once you reach the far side of the lake, this is 0.85 mile away from the start of you off-trail section (the place you exit John Muir Trail).
Note: Up until now it was relatively easy to follow and to find the trail. From this point there is no trail, and you need to pay attention and find the right directions.
After the lake the “trail” keeps heading west for few hundred feet until you will reach a turn to the right. At this point the main visible trail turn right into the base of Half Dome, this is a climber hike, you need to keep walking straight.
|Here you need to keep going straight to the saddle and not turn right|