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Yosemite NP – Tioga Pass Lembert Dome Hike
What? : Lembert Dome is
one of the most impressive large granite mountain that is located at the east
side of the Tuolumne Meadows, just above the Tioga Road. This 3.7-mile loop
trail features stunning panoramic views looking west across Tuolumne Meadows. Plan
for 3 hours to enjoy this hike.
Although the trail
involves some climbing and exposed rock section the Lembert Dome Trail is one
of the least strenuous ways to enjoy the panoramic view of this area of the
Where? : the trailhead
is located on Tioga Pass 7 miles from the Yosemite East Entrance Gate or 1.3
miles east of Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center.
This is a large
parking lot just off the road, when coming from the visitor center cross the
bridge and it will be on your left.
Additional Yosemite and nearby locations blogs:
When? : If you are
planning to drive Tioga pass road (highway 120), enter or exit the park east
entrance or visit Tuolumne Meadows make sure to visit the park main page to
understand if this road is open or close. The road is usually open from mid-May
to end of October.
Follow the link
below for history records of road opening and closing dates:
time is at spring when the road is open, all is green and the mountains top
covered with snow.
Summer and fall
are also good time to be here because it is not hot at the higher elevation. At
fall the river is running low and the grassland is yellow.
Warning: It is not recommended
to climb the top of the dome if there is snow or ice.
Note: last time I was
here was in 2019
Due note 1: Interesting to
know that Tioga Pass (highway 120) that cross the Sierra east-west mark the
north section of the largest contiguous roadless wilderness in the continental
United States. From this road all the way 150 miles to the south of Mt. Whitney
(highway 178), no other roads cross the High Sierra.
Due note 2: Tuolumne
Meadows is the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada and probably
also the most accessible one, Tioga pass road (highway 120) cross it east to
west and there are many parking spots along the road.
Due note 3: Tioga Pass
Road went under renovation so driving conditions are good.
Parking: The main problem is that during crowded weekends
and holidays it will be challenging to find parking spots at specific location
along the road, plan to be flexible.
After the road face-lift
the number of road shoulders parking spots has reduced, there are still many locations,
but they can be occupied. There are few large parking lots along the center
section of the valley.
Due note 4: The nearest
Gas stations locations:
West: 38 miles
at the junction with Big Oak Flat Rd.
East: 21 at
highway 395 and the town of Lee Vining
Due note 5: It is good to
wear good grip shoes (sport shoes are fine) for this hike because you are
walking on sideways angle rock surface to reach the dome top.
Due note 6: It can be a
bit windy and breezy up at the exposed rocky dome so consider bringing warm
cloth with you.
Due note 7: The best time of
the day to be at the top is early morning when the sun hit the remote mountains
or late in the afternoon when the sun sunset to the east.
Due note 8: Stay off domes
during thunderstorms! It is not safe to be in high exposed location when there
Due note 9: As in all other
trail hikes in Yosemite dogs aren't allowed on this trail.
Due note 10: When I visit
here, Oct. 2022 the grill & convenience store near the east end of the
meadow was close and under major renovation. Not clear when this will be open.
Due note 11: There is a
large campground in Tuolumne Meadows but from my experience it is fully booked
early in the year. If you are planning to stay here, book your campground in
Due note 12: Bring mosquito
repellent with you if you are visiting here at spring or early summer.
Due note 13: Car parking lots:
The most obvious
Parking lot is at the trailhead. In the peak tourist season Lembert Dome Parking
lot gets filled up early in the day. so be prepared to look for parking in
nearby areas and roadsides. Park off the road, do not block any side roads, and
obey any "no parking" signs.
is to drive east and turn into a side road that marked as Tuolumne Meadows
Wilderness Center. Here you can park at the Wilderness Center or keep driving
and park at Lyell Canyon Trailhead, both those parking lots are located on the
PCT and are on the loop hike.
My thoughts: The panoramic view
of the large Tuolumne Meadows and the winding river below you are breathtaking.
The Tuolumne River flowing gently, winding through the grassland, and the view of
the “far” ragged Cathedral Mountain Range peaks towering into the sky will stay
with you for long time.
In this 3.7-mile
loop hike you’ll gain about 850 feet of elevation; pleas plan for two or three
hours to complete it.
this is a popular hike the dome is large so you will not feel overcrowded here.
Few general hiking guidelines:
established trails, pack out what you pack in, Overnight backpackers need a
wilderness permit, carry (and drink) plenty of water. Be sure to treat river,
stream, lake, or spring water.
parking lot, you will take out the trail from the north part of the lot. In
this section the trail climbs it way up in a nice pine forest. After 0.7 mile
of climbing the trail start to level, keep walking until you will reach a trail
junction, 0.9 mile from the trail head.
Here you can
hike straight for 0.35 mile and visit Dong Lake, from here you need to walk
back to the trail junction, overall, this out and back detour will add 0.7
miles to your loop hike.
Once you turn into
the main loop trail it wraps around the far side of Lembert Dome. After hiking
another 0.6 miles you will see the turnout trail to your right going up to the
hike section is out and back.
You will start
this climb in a forest but after gaining some elevation you reach the expose granite
trail marks and carefully walk across the granite face. You will reach the
first summit of the dome.
If you want to
walk from here to the front summit above the valley the trail become a lot
steeper, sketchier and exposed. Be extra careful in this hike section and
evaluate if you and your hiking group can do this section safely.
way up the massive, exposed granite slab until you will reach the top and you
will be reworded by the amazing panoramic view of Tuolumne Meadows below you
and the Cathedral Mountains Range on the far side of the valley.
here, resting, and enjoying the view you need to walk down the sideways angle
rock section and walk down to the trail junction in the forest. Here turn right
and walk down for 0.4 miles until you will reach the Tioga Pass Road, cross it
to the other side and walk to the nearby car parking lot (Lyell Canyon
Trailhead), from here to your car is 0.7-mile-long hike.
Walk to the
parking lot entrance and find the PCT trail that is heading west parallel to
the inner road. on your way you will pass the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness
Center, continue walking on the PCT all the way to the parking lot and the trailhead.
Lembert Dome is
a short hike with big reward. I highly recommend it as late afternoon hike,
ending your day with one of the most beautiful landscapes along the Tioga Road.
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