Are you looking for a perfect hiking destination in California? Pohono Trail in the Yosemite Valley might be a perfect option for you!
Phono is a beautiful 13-mile trail that is nestled in the South of Yosemite Valley. It begins from Tunnel View and ends at Glacier Point. It offers some of the most stunning viewpoints in the region including the Taft Point, Dewey Point, Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome. You can approach this hike in a number of different ways with easy access to the trail. It’s a very forgiving hike that is perfect for the individuals who want to spend some quality time in the lap of nature without worrying about the city rush. You can either plan a camping trip to cover the entire trail or head over for a single day hike starting from the Glacier Point.
Whatever option you choose, this guide covers everything you need to know before planning your Pohono Trail hiking trip. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Pohono Trail Hike Basic Details
Distance: 13 miles (21 kilometers)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Elevation : 2,020 ft.
Trail Type: Point to Point
Time Required: 5 – 10 Hours
How To Approach Pohono Trailhead
There are three main spots to cover along Pohono Trail. Starting from the Yosemite Valley: Tunnel View, Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome.
Yosemite Valley to Tunnel View:
From Yosemite Valley, move forward on Highway 41. After passing just a mile from the Southern Drive junction, you’ll come across the Tunnel View. Park your car in the parking lot situated on the left-hand side and head on to the trailhead situated beside the trash cans.
Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point:
Head on Highway 41 again and keep going until you leave behind the Tunnel View and hit the Glacier Point junction rd.
Take a left turn on the Glacier Point rd and after driving past 10 miles, you’ll be able to find the beautiful Glacier Point.
Yosemite Valley To Sentinel Dome trailhead:
Head on Highway 41 and after crossing Tunnel View and Glacier Point rd, you’ll arrive at the Sentinel Dome trailhead. On reaching the Glacier Point rd, take a left turn and drive for 8 miles until you spot the Sentinel Dome.
Pohono Trail : 3 Best Single Day Hikes
If you don’t have limited time and can’t manage to plan a several day trip, you can easily go for single day hikes on Pohono trailhead. There are a couple of great one-day hikes that have plenty of scenic beauty and expansive views to offer. Some of these include the iconic Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Clark Range and Mt. Starr King.
Here are the top one-day hikes on the Pohono Trail you can consider :
1. Sentinel Dome
Sentinel Dome is the easiest but a fun and interesting single day hike on Pohono trail Yosemite. Begin from the Sentinel Dome, trail off to the Glacier Point road. Then simply follow the signs of the parking area to complete the trail. You can easily follow the trail up to the Glacier Point rd. that will further take you to the Glacier Point. From the junction, take a left turn towards the dome and climb approx. 400 ft. This will get you to one of the most iconic views of Yosemite National Park. Follow the steps back to get to the parking lot on your way down.
2. From Glacier Point to Sentinel Dome
Start from the Glacier Point parking lot. A good idea is to check out the nearby views by taking a short walk around the parking lot. Don’t forget to check out the breathtaking beauty of Glacier Point before heading towards the Sentinel Dome. Come back to the Glacier Point and cross the Lodge and look for the trailhead sign near the stadium kind of seating area. On finding the trailhead sign, follow the path and you’ll be able to reach the Sentinel Dome. After crossing just 1 mile, you’ll reach the trail junction. From there climb approx. 400 ft. to treat yourself with a scenic view of El Capitan, Clark Range and also the Yosemite Valley. Follow your steps to come down to the Glacier Point parking lot.
3. From Glacier Point To Taft Point
This hike starts the same as that of Sentinel Dome. On reaching the Glacier Point, follow the signboards to reach Sentinel Dome. Take a minute to climb the dome, come down and then trail towards the parking lot of the dome.
From here, you need to head on West where the Taft Point is located, it’s an easy 1.2-mile hike from there. Taft Point is a beautiful viewpoint in the Yosemite Valley. The main highlights include the Three Brothers, El Capitan and Upper Yosemite Falls.
Consider Getting Hiking Tours To Make The Most Out Of Your Yosemite Valley Visit
If you don’t want to waste a lot of time in searching and finding the ways, there are plenty of day hike tours and multi-day guided trips available in the Rocky Mountain National Park. These guided hikes and tours include meals, gear (trekking poles, backpack, crampons etc), accommodation (for multi-day trip), transportation and an experienced guide. Guides with their experience and storytelling skills can make your trip fun and enjoyable.
Backpacking Trip In Pohono
Backpacking is an excellent way to explore the Pohono Trail. You’ll be able to see the Southern Rim of Yosemite Valley from a different perspective. Some of the most beautiful views you’ll be able to see are the Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Clark Range and of course the Half Dome. While these could be covered in a single day hike, we recommend taking your time and doing it in 3 days, starting from Tunnel View and ending at the Glacier Point. This 3-day trip will involve a good amount of climb but will also provide you with a great hiking experience. Plus you will get the opportunity to explore the beautiful areas around the valley by having a closer look.
Consider Getting A Guided Backpacking Trip To Yosemite National Park
Again, if you want to save yourself from all the hassle of planning the trip and then exploring the areas without having any prior knowledge about them, consider joining a backpacking tour. It is a simple and hassle-free way of spending some time in beautiful mother nature. All you need to do is join the tour by paying a small fee. After that everything from your gear to your meals and accommodations will be taken care of by the management team. Another advantage of going with expert guides is that they will provide you with a ton of advice and knowledge about the ecology and history of the places you traverse.
What Is The Best Time to Hike On Pohono Trailhead?
Although you can visit Pohono any time you like, the best time according to a majority of regular visitors is May to October. During these months, the weather remains pleasant and perfect for hiking and camping. Because Pohono is situated in the South side of Yosemite Valley, there is a lot of snow and ice in winters. That’s why we recommend planning your visit in late summer to early fall. Also, the Highway 41, Tunnel View is open throughout the year but Glacier Point rd stays closed for some time due to snow. So, before planning your trips to Glacier Point, make sure it is open at that time.
Do You Need Any Permits For Hiking In The Yosemite Valley?
You don’t need to have a permit for a single day hike in the Yosemite National Park. However, for a multi-day backpacking trip, you will need one. You can reserve your permits 6-month in advance of your desired date. You can also secure a permit on an urgent basis, a day before your trek by getting it in person from the permit center.
Recommended Packing List For Pohono Trail Camping ,Hiking / Backpacking
To make your visit to Yosemite National Park more comfortable and worth remembering, pack all the essential gear and equipment beforehand. Here is a list of essentials you shouldn’t miss :
- Reusable Water Bottle with a minimum capacity of 5 liters
- Crampons (in winters)
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses
- Trekking poles
- Warm t-shirts (winter)
- Cotton t-shirt (spring to fall)
- Warm jacket (in winter)
- Raincoat, umbrella
- First aid box
- Calorie rich snacks
For Backpacking Trip
Consider getting all the above-mentioned items plus the ones given below :
- Bigger backpack
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Backpacking meals
- Backpacking stove +fuel
- Extra clothes
- Insect repellent
Pohono Trail Yosemite is a beautiful place for hiking and backpacking around Yosemite Valley. It is a calm and composed destination that is away from the distraction and rush of the valley. You get an opportunity to see and explore plenty of beautiful viewpoints and landscapes of the valley. If you don’t want to take the stress of planning your trips and hikes, consider booking the guided tours to have a straightforward and simple hiking or backpacking experience. Pohono is definitely a must-visit destination in the Yosemite Valley.