Located within Yosemite National Park, Taft Point offers spectacular views from one of the highest viewpoints around. It isn’t however for the faint hearted!
I recently walked the Taft Point trail and found it to be the best hike I took during my short stay in the park.
Taft Point trailhead
If you follow a map or sat nav it will take you along Glacier Point Road to the car parking area for Taft Point and Sentinel Dome (both trails start from here). Note however that there are very few spaces and so the majority of people park up along each side of the road.
At the trailhead there is a single toilet block and a couple of information boards for you to read.
The Taft Point trail is a descent, dropping 60m from 2,345m at the trailhead to 2,285m at Taft Point itself. At just 2.2 miles on a round trip, it is also a fairly quick hike which won’t require you blocking out an entire morning or afternoon.
Under foot, everything is on a shallow gradient so there’s no climbing to be done. There aren’t really any steep sections along the trail either so it is an easy walk by all accounts – I did the route in trainers with no issues at all.
There are a few rocky sections along the way as per my photos and the occasional stone to trip up on but certainly not anything unmanageable.
Along the trail there’s lots of wildlife, rock formations and other interesting things to look at to keep you interested.
As you make your way out of the forest into the clearing, the trail steepens a little with a lot of rocks under foot however again, this isn’t anything particularly challenging.
Glacier Point without the barriers
That’s how this trail is often referred to and it is no exaggeration. The Taft Point trail is very safe however as you approach Taft Point itself, things become very dangerous.
Unlike other viewpoints around the National Park, Taft Point has no safety wall/barriers and has only a single metal railing at the highest point as shown below. And it is high. Like, really high.
There are numerous very steep cliff edges around, and it is an awfully long way down to the valley floor. Get too close and you’d stand no chance from these heights. There of course plenty of idiots who like to take the chance with their life like this guy who after this shot was taken started jumping to show off in front of his mates. It’s no wonder that people die here.
However that’s what makes Taft Point so enticing for so many. It’s a real environment that is largely untouched. People also come here to challenge/test their vertigo and from what I experienced and saw from others, everyone suffers from vertigo here!
If you are planning to come here with young children you will want to keep them on a very very tight leash, in fact I would probably advise against coming here at all unless you trust them not to run off as you’ll be a nervous wreck with them being curious about what’s over the edge.
When I visited in late September it’s also worth noting that there were a lot of wasps flying around at Taft Point so you may find yourself jumping around a bit and swatting at them! Couple panicked wasp swatting with cliff edges and, well, you get the picture.
Is it worth visiting? What’s the view like?
You’re probably in Yosemite National Park because you love the great outdoors and you love walking. If that’s the case there isn’t anything to dislike about the Taft Point Trail. Other than vertigo of course.
The only downside to my experience was that aside from getting nauseous bouts of vertigo, when I was there in late September there were a lot of wasps around – not the best when faced with such steep drops!
All things considered however, like a handful of other people, I managed to pluck up the courage to go up to the viewpoint barrier (very gingerly I might point out!) and get to experience the full panoramic view in all of its glory. There was a real pattern of hikers arriving from the forest, seeing the viewpoint and edge and then tentatively approaching the barrier before giving up!
The view from the edge was completely worth it – stunning.
My overall experience of walking the Taft Point Trail was a really positive one. It was an easy walk and at the end of it, Taft Point offered spectacular views. If you’re heading to Yosemite National Park this year, make sure you go take a look.
If you liked this post, be sure to take a look at my Yosemite National Park page which has plenty of other experiences and tips for your stay.
Have you visited Taft Point or planning to in the future? Let us know in the comments!