“Stunning views of El Capitan, Half Dome, and the Cathedral Rocks without the crowds of Tunnel View.”
— David Hitchcock
Views · Wildflowers
The trail is closed when Highway 41 is closed between Yosemite Valley and Wawona, which can happen in the winter and spring depending on the weather.
The trail is great for running as it is relatively free from obstacles as it is an access road to the weather monitoring stations on the top of Turtleback Dome.
The Turtleback Dome Trail is located on the Wawona Road roughly 4 miles from the Bridalveil Falls parking lot. The trail is on the east side of the road where there is parking for a couple of cars, depending on how people park. Additional parking can be found along Wawona Road in the pullouts found there.
The trail departs Highway 41 as a dirt road and passes a gate that prevents people from driving up to the summit. After passing the gate, the trail transforms to a concrete road that runs all the way to the weather station and provides access for workers. The trail runs parallel to Highway 41 (Wawona Road) for roughly a tenth of a mile before curving to the left and beginning a steady climb uphill. Wildflowers bloom along the road on the left. There are dead trees on the right hand side of the trail due to a fire that moved through the area. The trail is shaded by trees at this point as it winds its way uphill. The dome begins to rise above the trail on the left as it moves through the woods. At roughly .4 miles, the trail cuts back to the left and climbs gently around the hilltop.
At this point, the weather monitoring station comes into view. As you approach the station, views of El Portal to the west come into view. As you approach the weather station, the trail goes off to the left toward a large glacial erratic that sits off to the side. The trail becomes a narrow, dirt singletrack as it cuts to the right side of the rock. The trail continues out to another weather monitoring station that sits further out on the dome.
Going past this second station, the best views from Turtleback Dome spread out before you. To the east, El Capitan
and Half Dome
rise above Yosemite Valley. While the view doesn't include Bridalveil Falls like Tunnel View
, it offers a view similar to Half Dome
View without the crowds. Working around to the west, Tamarack Falls, Cascade Falls and Wildcat Falls work their way down toward the Merced River. You can see the damage of the Foresta Fire on the hilltops that line Highway 120. Off to the west, sweeping views of the hills around El Portal come into view. Glacial erratics sit on the dome year after year, some seemingly perched there ready to slide off at any point. Once you've taken in the view, follow the trail back to your car.
While the view may not be unique, it offers you the opportunity to enjoy a stunning view of El Capitan
and Half Dome
without the crowds.
Flora & Fauna
Deer, rabbits, squirrels can be seen along the trail. Wildflowers bloom along the trail in the spring.