Take this fairly short and gentle hike to a novel perch atop a granite giant that commands an inspiring view of Tuolumne Meadows. Though the slanted traverse across granite may feel awkward, it requires no climbing expertise and many hikers make it each day in summer. The adventure can be extended to include a stop at Dog Lake.
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Parking: Dog Lake Trailhead
Trailhead elevation: 8,950 feet
Lembert Dome: elevation 9,450 feet
Best season: June through October
Permits: none needed
Hiking the hike
Hike northeast from Dog Lake parking area, cross Tioga Road and up the switchbacks beyond it. Turn left at the trail junction to begin your ascent on the east slope of Lembert Dome.
The view quickly becomes grand as hikers climb above the trees, but it’s just a preview of the glory to come. Still ahead is the summit, which looks like a rounded knob. Hike west across the sloped granite towards its left side. To avoid its steep eastern face, aim slightly left to circle clockwise around the knob. Pass by the southern slope and instead ascend the gentler west face. Cathedral Peak, Mount Conness, Ragged Peak and Mount Lyell are a few of the summits you can see on a clear day, plus the pristine Tuolumne River.
You could retrace your steps to return to the parking area, but if you’ve come this far already, consider visiting Dog Lake. Descend to the trail junction and turn left. Your path leads past the north face of Lembert Dome to a second junction. Turn right to climb slightly to the 9,170-foot lake, a great place to swim and eat lunch.
The shortest way back is to retrace your steps, but to loop around Lembert Dome adds only a half mile more. After leaving the lake, turn right at the trail junction to descend to Lembert Dome parking area. Cross Tioga Road and either take the trail or hike beside the highway to return to Dog Lake parking area. The entire journey including the summit, the lake and the loop adds up to about five miles.
Hang onto your hat on the summit, it’s windy up there!
Dog Lake’s fishing alone makes it worth a visit.