Wondering where to get an elevated view of Tuolumne Meadows and the surrounding area? Look no further than the summit of the granite monolith of Lembert Dome. Rising 800 feet above the eastern edge of the meadow, Lembert Dome affords some of the best Panaromic views that Tuolumne Meadows has to offer.
The easiest route to access Lembert Dome is the Lembert Dome Loop, which gets your boots off a typical dirt trail and up onto the Dome’s scenic granite summit (there's also a quicker Class 3 ascent option climbing a line up the southeast face). The loop circumnavigates the dome, and a spur trail heads up the backside and onto the northeast shoulder, culminating in a world-class vista.
From the Lembert Dome Parking area, head north on Lembert Dome/Dog Lake Trail, which is marked by signage and located adjacent to the vault toilets. After some gradual climbing through a lodgepole pine forest, take the right fork at the Lembert Dome/Dog Lake junction. Continue circling around the back side of the dome while keeping an eye out for the spur trail that leads up the dome’s northeast shoulder. This spur trail junction is also signed.
The climb up Lembert Dome’s back side leaves behind the dirt at treeline and ascends the granite shoulder. The ascent is a walk-up route with borderline Class 2 climbing in a few places depending on the route taken, but it generally it shouldn’t pose a problem for anyone able to make the hike up to the back side of the dome. From the summit, panoramic views include all of Tuolumne Meadows, the Cathedral Range to the south, and the Sierra Crest peaks of Mount Dana, Mount Gibbs and the Mount Lyell glacier to the east. A bit of exploring around the summit offers additional vistas, just be careful not to get too close to steep terrain, there is plenty of it. To the west of the summit and a bit lower in elevation you'll find another fantastic viewpoint from which to take in the wonders of Tuolumne. The setting is hard to beat for a lunch or rest stop.
For the descent, retrace your steps back to the dirt trail and return to the loop, taking a right back at the junction. Continue down to Highway 120/Tioga Pass Road, cross it, and head south through the Dog Lake parking area. Here you’ll head west along the Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail, paralleling the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River. The trail leads past the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center and intersects again with Highway 120 across from the Lembert Dome parking area where your adventure began.