Summary: Located in Wawona, Chilnualna Falls is one of Yosemite's lesser-known treasures, at least it was to me. With all of the tourists heading to Yosemite Valley, that leaves this area pretty well un-occupied, by Yosemite standards. As with all of Yosemite waterfall hikes, this one has you climbing nearly the whole way, but it's low elevation, tree cover and ocasional flat stretches make this one more enjoyable. Be sure to bring plenty of water or plan to filter it as it can be pretty hot along the trail. As always, don't forget that camera!
For more details and photos visit my website The Backcountry: Chilnualna Falls.
Trailhead: Depending on your location, enter Yosemite National Park via Highway 41, 120 or 140. Be prepared to pay $20 for the entrance fee. Once in the park head to Wawona. From Wawona drive approximately 2 miles on the Chilnualna Falls Road until it ends. The road is located at the north end of the bridge crossing the Merced river. Park in the dirt "lot" to the right or along the road. (Lat:37.56441 Lon:-119.61563)
Trail Guides for Chilnualna Falls, Yosemite NP:
Yosemite National Park
by Jeffrey P. Schaffer (Wilderness Press)
by Tom Stienstra & Ann Marie Brown (Foghorn Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Yosemite Wilderness Center (209) 372-0740
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Mike Matenkosky, who has posted 18 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 2 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Greg&Sue on 6/6/2011
Hiked to the top of the falls Sunday, June 5th 2011. Great hike with many pleasurable scenes along the way in the forest. The transition from lower elevation dryer manzanita type foliage to the evergreen higher elevations was a great contrast. Got to the top of the falls for lunch, then returned. Trail in good condition but watch the small rocks and round twigs that tend to cause a slip. we are 60+ hikers so if you are in resonable conditon the elevation gain is worth the effort for the falls and the view. Dodged the bad weather this day but we had our rain gear as thunderstorms were predicted. AMAZING WATER FLOWS THIS YEAR! I did a high country backpack some years ago on the BenaVista loop and Chilnuala creek was almost dry.
Reviewed by Carol on 7/20/2010
Great hike, the view of the falls and river are very senic along the way. We hiked past the falls to the very top and fished the back side as well as fishing the lower falls area the next day. Well worth the effort, even in the summer heat.
Reviewed by AL on 4/20/2010
The hike is basically easy for experienced hikers except the first quarter mile. It's one of those "been there done that" hikes. The waterfalls is not as spectacular as Upper Yosemite Falls and not as magical as Vernal Fall. The only highlight for me is to stand up 5 feet away from the edge with 500 ft drop for a picture. This is definitely NOT a summer hike. It will very toasty.
Reviewed by KB on 11/29/2008
The first quarter mile was a bear,(I'm 57) but the rest of the trail was moderate to easy. It was a long trip up hill, but definitely worth the hike. On this vacation weekend (thanksgiving) more than 20 others thought it was worth the effort as well.
Reviewed by SHOSHANA on 10/26/2007
INCREDIBLE. I went backpacking up at wawona for two night last summer, and it was one of the most beautiful hikes i've ever been on. definately a favorite!
Reviewed by mike on 9/22/2007
A bit of a hike to the top, but the view was worth it.
Reviewed by Nickyv on 7/17/2007
This is a hidden gem. I've hiked this several times. There's very few people on the trail and some very panoramic vistas of the valley floor along the way. Bring the camera for plenty of photo ops. Plan on bringing a variety of snacks and brews for when you get to the top. In the mid summer you can take a dip in the swimming holes and relax as you knock back a few beers and recharge for the descent!!
Reviewed by Stacy on 6/21/2006
I make a point of taking this hike every year when I go to Yosemite (usually in mid-July). This is by far my favorite hike in Yosemite as the trail is not usually crowded and the scenery is constantly changing. I think the best time to hit the trail is around 6:00 a.m. as there are very few people on the trail and you beat the heat on the way up. It's great to have the swimming holes at the top all to yourself.
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