Butterflies and wildflowers
Todd · NYC · June 10, 2018
Hiked June 9, 2018. Got a late start for a variety of reasons so didn't get to the trailhead until 11am, just before a respectable crowd of day hikers. The backpacker and day parking areas were both quite full. The hike was made magical by a large influx of butterflies swooping among the many different wildflowers on the trail. Wapama Falls is still soaking the bridges (though not running over in a dangerous way) so yes you will get refreshingly wet - but this is really the most intimate encounter I had with a waterfall at Yosemite and definitely a more fun hike than I had assumed from the lukewarm write-ups. The butterflies made it a magical day to end our Yosemite trip.
A different Yosemite experience
Mike Friedman · Santa Clarita, CA · July 21, 2013
Hike date: June 5, 2012
If you are looking for a quieter, less-crowded Yosemite trip that still provides some spectacular waterfalls, and some very manageable hikes (moderate to strenuous), Hetch Hetchy may be your Nirvana. The first view of the dam makes you wonder how much time and effort it took to build that thing in the early 20th century. Your second thought may be disappointment as you will undoubtedly wonder what the Hetch Hetchy valley looked like before the dam was built (when John Muir was still alive and fighting for its existence). Once you get past the sadness, the Wapama Falls hike is a lot of fun. We did not see any snakes, but I hear they are lurking, so it's good to look down once in while. The hike (if you just do Wapama Falls) is relatively flat, with a few minor ups and downs to make it feel like a real hike. Wapama Falls will surprise you, especially when you consider that they would be 400 feet longer without the dam. Wapama Falls, when raging (usually May and June), is a large waterfall with cascades near the bottom, which makes it visually different from Yosemite Falls (a little more violent), especially because you can stand right beneath the falls (depending on how wet you want to get). High snowpack winters can make the trail dangerous close to the falls (at the bridges), so if you are planning to make the longer hike to Rancheria Falls, check the National Park Service website to see if the trail is passable at Wapama Falls. Hetch Hetchy can be a long drive depending on where you are coming from, and there is not the variety of sights that you get in Yosemite Valley or off Tioga Road, but it is a unique part of Yosemite that should not be missed, with enough hiking to fill a few days.
Don’t overlook Hetch Hetchy or this great hike
Robert & Susan Dunn · Little Rock, Arkansas · September 27, 2012
This enjoyable hike includes a couple of fairly strenuous segments, including the rocky descent just before reaching Wapama Falls. Nice views throughout the trail – especially Kolana Rock, which is seen from a variety of angles along the way. Unfortunately, Tueeulala Falls was already dry by the time we hiked this trail. (Good thing it wasn’t our only destination!)
Wapama Falls itself is definitely worth the time and energy involved to get there. We hiked to a point just beyond the trio of footbridges at the falls, then turned around (after a snack break) and headed back. It was getting cloudy as we neared the falls (the only day of our entire trip with any clouds to speak of), and we were glad we headed back when we did, because it began to rain (lightly) as we were leaving the Hetch Hetchy area.
O’Shaughnessy Dam is impressive; take the time to read the informative panels along the walkway. Walking through the long tunnel beyond the dam is a unique experience.
Apparently, the trail to Wapama Falls is considerably longer and more strenuous than many of those hiking it realize. It isn’t the Four Mile Trail, but it’s no effortless “nature walk,” either. Proper footwear and plenty of water are essential, as is sunscreen. (Bug spray and energy snacks would also be a good idea.)
Hetch Hetchy has a completely different character than other areas of Yosemite National Park, and the hike to Wapama Falls is an excellent opportunity to explore this relatively remote section of the park.
Stroll Through Beautiful Scenery to an Exciting Waterfall
Randy and Lauren Wagner · Tulsa, OK · July 22, 2011
This is my second favorite hike in Yosemite after Vernal/Nevada Falls. This hike has a nice variety of easy up and down terrain, unlike the steep hikes out of Yosemite Valley. It has a nice variety of woods and meadows, shady and sunny, all along side of the beautiful reservoir. This one is a little long for the kids, although they will enjoy crossing the dam and going through the tunnel. Take plenty of water, wear sunscreen and your good hiking boots. We saw two rattlesnakes the day we hiked, so be alert. We were fortunate to hike this trail in a year when Yosemite had 200% normal snowpack, so both falls were full even in July. Tueeulala is pretty, but Wapama is thrilling when it crashes over the four footbridges. A month before we hiked, two hikers were swept off of the bridges by the force of the water, so use good judgement when deciding to start across the bridges.