Chilnualna Falls Trail Hiker Reviews

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Relentless into the granite
 ·  Santa Rosa ·  November 5, 2021

We hiked the first weekend in November. The fall color was spectacular. The trail was steep, as advertised, but the grades weren't horrible and the footing was excellent. Getting out into the granite made my heart sing. The falls were falling, the sky was blue and I was happy. If you are camping at the lake, though, stop using soap to bathe. Jerks.

Good hiking in Southern Yosemite
 ·  San Jose, CA ·  August 18, 2020

Parked car just below the brown Chilnualna Falls TH sign and headed up at 5 pm, Aug 14, 90 deg heat, and a 30 lb pack. Luckily it's shaded. The rock stairs aren't fun, but end soon. I've backpacked a lot, and went to the top of the falls one warm Dec day years ago when the flow was intense. It wasn't much this time. I saw no other hikers once I got 1/2 mile in. Just short of the top a rattlesnake crossed the trail. The pools at the top looked refreshing, but at 7:30p I needed to make camp/eat. At least 10 other tents were up there, mostly on the rocky/sandy slope West of the creek. Those on the slope's ridge had great views of Wawona and first sun. Next morning went up the creek, then N to Deer Camp, and down Alder Creek, a 26 mile loop. It was scenic up to Deer Camp. Should have made a U-turn there. Next time I'll use C. Falls TH to do the Buena Vista loop.

Chilnualna Falls Trail
 ·  San Diego ·  July 14, 2019

I wanted to enjoy a nice hike in the afternoon but also wanted a waterfall experience. This hike definitely covered all of my desires and was quite the workout as well, without realizing it until the return portion and final 1/10 of the hike. Easy to follow trail with stone steps in various portions throughout the journey and spectacular views at decent intervals. Not very steep overall but the actual length (4.1 miles one-way) of the trail may be more than some can handle so it is rarely very busy. I crossed a group of through-hikers setting up camp for the night at the top of the waterfall. Words can't describe the feeling up there and I imagine awakening to that view first thing in the morning makes being human appreciated a little more. I will definitely be giving that a try this summer.

A True Classic!
 ·  Monterey Park, CA ·  June 18, 2019

Completed 6/15/2019. This hike doesn't get the love it deserves. The first 0.5 miles is a perilous trek up steep uneven steps with a raging cascade up close and personal. It will jump start your adrenaline for sure. It can be avoided on the way down by taking the not scenic but easy horse trail. What follows is a gradual ascent through meadows teaming with wildflowers, birds and the occasional alligator lizard. There are also charming small cascades and creeks that give the journey a Lord of the Rings feel. Although it would take a drone to get a complete view of all this fall's drops at once, its shyness is part of the appeal. It has a unique voice you catch at the top and an unmatched forest view that rivals the more popular destinations. This is a stark contrast to the similar elevation gain at Yosemite Falls. Long easier switchbacks as opposed to steep ones make this a must for waterfall fans and Yosemite nerds alike. Don't miss it!

Beautiful hike
 ·  Visalia ·  April 28, 2019

Beautiful hike with a whole lot of uphill..

I recommend starting at 7 am to avoid the heat..

Bring plenty of WATER!

Also, the distance is deceiving..

You hike a good way up stairs along the river and further before actually reaching the trail sign..our actual hike was 10 miles....

If you are scared of heights, this will be a challenging trail for you....

There are some narrow stairs with no handrails and some narrow trail with slippery leaf litter towards the beginning of the trail..

LOVED this trail.

It was rated as more challenging than mist trail, but I disagree.

Lovely hike!
 ·  Bakersfield CA ·  June 14, 2016

First, I loved reading the descriptions of these hikes. They were not only accurate, but hilarious.

I highly recommend getting up early for this hike, that way you will have it all to yourself in the cool morning hours. When you get to the top you can eat lunch (yes do bring lunch) and admire the dogwood flowers and wade in the stream. On your way back you will pass hikers sweating and panting up the moderately steep trail in the sun.

Wonderful views, semi-hard climb
 ·  San Francisco ·  February 12, 2015

This hike beautiful beautiful beautiful. The view of the valley from the top, as well as the never-ending granite cascades. I highly recommend it, I did it when I was in middle school.

Few people, many rewards
 ·  Los Angeles ·  January 7, 2015

We have a cabin in Wawona, so we are a bit prejudiced. Nevertheless, I have done this hike in every season, and summer or spring are the most dramatic, although summer, when there is water in the pools at the top in which to cool your feet, is the best. The initial approach is fairly steep stairs, thereafter the walk is through woodlands and the view from the top is great. There are seldom people on the trail, and it is a lovely walk in the woods.

Awesome Hike
 ·  Turlock ·  July 2, 2014

I read the reviews before I went on this hike so I was expecting it to be very difficult, to my surprise it wasn't as bad as the reviews made it sound. The very beginning was the hardest. It is a very beautiful hike with a lot of shade on the trail, which made it nice since it was the end of June. There was not very much water at the top since we had a very dry year. I will definitely do this hike again when there is more water.

Hiked this on June 28, 2014.

Worth the hike
 ·  Orange, CA ·  May 21, 2013

I've done this hike twice now. The first time it was super difficult and at one point I felt like I had lost the trail so be careful because it's not marked very well. The hike isn't for the faint of heart - prepare to use your whole body on this hike. The size of this fall is amazing and I just love to listen to the roaring of the water. Have your camera ready at the beginning of the fall as it's the place to take pictures of it.

Happy Trails everyone & be safe!

Awesome but hard hike
 ·  Silicon Valley, CA ·  March 9, 2013

We went up with groups of school kids last week. It was raining and snowing which made the hike extremely challenging but it was very satisfying in the end. Yes, please pack plenty of water and make sure you are dressed well for the weather in case you are going in colder times.

 ·  NAS Lemoore ·  September 16, 2012

We decided to try something new and challenging. Little did we know what we were in for. We thought the first 1/2 mile was the worst, however we were very wrong. We made that right turn somewhere along that trail and were looking straight up at this insane "hill"! The views were AMAZING, and the weather was great as well! We were just unprepared for the strenuous nature of this trail! When they say the elevation increases 2300 feet, they are NOT kidding and it seems like it increases all at once! We will most definitely be doing this trail again when A) we are in much better shape and B) we get walking sticks. They are a MUST on this trail! All in all, it is a great trail, just bring plenty of water and be prepared for a very intense hike!

Fun, hard hike
 ·  Los Angeles, CA ·  August 27, 2012

This hike was so much fun. Bring plenty of water and leave early in the morning. Up hill is hard, down hill is much easier (obviously). The views and the pools below the upper fall are well worth the effort but it is not an easy stroll by any means.

Chilnualna Falls Hike
 ·  Turlock, CA ·  August 7, 2012

I love this hike! I have done it at least 5 times. Better in Spring before the falls dry up. It is a great mixture of different hiking "microclimates" - there is the beginning steep stair step, a nice meadow section, knarly switchbacks at the top and much pleasant scenery the entire way. I highly recommend it if you are in good shape, breathing toward the top requires frequent rest stops for me, but you can get downhill in half the time it takes to go up. Take plenty of water and a picnic for the top. You will want to stay for awhile - it is so beautiful!

Beautiful :)
 ·  Oakhurst, CA ·  June 4, 2012

Well so far I've done this hike twice, once in August and the other in June. I found June to be the better of the times as there is so much more water making the falls that much better! When I did go in August it was neat as well because you could actually see the pools of water at the upper falls and stick your feet in after the hike. I love the hike as well just because it's enough to give you a good workout but totally worth it in the end! It's a good warm up hike to get you back in shape before tackling some of the other hikes in Yosemite. You'll love the fact that there isn't as much of a crowd but it still has wonderful waterfalls. I will always continue to make this hike a part of my routine when hiking in Yosemite!

Great conditioning hike for Upper Yosemite Falls
 ·  Clovis, CA ·  May 13, 2012

My wife and I wanted to hike to Upper Yosemite Falls but needed to get in shape. We found that this hike is just what is needed to build our endurance and test our fortitude. The first part of the hike (spring) is spectactular with crashing waterfalls and steep climbing. After getting past the initial climb the trail climbs to a plateau area with plenty of kick back areas next to the river feeding the forementioned waterfalls. You could easily stop here and go back and have a great time and a fairly short hike of a couple of hours. If you continue up to the upper falls the hike becomes a relentless climb with another nice fairly flat area just before the long part. Be prepared for a long day. Bring plenty of supplies. Once on top you will have a sense of accomplishment as this hike is fairly challenging. Now you gotta come down.

Chilnualna Falls Trail
 ·  Chicago ·  February 1, 2012

Great hike, because it includes both a great view of the waterfall at multiple points and has many parts of the trail that are just wilderness. My son and I did this last year (2011) but we only made it 1/2 way up because it was getting dark. Looking forward to doing the whole hike this year. Also, we went in July when parts of the park are very crowded and we only saw 4 people the whole time.

Worth The Long Trek
 ·  Hanford, CA ·  September 23, 2011

Went on this hike mid September 2011. Group of 8. Ages 20-32. Weather was perfect. Started at about 11:30am. Stopped for snack about 1 3/4 miles into trail. Had planned to eat lunch at the falls but took too long going up. Ended up eating on trail. Well appointed trails. Not crowded at all. Could have stopped to swim at a pool on the way but decided to keep going. Had never been on this hike before. There was a point where my hubby said "See that waterfall? That's our destination." Everyone was like "yeah right". Hubby was jk but little did we know that it really was. Hard getting up but it was totally worth it. The falls were small but beautiful. Water was not high so we were able to navigate the rocks and get to the small waterfall at the backside of the falls. A couple of us went swimming. Navigated our way back to the trail to go back down and there was a tiny pool with a tiny cascade just before the 240 ft drop. So appealing. It looked like a little spa. So we all got in again. It was about 4:30 pm when we started back down. We hustled on the way down. Didn't want to get caught on the trail after dark. The trek down was killer on the joints. Easier on the muscles. Overall it was a great hike. I like the time of year we chose. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much earlier in the year with high water.


-go at this time of year

-take more water or take water bottles with filter and fill up at the falls or take water cleansing tablets for your bottles if you decide to refill at the falls

-start earlier in the day

-take extra clothing and socks in case you decide to take a dip in the pools

-take hiking poles, think this would have been helpful on the way down

wonderful hike
 ·  Central Valley California  ·  June 27, 2011

My friend Richard Hedges and I did this hike on Sunday June 26, 2011. A wonderful hike and it will be beautiful to have it done when there is gashing depends on the winter of the previous year you can determine when to hike this trail. It took us 4 hours to hike up there and 2 hours to hike down. It is difficult yet it is a pleasant hike. Lots of wild flowers and beautiful scenery. Enjoy if you do this hike.