Chilnualna Falls Trail is a 7.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite National Park, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, birding, horses, and backpacking and is accessible from March until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Hike this lesser-known trail to discover Chilnualna Falls with a wading pool and cascades waiting at the top. Chilnuala Falls is a well-kept secret in Yosemite, simply because the majority of visitors to Yosemite National Park don't venture out of the Valley. If you are staying in Wawona, or have entered Yosemite through the South Entrance, then Chilnualna Falls is on your way down to the valley. Like most waterfall hikes in Yosemite (Lower Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall excluded) you start below the waterfall and must hike up it, which means significant elevation gain. The trail starts around 4,000ft and you will hike up 2,200 feet to 6,200ft by the time you reach the top of the falls. The Falls are separated into 2 distinct sections: the shorter section is on top, and consists of several smaller waterfalls, leading into a pool before falling another 240ft final drop, a total of about 690ft. Unfortunately, you never get a clear view of the entire falls, and it is hard to even see the longer fall in its entirety except from the top (and you won't want to get too close to the edge). Luckily the pool and falls at the top are more than worth the steep 4-mile climb up.
Straight up but well worth the hike. Late summer, when the falls have slowed down, you can swim at the top edge!! It's beautiful.
If done in the full distance, as I did, it will be rather strenuous. Lots of inclined switchbacks with little to no river view for about 2/4 of the time. The long haul is worth the climb though. there is about 3 pools to stop at and the tallest has a plethora of holes to swim in. CAUTION!!! These pools that move slower than the rest of the river do have leeches in them. Check your body before you decide to go back down. bring water and walking sticks will help a ton.
Awesome chest deep pool midway up the falls. Well worth the hike!
We did only the first part of the trail, to the lower falls, and it was great. Only about a 45 minute hike total, which was all we needed this day. Our five year old did awesome on the hike. Not crowded at all.
We hiked up with the plan to spend the night at the top and then continue on the trail for five days. We found such a nice spot with a secluded pond not too far from the falls that we stayed there the entire time. Beautiful!
Was a very nice view at the end. A little tough on the way up, but just took a few breaks along the way. Would definitely do this one again!
This was a bit difficult, but doable! We made it to where the water falls are close up and the area has a rocky open area. We had lunch and then headed back down! Amazing views and spent the day with some great friends. We all felt it was an awesome hike and shouldn't be missed!
Thoroughly enjoyed this trail. Hiked it April 30. Started early and had the trail to ourselves. Very cool but as the day wore on the layers came off. The falls were really flowing. Had a picnic lunch above the falls where there was still snow. The sun was warming. On the hike back there were many people coming up. Bring water.
loved this trail. my group are in their 60s and 70s. the trail is shaded by the trees and this was very welcome as it was 80 F. the slope is very gradual. you scarcely feel the 2.300 feet go by.
we completed the ascent in just 2 hrs and 20 minutes.
the views of the lower falls are the best.
Incredible! Service is spotty. Lost recording on All Trails and Strava. Hike was awesome. So worth it.
Think the hike is closer to 4.5 in and out, totaling close to 9 mi round trip.
It was a great trail away from the bustle and activity in the valley area. Spectacular views from the waterfalls
Went 5.6 up to the wilderness camping area and spent the night. It was an awesome trail that was not too difficult. Wanted to go on into the high country before camping but the trails to both Buck and Deer camp were not visable due to snow pack. Went in March, the only person up there, and when the sun set Im pretty sure I was the only human for 5 miles. An amazing experience.
I am from mariposa and this is one of my favorite hikes so beautiful and it has so many pools. Be careful in the winter time it does get dangerous at the top can be very slippery
Beautiful scenery and plenty of spots to take a quick swim!
Gorgeous hike with breathtaking vistas. I'm going to call it strenuous, although I just completed it on an 85 degF day while 5 months pregnant and hauling a 30 lb backpack. It took my husband and I about 5 1/2 hours to reach the top of the falls and then additional time to find and set our camp. It took less than half the time for the descent the following day though. One of the best parts about the trail is the abundance of crystal clear mountain pools to take a dip or just soak your feet, and since there is a constant, vigorous flow, the water is safe to drink - we confirmed at the visitors center when we picked up our wilderness pass that the water IS potable. We drank it straight from the falls for 2 days. It's ice cold and refreshing! Although the trail was strenuous (I am still recovering!), I would definitely do it again (AFTER the baby comes) and hopefully spend some more time exploring the deeper wilderness trails at the top. The site says it's a 7 mile round trip, but it's actually 4.1 miles from the trailhead which starts at the top of a steep granite stairway built into the base of the falls, making it about an 8.5 mi round trip - a bit long for a day hike if you aren't properly conditioned. Many people just stop to visit the base section, which is dramatic all by itself, but I definitely recommend sticking it out all the way to the top. Wilderness area (where you can camp) starts 5.6 miles from the parking area on Chilnualna Falls Rd.
Nice mellow hike, I hiked this in early November while camping in Wawona. Even that late in the season there was a decent amount of traffic. Plenty of places to take a freezing dip along the trail. I took this opportunity and jumped into a pool that had a nice rock to stand on and get pummeled by a waterfall above. I'm sure this would be impossible earlier in the season. So I guess this is a better hike in the summer when the falls has more volume.
In terms of beauty and uniqueness, this trail matched even that of Half Dome but was totally different in it's own way. Starts out pretty steep and loved the Manzano trees that were in abundance and the nearby falls for the first hour. You will quickly ascend into the forest of big pine trees and will discover the beauty of ground carpet called mountain misery. Look like a fern with white showy flowers and the stems are woody. The trail in this area had a fine layer of freshly fallen ponderosa pine needles and was a very picturesque scene. Ran into a frightened couple from Europe who had just showed me the rattlesnake on their phone camera that caused them to turn around...glad they beat me to it as it was coiled up in the middle of the trail. Took us about 2.5 hours to get to the Falls up top and what a sensation. One pool after another with cascading water. Very special place and no one else was in sight for the hour we we spent on top. Made it back down in 1 hr. 35 min. It's mountain lion country so just be aware. Was a challenging day especially considering we had hiked 5 or 6 miles in the Mariposa Grove that morning.