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 best used 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.
My girlfriend and I backpacked this trail in September 2015. we did two day to Johnson lake. got a late start so we didn't make it to Royal Arch. it is possible to make it to Johnson I. on day. it's about 14 mils. Good fishing and there was still water in most of the streams.
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.