Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

MODERATE 4 reviews
#39 of 142 trails in

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is a 46.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Long Barn, CA that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible from May until October.

46.8 miles 10526 feet Loop

camping

hiking

lake

views

no dogs

This is a rugged overnight backpack into the North country of Yosemite dropping in from Tuolumne Meadows into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Done at the beginning of Spring is best due to the high volume of water but be ready for some river fording through some very icy temperatures. It begins at an elevation just under 9,000' and drops to a low elevation of 4,500' almost 19 miles later at Pate Valley. Coming up out of Pate Valley heading towards Harden Lake is an elevation gain of almost 4,550' in just under 8 or so miles, be prepared for some thigh quivering demands. During the hike you'll pass a series of waterfalls starting with White Cascade Falls followed by Tuolumne Falls, California Falls, Le Conte Falls and finally the geological wonder, Waterwhell Falls, where the water flows down over a series of grooves in the rocks that can propel the water close to 20' into the air in a counter clock wise wheel, really spectacular.

hiking
1 year ago

Hiked from Tuolumne Meadows, from the Glen Aulin trailhead to White Wolf campground over the course of three days at the end of September. Slept at the backpacker's camp in the meadows the night before our hike. With the dry conditions in California, the waterfalls were not the majestic beasts they could be. But with the low water levels it was cool to see the way the rock has been artistically shaped by the erosion caused by the water. Also gave us some great natural pools to take a dip in, which were great mid-day and end of day refreshers. This is a great trail if you're looking to take in the views in a more lightly trodden area of the park. Mind you it was late in the season, but we must've only ran into 10-15 people while we were on the trail.
It's amazing how much the landscape can change from a granite rock trail, to a forest of sequoias or grove of aspens, to a desert dry trail in a matter of miles. The last day's climb up from Pate Valley to White Wolf was definitely hard work for day 3, but was enjoyable nonetheless.
Wouldn't have minded making this a 4 day trek and take our time, but we spent day 4 car-touring around Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point.

Camp spots on the trail: Water Wheel Falls (Day 1); Pate Valley (Day 2)

2 years ago

I initially underestimated the difficulty of this trek. There is some serious elevation gain and loss on this trek - and also limited camping spots in the canyon. I highly recommend leaving from White Wolf, as if you're heading from Glen Aulin the climb at the end would be brutal and hot (and the sun hits it hard first thing in the morning). Check the water levels before you head out. I lucked out with this low snow year and hit the water crossings just after their prime, and they were not difficult at all - yet the water in the Tuolumne was still flowing strong enough to make for impressive waterfalls. Trail was extremely overgrown in some areas, and I lost the trail a few times, but I'm sure by later in the season this won't be an issue. Absolutely amazing scenery and wildflowers - but I recommend 4 days to really enjoy it, I rushed through in 2 days and it simply was no where near enough time!

2 years ago

hard hike. lots of switchbacks

hiking
5 years ago

This is a rugged overnight backpack into the North country of Yosemite dropping in from Tuolumne Meadows into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Done at the beginning of Spring is best due to the high volume of water but be ready for some river fording through some very icy temperatures. It begins at an elevation just under 9,000' and drops to a low elevation of 4,500' almost 19 miles later at Pate Valley. Coming up out of Pate Valley heading towards Harden Lake is an elevation gain of almost 4,550' in just under 8 or so miles, be prepared for some thigh quivering demands. During the hike you'll pass a series of waterfalls starting with White Cascade Falls followed by Tuolumne Falls, California Falls, Le Conte Falls and finally the geological wonder, Waterwhell Falls, where the water flows down over a series of grooves in the rocks that can propel the water close to 20' into the air in a counter clock wise wheel, really spectacular.