Chilnualna Falls Trail

MODERATE 165 reviews
#15 of 210 trails in

Chilnualna Falls Trail is a 6.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Mariposa, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2217 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

no dogs

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.

1 day ago

It's off the beaten path and not very crowded..This was such an amazing hike! I had a blast doing it and the view was pretty good. I hike around the other side of the gorge to get a picture of all the falls and it came out great. Don't recommend that for a lot of people as the other side has no real Trail and you end up doing a lot of bushwhacking. Still met some great people and saw some amazing scenery!

2 days ago

Beautiful hike. Lots of trees and the views at the top are amazing. We hiked in August and the water was moving slow. There were a few pools at the top that we swam in. My legs started to give out on the way down, but I’m not in the best of shape.

hiking
13 days ago

Took my wife here years ago for her first backpack. She's in good shape but I have to admit this hike was a challenge for her. Still, a beautiful hike and the falls, while on the smaller side, is still wonderful. Great hike if you're looking for time in Yosemite but want to avoid crowds.

hiking
18 days ago

For parents who hike with their kids/dogs: Hiked this trail with my two boys and pupper on Mother's Day. I'd say this hike would be difficult for kids under 10, and dangerous in several areas, especially near the top at the falls. AllTrails says it's good for dogs and I don't disagree, but there is signage at the trailhead saying dogs are not allowed. Luckily this trail is lightly trafficked, so fewer people to complain, I guess. It is beautiful though, with awesome views of Wawona valley, wildflowers, and wildlife. It took us about 6 hours to complete. We took our time on the way up, took several breaks to eat and enjoy the scenery, and we ran most of the way back. Will definitely hike this again.

19 days ago

This was a great hike definitely up on the 10 mile marker for distance though not 6.9. View at the upper falls was amazing however getting up there at some points was steep overall a great hike

23 days ago

it was almost 10 miles to the base of the main falls. 8 miles to a smaller one. I don't know who got 6.9??? I'm 53 and would call this hike moderate but I'm in shape and was sore for a couple days after.

24 days ago

Not too much of a scenary at first but once youre at the top! its breath taking! in all ways! haha. We lounged where there was a little pool area where it looked out to the valley. Beautiful. just beautiful.

24 days ago

Great hike with steep switchbacks towards the end. Very rewarding view from the top. The top of the falls is a great place to stop for lunch and soak the feet in the cold clear water. Agree with previous review, this is probably a hard level hike not moderate.

hiking
25 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike along the falls.

hiking
26 days ago

Somewhere in the upper-moderate challenging level. This is a beautiful hike, but I'm not going to be leading this hike and calling it "moderate" due to the 2,200 foot elevation gain and constant climbing. There is a strenuous .3 mile start up to the falls but after that the hike levels out. I definitely recommend someone being in shape in order to pull this one off. I am leading a group on this hike and in order to keep it at the "moderate" level, we will probably not go to the top.

29 days ago

Really enjoyed the flora and the incredible vistas and the waterfalls that are abundant all the way up!

1 month ago

Power through the punishing ascent at the beginning. It’s worth it! This has stunning florae the whole way that made me feel like I was in the Pacific Northwest. There’s also tons of manzanita (and really old, grown in manzanita). There are some switchbacks about 3/4 of the way in that took me longer than I’d care to admit to complete, but the falls itself are worth the climb.

I’m surprised this hasn’t been featured on Westworld or something. It has a foreboding, imposing look and has to be seen to be believed. If you are scared of heights, be forewarned that the top of the falls may creep you out a bit.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked to the falls, and the loop you see on the map above it counter clockwise. If you do that it's about 18 miles total and doubles your elevation gain. Also as of writing this the trail on the southern side of that loop was washed out and disappeared, so make sure you either you know how to navigate. Needless to say if you throw in that loop this trail is challenges and the 10 decent is brutal on the joints.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike yesterday. It was an awesome hike. If you are looking for a hike in Yosemite that is nice and not to crowded with people I would definitely recommend this one.

hiking
1 month ago

A great trail with some steep sections. Like most trails in Yosemite, there is some elevation on this one. Moderate is a good description. Wear broke in boots/shoes. This is a nice starting point to link to some other sights such as Taft Point, Glacier Point, and Panorama. This hike and the connecting trails up top are some of the least crowded in the park. Nice water features and secluded camping along the way. The upper section Chilnualna Creek is also full of eager wild trout, so pack a fly rod ;-)

1 month ago

It's not that moderate. If you have not hiked for a while you'll be in for a treat.

2 months ago

Fun short hike

2 months ago

This is a fairly tough hike and a good amount of it is exposed to the sun, so hydrate beforehand and bring plenty of water with you. I went in April, and there were plenty of places along the way to refill my water bottles for filtering, but I imagine that it is very dry in the summer without the opportunity to refill water. Snacks are also a must, as you will expend a fair amount of energy.

It took me just over 5 hours round trip (with some stops to rest, refill water, and of course to take in the views, which are breathtaking - besides the waterfall views, there are also amazing views of the Wawona valley and Wawona Dome).

This trail was not crowded at all when I went in April, which was a nice change from the day before when I was hiking a Yosemite Valley trail. On this trail, I encountered perhaps 12-15 other hikers.

The wading pool mentioned in the description was not accessible when I went, as there was a lot of extra powerful water steams flowing outwards from the falls due to the spring snowmelt and recent rain. As mentioned in the description, there really is no point where one can see the entire waterfall - however, the hike is still totally worth it just for the views of the valley below, and of course the views of the waterfall are still impressive.

2 months ago

great not really steep hike apart from couple of sections, gorgeous waterfalls, sceneries and forest - highly recommend!

hiking
2 months ago

Gorgeous waterfalls! Must do trail!

camping
2 months ago

Great view with nice waterfalls

2 months ago

Tuff hike with lots of gear. but beautiful sights.

2 months ago

Great trip to the top, still some snow

hiking
4 months ago

Steep climbs and powerful views!

camping
5 months ago

Great hike! Nice to avoid the crowds of The Valley and still enjoy the amazing views that Yosemite has to offer.

If you doing a day hike and traveling light, it’s pretty easy. That being said, make sure you bring enough water, we had a family ask us to pump them water because they only had a couple of small bottles between the five of them.

We camped in and it was pretty steep with our gear. But overall definitely an amazing hike.

hiking
5 months ago

Falls were beautiful. Nice weather. No snow. A must do!

hiking
6 months ago

This hike so hard, but It was so worth it!

backpacking
6 months ago

awesome view, nice and cold swimming pool near the waterfall

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike! If you hike up to the top of the waterfall it'll be right at 8.5 miles round trip. The gnats are torture all along the way, but the view at the top is totally worth it.

8 months ago

Must do in spring!

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