Chilnualna Falls Trail

MODERATE 134 reviews
#15 of 203 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.

2 days 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.

4 days ago

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

hiking
4 days ago

Gorgeous waterfalls! Must do trail!

camping
8 days ago

Great view with nice waterfalls

16 days ago

Tuff hike with lots of gear. but beautiful sights.

16 days ago

Great trip to the top, still some snow

hiking
2 months ago

Steep climbs and powerful views!

camping
2 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
3 months ago

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

hiking
4 months ago

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

backpacking
4 months ago

awesome view, nice and cold swimming pool near the waterfall

hiking
5 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.

6 months ago

Must do in spring!

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful hike well worth the effort. Would have given it 5 Stars but the gnats were horrific! Recommend an early start to avoid those pesky critters.

camping
6 months ago

A moderately tough hike, but beyond worth it. Chilnualna falls might be the most beautiful place on earth. There's jumping rocks by the swimming hole, & the sunsets are amazing.

hiking
7 months ago

I loved this hike because it was not crowded like all the other trails on in The Valley floor. Breathtaking views when you reach the top!

7 months ago

Great Hike! If you plan on going to the top bring lots of water. An amazing hike, such beauty. Will do again..

8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Scary fire right now but a nice hike. One thing...it's more than 7.2 miles, it's more like 9ish.

walking
8 months ago

Very nice trail that leads to an amazing view

backpacking
8 months ago

Great day hike most times of the year. I went in August 2016 and the falls were pretty dry. Would love to come back when the falls are roaring! Beautiful scenery up top of the trail too

8 months ago

love this trail. the falls are awesome and if you backpack you will visit up to 3 lakes. also this trail is not over crowded.

hiking
9 months ago

Awesome falls, amazing pictures, and a great little workout.

9 months ago

Excellent hike, less busy than most other trails in Yosemite. Pretty steep initial climb but it becomes more a moderate climb the rest of the way. Definitely longer than 7.2 though. We thought closer to 10.

hiking
9 months ago

Wonderful hike! Be sure you bring plenty water and a water purifier just in case.

backpacking
9 months ago

The milage is 5.6 miles to the trail junction, which is at the upper falls. So in/out 11.2 miles. We just got off the trail, backpacking a loop from the trailhead. From the falls trl head it is a non-stop incline. There are 4 small creeks that cross the trail, so a filter is helpful. Use deet!

9 months ago

This is one my my families favorite hikes. We do it yearly. There is little traffic. If you are lucky, the marmots will join you at the falls.

9 months ago

I love this hike but just so you know it's not 7.2 miles it's at 9.6 miles round-trip

10 months ago

Agree with Kelli. Perfect spring hike. Lots of wildflowers. Bring lots of water!

hiking
10 months ago

As spectacular as a high Sierra day hike can be. Few people, because it is relentlessly uphill. There are 20 yards of technical, exposed trail less than a mile in, near a marvelous falls overview; nothing beyond is as challenging. The top is outstanding and undoubtedly worth the effort: boisterous falls, panoramic views, floral wall trailside, and a large granitic saddle for meandering.

Load More