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Chilnualna Falls Trail

HARD 223 reviews
#18 of 232 trails in

Chilnualna Falls Trail is a 7.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Buena Vista, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. 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: 7.9 miles Elevation Gain: 2,188 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

bugs

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.

14 days ago

Amazing views! A mix of shaded and non-shadded areas. Bring s lot of water, it is a hot trail, however has multiple creek spots with water to use to cool down. Moderate Hike (mostly uphill-in and out-downhill rocky challange), youngest in our group was 6 and eldest was 70 (great shape).

hiking
muddy
snow
29 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

VERY foggy, couldn’t see the falls :(

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail! The hike up is difficult but lots of nice places to stop and take photos and rest as the trail follows the river most of the way.

1 month ago

Amazing waterfalls from the start. A few steep climbs especially at beginning and at the top, but for the most part a manageable upward climb. At the top is a great spot to a picnic. Absolutely no crowds.

hiking
1 month ago

Challenging uphill trail but beautiful views of the waterfall all along the way. Once your at the top it’s hard to see the waterfall up close but the views are still amazing! Gets really hot so going the morning and bring lots of water ! Very steep down hill on the way back can be har on the knee. I jogged down bc it seem to feel better . All and all great day hike

hiking
1 month ago

Fun hike! About 4 miles straight uphill to the top of the falls. The water is rushing fast right now, so be careful near the water. Took me about 3.5 hours to complete round trip. Get there early to avoid the crowds. But much less crowded than the valley.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Great trail!!! Yes you do get to see the falls up close but is about 4.7 miles and totally worth sticking it out. Lots of sun and at about 75 degrees it was pretty hot. Several people saw rattle snakes and they were not small, a guy caught two on video, I did not realize they were that big around. I only heard one once. The falls were amazing so glad I did it and yes totally safe solo female.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Big payoff early with the falls and some dicey steps. Nice steady climb to the upper falls at the top- great place to nap, snack and listen to the water. Very little traffic - it you’re looking for solitude, this is the trail for you.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
rocky
snow
2 months ago

I’ve done this one twice now and it never fails! Outstanding hike with beautiful views and some pretty strenuous areas for even the most experienced adventurers. First off at the trail head there is a “stock trail” that is way easier then the lower falls trail... but you will miss out on the great view of the lower falls... I like to look at this part as a warm up to the trail. The mist from the falls and the rock stair case really make for some great sites and sounds. The rest of the trail is not to bad.. moderate inclines and a couple of small streams to cross. There are some fresh fallen trees on the trail that you will either have to climb under or over... sometimes even around! So be ready for that. Other than that this trail is not to bad. Just take your time and enjoy all the sites! They really are breathtaking! Enjoy! And be safe!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
3 months ago

Loved this trail. Multiple water falls on the way up. There is a lot of mud and snow this time of year. There were some downed trees that we had to maneuver around and the last trek before you get to the top was a little sketchy, but if you have shoes with tread you should make it up just fine.

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

Still lots of snow on the trail. Could reach the top due to the snow, to sketchy around the last corner.

hiking
snow
3 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Excellent work out with water from the falls and pool waiting there to refresh you! Unlike some steeper heavy milage hikes, there's water when you arrive!

hiking
5 months ago

It got harder towards the end and the last portion was completely covered in snow. Overall great hike with multiple waterfall views. We just did this today and loved it. You also get multiple AMAZING views of Wowona Dome throughout the whole hike. We only saw one couple on the hike the entire time. Would definitely recommend!

5 months ago

Gorgeous hike, it wasn’t difficult at all. Lots to see, the beauty is breathtaking!!

5 months ago

Did this in 2016. Was beautiful and well worth it.

hiking
5 months ago

Great views of a different part of Yosemite and away from the big crowds. The trail is dotted with small waterfalls. The trip to the top and back was about 8.8 miles, so plan your day accordingly. Since it's out and back, you can turn around at any point. I'm glad I brought a heavy jacket. It got pretty cold at the top. We have no issues with Mountain lions or bugs. There was no snow either, even though it was mid December. I don't think I would try the steep parts of the trail when it's icy. Great day on the trail.

6 months ago

if you hustle it can be done in 4.5 hours, about 9 miles round trip, the view at the end of the trail is worth it!! a lot of mountain lion warnings

7 months ago

Loved it. Lots of gnats. Extra protein or breathe out of your nose!

8 months ago

Nice walk, but bring bug spray.

9 months ago

Beautiful! The pools and view and the top was well worth what for me was a challenging hike. The beginning is pretty steep but luckily for me the vast majority is steady and mild elevation gain.

9 months ago

The pools are awesome at the top. Nature’s infinity pool!

hiking
9 months ago

solid hike up to a beautiful viewpoint that has lots of exploration potential and swimming holes. got on the trail around 5pm and only saw a few other groups. lots of annoying flies! there was at least 2 piles of bear poo and on the way back heard 2 large creatures scramble away in the bush so be aware!

hiking
10 months ago

This was a great hike and so beautiful. As we made our way back down the trail we stopped by the river to rest and eat. Within about 20 min we seen a huge bear coming down the trail we were just on. The bear didn’t pay anything attention to us and just kept on traveling. We waited till we seen some other hikers coming so we had someone to walk down with because like other people have said it is a pretty quiet trail. Didn’t see anyone at the top and only passed one other couple going up. If your looking for a beautiful hike without a lot of people this hike is awesome.

10 months ago

longer than expected... well worth the walk! beautiful views. clear paths. well marked.

11 months ago

The top falls are worth the hike. Smoke every where right now because of the Ferguson Fire. south part of the park a little bit better.

hiking
Sunday, June 24, 2018

Did not do the trail but followed the river up to awesome swimming holes and waterfalls. First three lower holes you will see people but the farther up, its secluded enough to skinny dip!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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.

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