Hetch Hetchy Trail to Rancheria Falls [CLOSED]

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Yosemite National Park

Hetch Hetchy Trail to Rancheria Falls is a 13 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Long Barn, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 13.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,729 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

closed

no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. The gate to the parking area at this trailhead doesn't open until 8 AM.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this trail on 2/29. Both Wapama and Ranchería Falls are flowing nicely but the bridges are safe to cross. Lots of sun exposure so bring more water than you think you need. Elevation gain is manageable as the switchbacks are interspersed with flat sections. You get a nice overlook of Ranchería Falls by following the social trail to the right after about 5.5(?) miles. Somehow missed the turn to the campground with a closer view of the falls. Definitely keep going to the bridge that crosses over the creek and the top of the falls as the views are great! Took me a little under 5 1/2 hours, but I was really pushing the pace to make it back before the gates closed. Plan for at least 7 hours.

4 months ago

Love

5 months ago

Trail is easy to follow and not all that difficult. If you go in spring the waterfall hits the bridge pretty good. Can be intimidating, bumped into one couple that turned around due to being to afraid to cross. Guess that depends on the rain that year. Most of the trail runs along the lake but is pretty high up so plan your water accordingly.

backpacking
bugs
rocky
7 months ago

Back packed with Ohana; waterfalls were not flowing though. Still beautiful awesome hike and we found a cool camp site.

hiking
rocky
scramble
8 months ago

Dear ALLTRAILS , this description you have needs some fixing . Let’s start off with this trail is 15 miles from Dam to bridge at Rancheria and back to Dam. 2 Garmin gps , my phone and my watch all confirm this is 15 miles round trip . Secondly , your map ends at the campground BELOW the falls , like a 1/2 mile below the actual bridge and falls . Now, to those that want to do this hike in the next little while , you should know that they are starting repair of bridges at Wapama falls in next few days and the trail to Rancheria will not be accessible . I will post a pic of my Garmin with the mileage

hiking
no shade
rocky
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Warning the gate to enter the park does not open until 8 am. We tried to hike this trail on 9/20, arrived at 7 am to this surprise. ALLTRAILS needs to put this notice in the description for all hikes starting at this gate. We ended up going elsewhere.

hiking
bugs
no shade
8 months ago

Great trail, beautiful views. Most of it was in full sun this time of year, out and back. This was a good thing because even on a dry, hot day the mosquitoes and/or other highly annoying flying things were out in force in the shaded areas. Take insect repellent. I scoffed at an earlier suggestion to take 3 liters of water. I took 2 and a water filtration pump “just in case”. I used the pump to refill 1.5 liters at the falls, so yeah, 3 liters is a good idea.

backpacking
rocky
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

This trail is probably closer to 14 miles round trip, if not more when you consider parking away from the trail head. It is full of switch backs the entire way and you can't see that on the map. Yes its beautiful but don't be fooled, its tough. Takes about four hours each way if youre carrying a backpack for camping.

Would recommend doing this hike earlier in the season. It was beautiful and definitely worth it, but very hot and lacked some water in the streams/was full of dry brush (which was expected in late August). Also a lot of gnats on the trial, but overall was very beautiful

hiking
9 months ago

This trail was fantastic! Completed in mid-August as part of a longer trek to Tuolumne Meadows. It was warm but the falls were still roaring because of the high snow year. There were amazing campsites just before the Rancheria Falls footbridge with easy access to water.

Another great trail! Beautiful view of the reservoir for the whole route. The first falls, Wapama was amazing and powerful with all that water gushing down from the huge snow melt we’ve had this year.. Bonus is there is a nice cool mist coming from Wapama. You’ll get pretty wet if you hang out for a bit. Great for a hot day! Speaking of that, about a third of the trail is in the shade so be prepared to battle the sun for the other 2/3. The last couple of miles prior to Racheria were especially brutal. Bring lots of water! Racheria falls was worth the trip. Beautiful and spread out over a nice size area. Great place to camp, explore, & hang it. I took a dip in the river to cool down and then took a nap in a hammock before making the return trip. The bugs weren’t bad until close to sunset. Pretty sure I’ll be returning and spending the night at Racheria! BTW, the trail is very easy to follow.

Only went to Wapama falls. The hike was moderate but miserable. Hot sun very few spots to stop for shade. The trail is mostly climbing over rocks. Exhausting. The falls however were fabulously roaring splashing the bridges and drenching us with spray. The Hetchy canyon doesn’t even compare to the majesty of the Yosemite valley canyons. Glad I went once to see it but not a do over. #oneanddone

Beautiful trail along Hetch Hetchy. The trail is very exposed to the sun. The waterfalls are very powerful this year because of all the snowmelt

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

This place was Awesome, loved it! WAY less people then the Valley so it makes the drive back to it worth it. Hiked it Late June, pretty flat trails. I will be going back

hiking
bugs
11 months ago

This is a great trail. Mostly flat but lots to see. We hiked it early June 2019. Think about packing rain gear for walking near the falls. Walking on those bridges felt a little like being in a tropical storm! I’ve uploaded a couple of pictures. After the falls, the trail passes through relatively thick vegetation with lots of bugs. Definitely pack bug spray!

hiking
rocky
Sat Jun 01 2019

hiking
Sun May 12 2019

Get to the parking lot early on a weekend otherwise you'll have a hard time finding a spot. I started at 11am and went all the way to Racheria Falls and got back to my car at 5pm. Be prepared to get soaked as you cross Wapama Falls! The waterfall was roaring! But on a warm day it felt good and you'll dry out quick. Also, most of the elevation happens after you get passed the falls. The first part of the trial was fairly busy, but hardly anyone was on the trail once you make it past the Wapama waterfall. I'd also recommend sunscreen and bug spray.

backpacking
rocky
Mon May 06 2019

We backpacked to Rancheria Falls which is totally worth the energy spent to get there. I would say this trail is hard. We were able to make it to camp at rancheria in about 6 hrs and the return trip took the same amount of time. What makes this trail difficult is the constantly changing terrain. There are almost no spots on the trail that are flat and smooth. Having to step over boulders and finding the right footing takes alot of extra time. We went in early May and the waterfalls were incredible. Wapama Falls was just outrageous. We got soaked just getting across the bridges but it was so much fun. You really have to experience it for yourself. Seeing it from the dam, I still didnt understand how much water there was until I got there. There were no bear sightings but we did see a small snake. And there were alot of people on the trail.

hiking
Wed Jan 23 2019

There's more scenic hikes equally as hard but not as hot, dry, dusty or bear laden. City Camp is 6 miles from Hetch Hetchy dam and it used to be loaded with bears and freaked out back packers. Still the hike to Rancheria Falls is a good one, but it's hot along that trail and the switchbacks up Rancheria are endless! If you make it to the top and head down, you will be going into Pleasant Valley. From there you can hike up out of Pleasant Valley into Neil Meadow which has beautiful glacial views, brooks that are neatly manicured and a gorgeous flat place to walk Neil Meadows take you to Neil Lake, then onto the my favorite, Rodgers Lake. By then you're at about 8,000 feet with White and Red fir trees and tons of wildflowers!

Sun Dec 02 2018

Not difficult. In view of reservoir and beautiful view much of the time.

hiking
Wed Nov 28 2018

11/27/18 This hike wrapped the 7th and final hike over our Thanksgiving vacation. It certainly was the highlight of our trip! There were so many different types of terrain on this trail from flat rock, to fallen leaves, stone stairs and my favorite was navigating over all the rock. We started at 8:45 am and ended up doing 13 miles in 5.25 hours with a small sandwich break. We primarily had the trail to ourselves until we started to venture back then ran into about a dozen people. The weather was perfect! Mid 50’s with a slight breeze and very clear. You’ll see breathtaking views of Hetch Hetchery Reservoire all along the trail. I believe there was 4 waterfalls in view as well. I would definitely do this trail again!

hiking
Sat Nov 24 2018

Hiked this in the rain, which was pretty miserable. But on a clear day, I imagine the views would be spectacular. Trail is moderately difficult and well maintained. Took me about 5.5 hours including lunch at the creek. Get there early if you want the trail to yourself -- I started at 9 and didn't see anyone until I was already halfway down.

Thu Nov 15 2018

Great, long hike with majestic views

hiking
Mon Sep 03 2018

I got an early start on Labor Day weekend. Since this is a less visited part of the park, I had no trouble at the gate or with parking and I had the trail mostly to myself til halfway through my way back in the afternoon. Very peaceful. The views of the lake and cliffs are amazing. There are several waterfalls but this late in the year I didn’t expect much of a flow, so I wasn’t disappointed. The trail itself is moderately strenuous. It is well groomed and free of loose stones for the most part. The steeper grades have steps and the areas that would get wet from the waterfalls earlier in the year are cobbled for better footing. A lot of the trail is exposed and hot, the wooded areas are a great relief but in the morning the mosquitoes were thick! I highly recommend sun block and bug spray. Though the trail is moderately strenuous, the return trip was difficult. I was tired from the hike out, the sun got hotter, and it seemed like there were just as many inclines as there were descents. Meaning, there was a lot of uphill climbing on the way back. The trail is dusty from all the crushed granite and I went through more water than I thought I would. Halfway through my return I nearly ran out of water and had to ration. Bring more water than you think you’ll need. Overall, an excellent experience! Check out my pics.

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