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Preston Falls Trail is a 7.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Groveland, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and horses and is best used from May until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 7.5 mi Elevation gain 662 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Horseback riding

Forest

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Over grown

Description
Waypoints (0)
Getting There

From Yosemite/Hetch Hetchy, you take Cherry Lake Road all the way down to the trailhead at the bottom of the valley (20 min drive from the Mather Camp). The trailhead is actually called "Stanislaus National Forest Trailhead" and is not correct on Google if you search Preston Falls (but the directions are correct using the AllTrails app). When you are ready to head back, you go to the top of the road and turn right at the stop sign to get to Hwy 120. Parking for the trail is behind the power plant on the river. There is no service/signal once you past Buck Meadows. After Rainbow Pool, make a quick left onto Cherry Lake Rd. Follow Cherry Lake Rd (Also called "Forest Rte 1N07" all the way to the Tuolumne River. Then cross the bridge and turn right. Follow that road past the cottages and the Hetch Hechy/Kirkwood power plant. The road will dead end at the parking lot for the trailhead.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (90)
Photos (78)
Recordings (48)
Completed (132)
Stieg Kle
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020
HikingGreat!

On the trail by 9:30, 5 hours round trip including time to swim. Trail is well defined, albeit there is a place or two where care is required to not wander off on a side branch. My hiking buddy hiked in shorts, as is his norm. No challenge with plants or bushes. Other posts mention trees felled across the pass. I counted a total of eight that needed a bit more effort than just stepping over. While it's useful to recognize Poison Oak, and be conscious of it while hiking, with a bit of care, your good to go. As you approach Preston Falls, you pass through a meadow and will see the remnants of an old fireplace (Preston's cabin). We enjoyed the hike and views of Tuolumne river, and will return.

Don I.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
HikingGreat!

Yes it is hot as there is not a lot of cover due to a fire from a few years ago and there are a lot of trees across the trail. But it had stunning views of the river and many swimming opportunities. GPS took us to the trailhead without any problems and had no problems finding the trail as it crossed over rock surfaces. We had Preston Falls to ourselves for lunch. Would do it again

Mary F
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 15, 2020
HikingBugsNo shadeOver grownScramble

Don’t try to do the whole hike - just stop 1-2 miles in and enjoy the rocks and small falls. We hiked the full loop which is actually 8.14 miles according to my Apple Watch (1,030 feet of elevation gain) and it was not worth it. After the first mile the whole hike is uncovered and scorching hot, and involves rocky terrain as well as a long stretch of waist high weeds covered in ticks with a very narrow path cut in. The final waterfall is not any more spectacular than the ones you pass earlier in the hike. The last part was not worth it and we were really dehydrated by the end. Took us 4 hours and 10 mins. The first little part of the hike is super nice though and we saw lots of people camping. Dog and child friendly as well if they can avoid all of the poison oak.

Frank Cauthon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 7, 2020
HikingOver grown

Lots of overgrown poison oak. Lots of down trees I wouldn’t bring dogs because of the poison oak. There are however nice places to have lunch or do an overnight. The water is perfect If it wasn’t for the trail conditions it would be 5stars

Jeff Lo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 4, 2020
HikingNo shadeOver grown

This trail is actually very far in. Google maps only takes you to about 90% to the trailhead so make sure you read up on the previous reviews to get to the trailhead! Very little shade. Also VERY HOT! Bring lots of water or a filter of some sort! The trail has ALOOOT of poison oak overgrowing onto the trail. The trail is also very narrow so you'll be literally brushing up against poison oak. Be wary and be prepared! With that being said. Awesome trail! The trail runs right by the river so you'll constantly hear bubbling water. No bugs out. Not alot of people on the trail. We went on July 4th and even then, we barely crossed paths with other hikers. Plenty of swimming spots! Bring swimming clothes! We made that mistake. 2.5 miles in there is a gorgeous swimming hole that was so inviting we went swimming anyways. At the end of the hike there is an awesome little waterfall! It was cool but the biggest highlights were the abundant secluded swimming spots.

James Strosahl
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 29, 2020
HikingOver grownRocky

If you stick it out trough all the down trees, overgrown confusing trails, and bad directions to trail head ( look at reviews below for better instructions to trail head ) you will be rewarded with secluded beaches, cliff jumping spots, and a beautiful little water fall at the end.

View James's Recording
Kelsey .
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 22, 2020
HikingOver grown

I loved this trail! The poison oak is encroaching on the trail so you need to be careful about that. Many spots to swim in the river along the trail and beautiful wildflowers. Other reviews are correct that the AllTrails navigation does not take you directly to the trailhead, you have to keep driving until you pass over a small bridge, turn right immediately after and drive past cottages and the power plant, the road will then deadens into the parking lot for the trail.

John Gonzalez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 21, 2020
Hiking

This trail is really rocky. It was great to see that if you dont have it in you to go all the way on a hot day, there is a beach area about a mile in to relax and jump into the river. This is a definite bucket list trail and bet your bottom dollar we will be returning to this site. BTW, the directions suck. I had to navigate using only Google maps. If you can, before you head out, make sure you screen shot the route to the power plant. The parking for the trail is behind the power plant on the river. There is no service/signal once you past Buck Meadows. As SOON AS YOU SEE RAINBOW POOL, get ready to make a quick left onto Cherry Lake Rd. Follow Cherry Lake Rd (Also called "Forest Rte 1N07" all the way to the Tuolumne River. Then cross the bridge and turn right. Follow that road past the cottages and the Hetch Hechy/Kirkwood power plant. The road will dead end at the parking lot for the trailhead.

View John's Recording
Bridget Shelton
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 15, 2020

we were never able to find the trail. GPS went off way before cherry lake so we followed the suggestion and continued on to the lake. we ended up finding the one mile wilderness trail on the other side of the dam that walked us down to lake Eleanor and lake kibble that was pretty but very short trails when we were looking forward to a longer hike.

Lauren D’Andrea
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 9, 2020
HikingBugsNo shadeOff trailOver grownRocky

To arrive - keep taking Cherry lake Dr all the way down into the valley, past where the GPS tells you, cross a small bridge and turn right when it dead ends into the mountain. You’ll pass some cabins and a hetch hetchy water plant, and keep going until the parking lot. This was a moderate 8 mile round trip hike with gentle inclines. It was fairly rocky at sections with some fallen trees you have to climb over. It is generally well-paved but easy to get off track at times if you aren’t paying attention. At 2 miles in from the parking lot, there’s a large pool of water that’s great for swimming. I would recommend to friends to just do this first half, personally. It gets steeper and rockier from there, and more overgrown. It is 2 more miles from the big swimming pool up to Preston falls. The falls are nice, but fairly small. There is a large pool of water at the falls where you can swim. I would recommend wearing pants because there are large sections where you walk through tall grass and sharp bushes, as well as lots of poison oak lining the trail. Also note there is only occasional shade, and most of the trail is quite exposed. Good luck!

View Lauren's Recording
Melony XG
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 5, 2020
HikingOver grown

Great trail! Got lost a few times near the boulders and had to back track. Just make sure to follow the trail on the map! Plenty of swimming holes and the water felt wonderful! Bring swimsuits! It’s hot enough to dry on the way back.

View Melony's Recording
Keith Facchino
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 5, 2020
HikingBlowdownOver grown

Great trail and scenery. Trees blown down over trail in quite a few areas. Lots of poison oak encroaching on trail, but still a fun adventure. Some awesome swimming holes for skinny dipping.

Cynthia Perez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 31, 2020
Hiking

For a relaxing day for a walk I recommend this trail! There’s barely any elevation so your just pretty much walking. Along the way we found many different flower types. It was great I counted over 20 different types of flowers and the pretty thing was they were blooming! There was barely any bugs and the trail was very easy to hike though. I would recommend that they trail it’s self at first is through a neighborhood of cabins but after that your pretty much alone! I loved walking through the canals. If your looking for something chill to enjoy tress and nature I recommend! It’s an easy hike so you don’t have to over prepare water and some fruit did well for us! If you have pets it’s easy for them to hang out with you on this trail! My fiancé and I barely bumped into people we were mostly alone for the entire 8 miles we hiked through.

View Cynthia 's Recording
Ryan Lea
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 25, 2020
Hiking

Great trail with some AWESOME camp sites! It was pretty busy and populated but everyone was nice. I’d recommend this trail to anyone looking for a good place to hike and fish. TONS OF POISON OAK so beware.

Christian Surbatovich
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 24, 2020
HikingBlowdownOff trailRocky
View Christian's Recording
Lillian Bates
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 16, 2020
HikingBugsOver grownRocky

Beautiful trail. Went in mid May. It was a bit warm but not bad. Lots of flowers and butterflies. Not a lot of other people. The trail was overgrown in places so there was lots of foliage brushing against legs. I definitely recommend long pants. Watch of for wildlife. We had to go around a large snake stretched across the trail and we may have heard a bear cub. We took our time on the trail and it took us around 4.5 hours to go out and come back.

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