Explore the most popular views trails near Groveland with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Lovely trail with beautiful spots to swim!
Remember to bring lots of water.

California Conservation Corps help rebuild this trail and rock steps !! ⚒

This was an awesome hike and the views are indescribable. I had not been backpacking in a few years and most of my trips have been in the Smoky Mountains so I was not completely prepared for this grueling hike in the dry heat. We stopped at Laurel Lake and decided to make this our home as I was too exhausted to go further but it was the perfect site. We stayed on the Southside and had the camp completely to ourselves. We didn’t see any bears but heard about a camper at Vernon Lake who had his backpack raided that previous night. We did have a big buck walk right into our camp only about 15 feet away like he owned the place. I definitely recommend this trip but maybe in a cooler part on the year. We were there the last few days of June.

Great section of the park that I've never had a chance to explore before. We just went to Laurel Lake and back since it was so flipping hot. Never hiking in 95+ degree weather again :)

backpacking
2 months ago

I did this trail clockwise with a friend over 4 nights, 3 days plus we added our first night at Laurel Lake. Being pretty fit ourselves, we found this to be a challenging trip and very sunny/warm. Sometimes water stops are not frequent so be sure to carry plenty of water! Several boggy spots where you will get quite muddy/dirty: headed into Laurel area, headed up after Vernon Lake, Tiltill area. Heading into Laurel area you will also have to cross a river to about the knees. Bear tracks and sightings, be very careful and aware of your surroundings at all times! Many downed trees and overgrown paths so be sure to have GPS or maps to avoid getting lost. Overall very beautiful and a wide array of scenery as you hike along.

hiking
2 months ago

Great out and back trail. It was pretty warm when my husband and I did this and we definitely should have taken more water. After the first couple miles there’s not much shade! We took a couple dips in the water to cool down and it was amazing. Make sure you have a hat and bring enough water! :)

If I could give zero stars for this hike I would. First of all there is no parking for the trailhead, just about two spots in what looks like a short turnaround across from the trailhead. This is definitely a strenuous and difficult hike which is not rewarded by any beautiful scenery. The trail exposed to sun, it’s hot, dry and extremely dusty with poison oak along trail. Trail is primarily through the burned forest from the Rim fire. When the trail descends into the valley floor the trail becomes lost and there are no trail markers in sign. You’d have to make your own trail to get to the river. Be warned, the way up is rough. Don’t do this hike without tons of water. Wouldn’t recommend this hike unless you hate yourself and want to punish yourself.

We did this trip over Memorial Day weekend so we saw a good deal of people. Overall, this was a nice 2 night, 3 day backpacking trip. You get to see quite a few different landscapes and get a pretty good workout overall. Day 1 and 2 is about 10 miles with day 3 around 6.5. There's some good climbs but overall, not to bad. Be prepared for some bugs in TilTill and possibly flooding in the valley. Be on the look out for bears too in the Beehive area. Both locations have sites with fire rings. I'd recommend this for anyone looking for a fun, moderate 3 day backpacking trip. Remember Leave No Trace!

on Preston Falls Trail

hiking
2 months ago

This is one other amazing trail to hike. You hike along the bank of the vibrant river and its very refreshing.I had been on a mid spring sunny day when the weather was around 70F. I had started to hike by 1030 hrs and found it highly draining and had got dehydrated by the time i got back, may be I am used to hiking a lot during fall and winter and had still not acclimatized to the spring weather. My suggestion is to hike during dusk or dawn so that you will to get enjoy the hike thoroughly. It took 0430 hrs for me to hike this 8.9 mile hike.
Note on the travel direction: after you cross the vehicle bridge in the cherry lake road while driving from Highway 120, please turn to the right towards the cottages. There is no sign board directing to the trail head and mostly you will tend to get lost. from there it is just a 3/4 mile to the trail head and it is called as Stanislaus National Forest Trail Head.

clockwise May 19 2018, 3 days 2 nights. Camped at Vernon lake and Rancheria (considered Tiltill but limited sites and unlimited mosquitoes).

In the early season, this is as good as any Yosemite backcountry hike (lakes, waterfalls, views, variety of ecosystems and vegetation)
+ and
no crowding (walked up for permit, saw fewer than 10 people when away from lower trail along the reservoir).

In later season I can imagine the dust and heat and aridity might change the balance and drop a star.

It may distract from your enjoyment if you think about the history of Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Consider the info from online and national park service as well as from San Francisco department of water that is on the placards.

Prep suggestions:
* we liked clockwise, not only to get elevation out of the way early, but facing into nice view coming back down to Hetch Hetchy :
* be ready for wearying uphill and downhill out of and then back in to Hetch Hetchy Valley
* check if you will need to wade thru Tiltill Valley (water above boot line and no way around, for approx 20 yards each side of the valley). Soft soil and grass meant barefoot was fine for most of our group.
* fair amount of bogs and rock hopping and downed trees changed our time calculus.

Highlights:
* great campsites + no fire restriction
* water at Wapama falls is enough to get wet walking across the bridge but not enough to close the trail
* wildflowers!! (So so many and so many species, especially at lower elevations)
* Tiltill Valley = spectacular in a peaceful way, well worth seeing (think baby Yosemite or tiny pre flood Hetch Hetchy)
* Vernon lake, especially from the ridge above the lake (toward Tiltill/Rancheria)

Note on mileage: Trails illustrated is 25, not counting unavoidable .5 each way from parking to the dam and variable to get from junction to actual camping at Vernon (.3 each way, but could be more). My gps said 27.5. I would use 25+ for planning assumption, not the 23 from AllTrails (sorry guys!)
Final note that the backcountry office says 28 miles, but I believe that is the trails illustrated 25 plus 3 miles optional extra around laurel lake.

Good early season trip. It was clear the trail crew hadn’t made their rounds...many down trees and overgrown sections.

Did the loop counterclockwise staying at Vernon night one. Very pretty lake with better campsites in the eastern side.

Lingering snow near Mt Gibson. Tiltill Valley is beautiful but bogged out requiring forging the meadow through calf deep water which was much funnier in the car ride home than it was while we were doing it.

The trail from Tiltil Valley to Rancheria Falls is pretty exposed and overgrown. All the sites at Rancheria we’re either taken or to too close for comfort so we ended up heading for the car.

The bridges at Wapama Falls were fun to cross and a nice mid-day soaking.

backpacking
4 months ago

The Dece Scouts headed to Preston Falls for an early season backpacking trip. The weather was supposed to be horrible. We started the hike in the rain, walking along the very high and flowing river. The rain died down after an hour or so, and by the evening it was clear skies. Lots of trees down on the trail, and parts were flooded, but all in all, a great hike.

hiking
6 months ago

A fantastic day hike on a very mild Jan 2. Beautiful river with pools and rapids. We were the only two people on the trail. We didn’t start until noon so only got to large pool and falls about 3.5 miles in and came out to finish by dark. Will definitely come again to have more time.

backpacking
6 months ago

The trip was pleasant, hard and fun.
From the parking lot for overnight use to the trailhead there is around 1.5 miles to go.
After the tunnel there are about 6 miles straight uphill climbing about 3000 ft, then around 1 mile flat to beehive meadow, from where 1-2 miles to Laurel lake.
We started from parking lot at 1:30 pm, reached beehive meadow around 5:00 pm, when was already a bit dark. But we decided to go to the lake, where the marking said only 1.2 miles away. However the trail later was cut off by a river. I guess one of the step rock was flushed away, only left us a gap filled with waist deep water which we can't cross. So we had to spent time trace the water and find a spot shallower so we can cross. This was done in total darkness. A little bit scary, so be prepared and leave earlier (we hike relatively fast).
In darkness we spent some time looking for the lake, near the lake and its water outlet creek, there is an awesome camp site which has a fire ring already. The lake is just like 200 yards away and creek is close for water.
The only down side is the lake's edge is not very accessible, so the view is not ideal. But it does not hurt. We had a great time.
The way back is a bit challenging as the terrain downhill was all big pebbles and rocks. Watch out for your ankle and follow a comfortable speed.
We went there in mid-January, however there was no slow and I feel the low is 30F at night. Pretty warm for this time of the year!

backpacking
7 months ago

Backpacked out to the falls with the dog weekend of 12/16 -12/17: his first backpacking overnight and this was a nice introduction on a pretty gentle trail. Trail was mostly clear, but especially in the last mile the path was covered in downed trees, branches and debris from a previous fire. Pup is about 20 pounds so I had to carry him for a lot of this final stretch as it was such a mess.

It was very quiet-- one other truck when I arrived but otherwise not a single person on the trail the whole 24 hours. Beautiful hike, and the waterfall at the end makes for a beautiful rest at the end. No snow or ice yet, just some frost in the shadowed areas of the canyon.

I put the coordinates from alltrails in Google Maps and it took me most of the way there: it ended on the switchback road down to the canyon. At the bottom of the switchbacks, turn right and drive past the dam and water plant all the way to the end (it looks like it might lead to a back lot for the plant at one point) and you'll get to the large trailhead parking lot.

backpacking
8 months ago

We had a great time backpacking here the weekend of December 2nd 2017. This time of year it is hard to find a sutible place to go backpacking with my wife and 6 year old son. I was drawn to this place for it's low elevation, paved road access and close proximity to my home in the bay area. We were rewarded with a beautiful hike. We found a really nice camp spot about halfway. I really wanted to push on to the falls but my son was getting tired and the sun was soon to set. The natural beauty was abundant. This is a hidden gem that has been cast in the shadow of and often overlooked by Yosemite's grandeur.

This was my first experience in Yosemite, and we chose this trail because we'd heard there was less traffic and we were looking for true wilderness and not many people. We'd originally planned to go up on Moraine Ridge and down into the Jack Main Canyon, but because of the still high levels of snow there in mid-to-late June, the rangers recommended against it. They also warned that we may not be able to cross Falls Creek because of the amount of snowmelt. The switchbacks were hard and gruelling in 90 degree heat, but I made it and am proud of that (at 58 and not backpacking in almost 40 years, that is saying something). We hiked toward Beehive Meadow which was nothing but mosquito-filled because of all the wetness on the trail. But arriving at Lake Vernon, we were thrilled. The granite surrounding the area, the lovely lake, the camping areas, the side trails, the wildflowers, the wildlife... all quite wonderful. I fell in love with this backcountry, for sure. So beautiful, so peaceful. We were not able to make the loop because of the raging water covering the footbridge at Falls Creek, but we spent a couple nights here before heading back down. I definitely want to do this trail again, but go onto the Ridge and the Canyon too, in a season and year when the snows aren't so prolific.

backpacking
10 months ago

Awesome trail! I loved the views and the peacefulness. I defiantly recommend doing this trail.

10 months ago

Just did this Loop first week of September, Took us three days up and two day back....Great veiws, Tons of wild life...Amazing trip one to remember..

backpacking
Saturday, August 05, 2017

Actually, my review pertains to the Lake Vernon Leg, only, done in September '71, and August '72. There are a few terraces, past the Lake Eleanor Service Road portion, commencing at about the 4,200 Ft. elevation, that comprise PURE, to nearly pure Ponderosa Pine, with Jeffrey Pine, and Jeffrey/Ponderosa Pine hybrids, until about at the top of this stretch at Beehive Junction (Left Trail eventually to Bond Pass, out of The Park; with the Right Trail being the fairly level 1.5-2 Mile Inrun, to Lake Vernon.), with elegant Red Fir, too. If, you are a Dendrologist, or know someone who is, I'd STRONGLY advise you to be directed to this more or less contiguous big grove of these species, to record NEW CHAMPIONS of these! Many have assumed the appearance of Sequoias, they are THAT giant! Huge buttresses at their bases; Diameter Breast Heights of at least 8 Feet; Total Heights MORE than 220 Ft.--I'd guess; negligible Taper, up to about 120 Ft.; with the first HUGE limbs occurring at about 80 Ft. And those limbs could be trees in their own right, at about 3-4 Ft. diameter! Granted, there may be some Sugar Pine and White Fir giants mixed in here and there, but it's the Ponderosas and Jeffreys that most definitely COMMAND your attention, with their metallic-looking alligator hide-patterned Barks, and tiers upon pagoda tiers of Limbs, ending in the glossy candelabras of long, thick foliage. At Beehive, and towards the Lake's East end, you will find some handsome strapping Quaking Aspens too, if I recall correctly. Also, at the Inrun stretch of trail, there is a vast field of level to gently sloping glacially polished Granite, polished so heavily (with a few boulder erratics), that it's like tombstones or kitchen countertops, and if the sun hits it just right, you can not look directly at it--absolutely blinding. Soon after exiting the Dam Tunnel, you will encounter highly anomalous Pinon Pines, mixed in with the Digger Pines, and a few Knobcone Pines. The reason for that, is that Hetch Hetchy was along a prime Trade Route, between the more localized Miwok peoples, and the mostly East-Slope peoples of the Monos, Bannocks, Paiutes, Shoshones, and other tribes, where the Pinons more naturally grew. Either a few seeds sifted out of their baskets, or the Miwoks/Ahwhaneechees tried to plant their own groves, so that they wouldn't have to depend upon the Easterners. These sights and more, will make for one heckuva unforgettable experience that you will ALWAYS treasure!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

This trail was not my favorite. It felt grueling and very hot, with little pay off. The lake access is limited due to vegetation. However, the granite surrounding scenery was pretty impressive. It wasn't recommended by the rangers to cross Falls Creek because the water level is much higher than normal, therefore we could not complete the entire loop. That may have changed my rating. Going to just Lake Vernon and back from Hetch Hetchy was not worth the heat and work.

hiking
Sunday, July 02, 2017

All in all, a great hike! The river was flowing today, and it was truly beautiful! My friend and I completed the hike in about 4 hours. Here's my advice though... Wear long pants! The trail is pretty easy to follow, but not very well maintained. I was in shorts today, and was definitely feeling the pain of branches and brush on my legs. Be aware of poison oak! There seems to be a ton of it around the trail. Bring lots of water! It gets long and hot, and easy to drink lots of water.

hiking
Sunday, June 25, 2017

Extraordinary view at the top. First half of trail running along busy road; kinda buzzkill but area is so remote it is the only way and the view at the top is worth it.

backpacking
Friday, June 02, 2017

It was a pretty nice place for a day hike. I went in April after heavy rains so there was a marsh about 3 miles into the hike. The falls were an ok scenery but wasn't worth getting feet wet. I recommend going in the warmer months of the year. The camping is not that great only a small handful of spots to pitch a tent. Everything else is just overgrow or wet. There was definitely a lot of wood to burn though. It's a nice day hike but I wouldn't recommend for overnight camping.

Walked through a lot of burned forest - easy to find water - great views - not too difficult

hiking
Friday, May 26, 2017

We did this hike last Sunday. We drove in on Cherry Lake Rd from 120 – paved road sometimes narrow for dually truck but OK. Great hike very little elevation change and with the Tuolumne River running full bore it is breathtaking. We were wondering when we got to the falls where we should go. We were bouldering around the water’s edge to a flat rock in from of the falls. Great view but wondered if we should not have been above the falls. I think because of the river level the path was not clear. It was pretty wet through the large meadow and several paths could be seen. Hard to find the correct one. Would be good to have a tree marker on either side to show direction you should be going. We would recommend this hike to anyone. The only thing, there is lots of poison oak – long pants are a must and long shirt was required for at least half the hike.

hiking
Friday, May 19, 2017

The trail is easy to miss on the drive down to Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Not much parking, but you pull out to the right side of the road. There are bear boxes there to store your food while you hike. The pull-out has only enough room for 3-4 cars to park, but this is not a popular trail. This trail is short, but steep, infact the steepest official trail in Yosemite National Park. You immediately lose big elevation descending. The trail is not well maintained, a good amount of overgrowth and smatterings of poison oak along the trail. The bottom, in the Poopenaut Valley is lovely, but when we went there was still so much water from this years historic rains that much of the valley was marshy, so couldn't really find a place by the river to sit and enjoy. The hike up makes you pay all the way up. It is a constant grind, and there were plenty of mosquito's at the botton third of the trail that were loving our sweat.

I like the trail, but Yosemite has many more and better to offer, but after you have explored other places around the Hetch Hetchy entrance to the park you might want to check this out. This is a down and back trail, not good for launching a backpacking trip, as no access up or down the Tuolumne river. No camping allowed in this valley.

hiking
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The trail was hard to follow at times because it seemed minimally maintained. Only encountered two other groups of hikers the whole day. NOTE: Some of the trail is flooded right now (May 2017) and requires getting your feet VERY wet and possibly mosquito bitten to make it all the way to the falls. That said, powered through and found the falls delightful. They're short but loud and impressive, and there's nice space to sprawl and recover for the trek back.

hiking
Monday, March 20, 2017

According to a sign at the turn in, this hike is in a day use area that closes at 5 (with locked gate). After a 2 hour drive, I had to turn around b/c we got a late start and I didn't want to be locked in.

backpacking
Thursday, February 16, 2017

It has been years since i have been on this trail and my scout troop is thinking about backpacking to the Falls. I do have a few questions and i hope that someone may have the answer. Is there a place along the trail that we can fit about 30 people? Has anyone fished this? Is it any good and is it barbless? Not sure if you can answer this particular post but any help would be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance

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