Explore the most popular 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.

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on Preston Falls Trail

hiking
1 day 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.

nature trips
3 days ago

I would rate this more as a nature hike. The trail is fairly easy until the last 1/4 mile. From there it becomes steep and rocky until you reach the falls. We did it with a 4 year old in tow.
The trail is within the burn area of the 2013 Rim Fire, it provided a great learning opportunity for our 12 year old to see the devastation and regrowth as part of our nature's cycle.
The falls are amazing with pools to dip in if you dare (that water is icy! brrrr!!).

Great place to visit

hiking
10 days ago

There are several short hikes here and you can easily jump from one to the other. The parking area was not clean and maintained. Pretty sad all the garbage was over flowing. The trail is not really special and yes was burned several years ago.
The falls are worth the hike. Great swimming holes and cold water!

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
1 month 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.

Easy hike, plenty of space to park, restrooms, beautiful view!!!

hiking
3 months ago

I found this to be a wonderful winter trek. Following the river up to the falls, clear water, cataplier, mushrooms, birds, and snow. I look forward to visiting again in the summer. Easy hike with some moderate (steep) hiking up to the falls.

hiking
3 months ago

Can't wait to go back in the summer, but this was a beautiful winter hike. Just a few slick spots and snow, but we'll worth the effort. Gorgeous waterfall and Crystal clear water on this quiet easy stroll.

hiking
4 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
4 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!

Easy to navigate, beautiful forest and nearby river. Plenty of parking with restrooms.

backpacking
5 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
5 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.

Easy hike/walk along the stream with a small cascading waterfall at the end. Pretty fun way to pass some time, but I wouldn't seek this one out with so many other great trails around.

hiking
7 months ago

We could not make it all the way. We saw cattle that blocked our way and we could not go through them. There were no people around.

on Carlon Falls Trail

7 months ago

Great easy hike with the kids. The parking area is tiny. There’s additional parking and a vault toilet on the opposite side of the river from the trailhead.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful waterfalls

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.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful place

backpacking
8 months ago

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

8 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..

hiking
8 months ago

easy at first. moderate as you get closer to the falls. some hills. a little confusing, lots of trails split off to the right and go to the river before the final fall. beautiful and lots of space to hang out.

hiking
9 months ago

Took a great family hike ranging from 5-69 it was great! Falls at the end were spectacular and we all had fun swimming.

By far the best hidden secret near Yosemite! Stayed at Hodgdon Meadows Campground this past week and this trail is literally minutes away from the campground. Parked at the trailhead off of Evergreen Road. The hike if fairly easy, my kids (ages 16 and 10) including my 65 year old Dad did this trail. The swimming hole was such a reward at the end of the trail along with the waterfalls. Swam for a while and took it all in! Will definitely be adding this trail to my to do's every time I go to Yosemite now!

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.

Trail itself is okay. Very sandy. What makes it worth the trip is the waterfall at the end.

hiking
10 months ago

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.

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