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Yosemite NP – Hetch Hetchy, Wapama Falls Day Hike
What? : In
spring, when the water flow is at it peek from snow melting, two of North
America’s tallest waterfalls plummet spectacularly over thousand-foot granite
cliffs. The 1,400 feet of Wapama Falls and the 800 feet Tueeulala Falls.
This is a 5.5
miles out and back hike, the trail is level on the same height with almost no
climbing (elevation gain of 200 feet), plan for 2.5 - 4 hours hike.
Additional Yosemite and nearby locations blogs:
Where? : Located in Hetch
Hetchy section of Yosemite National Park
When? : The best time
to visit here is at spring when the waterfall are flowing with water.
Summer can be
relatively hot (due to the relatively low elevation), at late fall when upper
sections of the park are close to access this area of the park is still open
because the snow comes late here.
At winter month
after major snow storm the road down to Hetch Hetchy is closed.
Check at the
park website for exact road conditions and road closer:
Note: last time I was
here was in 2020
Due note 1: This road has
seasonal hours corresponding roughly with daylight hours; during summer 2022
the road will be open from 8 am to 5 pm.
See website for
Due note 2: Dogs and other
pets are prohibited on all trails and on the dam. Dogs are only allowed in the
parking area, and they must be always leashed.
Due note 3: There is no
service or visitor center in this section of the park.
Due note 4: Swimming and
boating are prohibited in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Due note 5: There are
restrooms at the upper parking lot.
Due note 6: Although less crowded
compared to Yosemite Valley you won't be alone here, since it is the main
attraction in this park section and most visitors hiking this trail, but it not
Due note 7: The Wapama
Falls footbridge can be close at early spring when waterfall water levels are
too high, this only happened years with a lot of snowfall and hot early spring.
Due note 8: This is exposed
trail without any shade, carry plenty of water and use sunscreen.
I visit here
several times, hiking along the impressive Hetch Hetchy lake and see Wapama
Falls up close. Fan and relatively easy-going hike.
Few general hiking guidelines:
established trails, pack out what you pack in, Overnight backpackers need a
wilderness permit, carry (and drink) plenty of water. Be sure to treat river,
stream, lake, or spring water.
The nearest gas
station is located on highway 120, 4.4 miles east of the junction of highway
120 with Evergreen rd.
another gas station inside the Yosemite Park highway 120, 7.8 miles east of the
At the small
place called Mather you can find few hotels (Evergreen Lodge cabins or Rush
Creek Lodge) and lodges and here you can also find small General Store to buy
There is the
new lodge on highway 120 and Evergreen: Rush Creek Lodge and Spa at Yosemite
You can also
find many hotels and restaurants at the small town of Groveland.
Hetch Hetchy is
part of Yosemite National Park, but the entrance is separate from the rest of
the park roads.
Coming on highway 120 from the
A half an hour’s
drive east from Groveland via Highway 120 you will reach a clearly mark exit to
your left into Evergreen Road (just after the new “Rush Creek Lodge and Spa at
Yosemite” and just before getting into Yosemite NP north entrance).
You will drive
down on all the way until you will reach a T junction at. Here turn right onto Hetch
Hetchy Rd. and after 2.6 miles you will entering Yosemite National Park pay
station. Drive slowly the next 8 miles where the road plunging into the deep
canyon of the Tuolumne River, from some viewing point along the road you can
see far below you the impressive O’Shaughnessy Dam concrete structure.
Coming on highway 120 from
Yosemite National Park:
Pass and exit
the Yosemite Park north entrance and after a short 1.2 mile drive you will see
a clear turn to your right.
above instructions to Yosemite Hetch Hetchy section.
Near the end of
the road, you will drive into one lane section, pass the building on your right,
and drive down to the dam, here you will find plenty of parking spots along the
right side of the road. If there aren’t any available parking spots here, you
need follow the loop back up and find parking at the junction or at the backpacking
Start this hike
at the dam, cross it to it remote side and pass through the large man-made tunnel
to the other side of the rock. From here the hike follows the shoreline of the
reservoir with moderate up and downhill hiking.
After 1 mile
you will reach the trail junction that climb up the cliffs to your left, keep
The trail finds
it way along the cliff base, here you may pass wet sections.
After 1.9 mil
you will pass at the foot base of the 800 ft Tueeulala Falls that are flowing
only at springtime.
After 2.5 miles
from the starting point, you will reach the Wapama Falls Bridge construction that
will provide a safe way to cross the stream and excellent up-close view of the
lowest section of Wapama Falls.
You can’t see from this location the top cascade
section of the falls high in the mountains above you.
spring flows, the thundering waterfall can wash over the bridge making it
dangerous to cross.
turn around here, hike back you are following the same way you arrived on, the
view is different in this direction.
You can hike
continue past the Wapama Falls bridge to Rancheria Falls. This will be long 13.5-mile
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