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.



Where? :

Located in Hetch Hetchy section of Yosemite National Park

Google Map Link


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 up-to-date information:




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 and near the road before the dam.


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 is not overcrowded.


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.



My thoughts:

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:

Stay on 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.



Gas Stations:

The nearest gas station is located on highway 120, 4.4 miles east of the junction of highway 120 with Evergreen Rd.

There is another gas station inside the Yosemite Park highway 120, 7.8 miles east of the park entrance.



Nearby Hotels:

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 food.

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.


Driving directions:


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 West:

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.

Follow the 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 parking lot.



The Hike:


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 walking straight.

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.

During peak spring flows, the thundering waterfall can wash over the bridge making it dangerous to cross.


Most people 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 round-trip.










Additional Pictures: