Hike to the Top of Chilnualna Falls

Chilnualna Falls Trailhead

A lesser traveled hike in Yosemite, Chilnualna Falls is an awesome day hike with beautiful views once you reach the summit. 

Many visitors to Yosemite head straight to the valley and don't often explore the other areas of the park. So if you are interested in staying away from the massive crowds and getting to enjoy the beauty of the park a little more quietly, the Wawona is a great option for a getaway. 

The Chilnualna Falls hike is about 4.5 miles each way and you gain approximately 2,300 feet of elevation. So though it is not the steepest waterfall hike in Yosemite, it isn't the easiest either.  I would definitely bring a decent amount of water and either a snack or lunch to enjoy at the top. 

The hike is tree-covered the majority of the way so there is decent shade but you pop out at times to breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and mountains. The trail also follows along the river where there are many opportunities to hop off the trail and venture down to the water to hang out. 

Once you get to the top there is a lot of open space to hang out, cool off in the water, and enjoy the view! 

Pack List

  • Hiking Shoes
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Food/Snack 
Show More
RT Distance 9.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 2300 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Family Friendly
Forest
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Best trip

This was an amazing backpacking trip - great for beginners and experienced backpackers! Fresh water, amazing rainbows, lots of wildlife (bear, marmot, deer, rattlesnake). Got walk-up permits for free the morning of.

Great hike outside the more populated valley

I've done this hike two years in a row in late February and the trips were very different. In 2016 I made it all the way to the top without any issues. It was cool outside, sun was out, there was a little bit of wind but more noticeably, no snow. In 2017 I did it again and I couldn't make it to the top. I was breaking new snow for about half a mile before I had to turn around. The wind was more predominant and it was significantly colder. Both years the trip has been beautiful, and challenging at times with the elevation gain. Overall it's a solid hike with gorgeous views.

Backpack/camp Chilnualna Falls

Easy hike, great camp site, nice water, good views.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Backpack to Johnson Lake

Your trek begins at the Chilnualna Falls trailhead in Wawona near the South Gate in Yosemite.

46 Saves

Backpack to Buena Vista Lake, Yosemite

Hiking and camping at Buena Vista Lake is a beautiful way to see the south side of Yosemite… the name says it all.

202 Saves

Backpack to Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake is another beautiful spot a long the Beuna Vista loop. Starting at the Chilnualna Trailhead in Wawona, you start your journey climbing about 4.

80 Saves