Wapama Falls Trail
Seeking an exciting adventure in Yosemite National Park? Well, the Wapama Falls Trail is an epic hike through various settings that make for an incredible day. Wander across the O’Shaughnessy Dam, through an eerie tunnel, along the shores of Tuolumne River and to the footbridges damped by the impressive cascades of Wapama Falls.
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Route Description for Wapama Falls Trail
Hiking the Wapama Falls Trail is an awesome adventure in Yosemite that boasts breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada’s granite peaks that bound the Tuolumne River, as well as panoramas of the mesmerizing cascades of Wapama Falls. Not too technical, the terrain here is rocky and uneven in sections, so we recommended wearing sturdy footwear. We also suggest bringing along a flashlight as the tunnel is quite dark! The impressive falls are fed by Lake Vernon and tend to dry in the late summer, so be sure to head out in the spring to see them at their peak.
Note: the footbridges at the base of the falls become incredibly slippery from the spray of the surging falls, so mind your footing. Additionally, Wapama Falls have been known to inundate the bridges below. Do not proceed if the cascades are surging over the bridges, as crossing under these conditions has proven to be fatal in the past. Note: Yosemite charges an entrance fee; refer to the NPS website for more information.
The Hetch Hetchy Valley is an exciting area of Yosemite that offers a diversity of scenery. The Wapama Falls, which cascade down the northern wall of the valley, is perhaps our favorite waterfall in the park. Though not as grand as Yosemite Falls, the cascades are equally as hypnotizing and less busy! The Wapama Falls Trail travels through diverse terrains– over dams, through tunnels, along forested paths, and over footbridges, before rewarding hikers with the breathtaking sights of the falls. Let the cool alpine mist rejuvenate you as you stand beneath the impressive falls that cascade over the smooth granite cliffside.
Embark on your adventure along the Wapama Falls Hike from the Wapama and Rancheria Fall Trailhead. Setting out from the trailhead, you will be guided north over the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Let the picture-perfect sight of the Tuolumne River bounded by the Kolana Rock and Hetch Hetchy Dome in the east overwhelm you. Soon after crossing the dam, you will be guided into a dark tunnel—a flashlight will prove useful here! Wander through the damp tunnel and the path will open again, bringing you alongside the western shore of Tuolumne River.
Hike along the dirt path through mixed pine forests and enjoy the views of the shimmering river below. Mind your footing as you meander along this path as there are a few rocks that impede the terrain. Eventually, you will reach an intersection and keep right to continue tracking alongside the river. Soon you will reach the famous wood footbridges that sit at the base of the Wapama Falls. If safe, proceed over the bridges and you will be rewarded with amazing views of the 329 m waterfall. Let the mist cool you off as you admire the mesmerizing snow-melt cascades. Once you are through ogling the falls, retrace your footing along the path back to the trailhead.
At 329 m tall, Wapama Falls is ranked as the 148th tallest waterfall in the world and can be found in Yosemite National Park. Falls Creek, which is fed by Lake Vernon in the north, cascades down the northern wall of Hetch Hetchy Valley. Sectioned into three distinct falls the largest drop cascades over 91 m. Flowing seasonally, the falls are known to inundate the bridge at the base in the springs, making the route impassible and dangerous.
Frequently Asked Questions
When do the Wapama Falls dry?
The Wapama Falls tend to dry up in the late summer season.
How long is the Wapama Falls Hike?
The Wapama Falls Trail is a 7.4 km out-and-back trail.
Insider Hints for Wapama Falls Trail
- Avoid nearing the bridge if the cascades are surging, though tempting, crossing the bridge when inundated with water has proven fatal in the past
- Exercise caution on the terrain below the falls, the mist often makes the path slippery
- Bring a flashlight for the tunnel!
- To be prepared, pack an extra pair of socks as your feet will likely get wet!
Getting to the Wapama Falls Trail Trailhead
The Wapama Falls Trail departs from the Wapama and Rancheria Fall Trailhead off Hetch Hetchy Road.
Wapama Falls Trail Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
Wapama Falls Trail Reviews
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