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Hiking The Sierra Nevada
by Barry Parr (Falcon Guides)
Of Yosemite’s highest waterfalls, Chilnualna is the most reclusive, showing itself only to hikers willing to toil up a trail too homely and switchbacked ever to be called a crowd-pleaser. The Chilnualna Trail offers many pleasures of a more subtle hue, not the least of which might be solitude. To tackle it on a hot summer’s afternoon takes a bit of fortitude and a couple quarts of water, but the trail makes an invigorating muscle-stretcher in spring or fall, when high-country routes are under snow.
Best Easy Day Hikes: Yosemite National Park
by Suzanne Swedo (Falcon Guides)
Chilnualna Creek seldom flows quietly—it rushes and crashes and roars almost constantly for most of its length. One of the most spectacular sections of falling water is just above the point where Chilnualna Creek passes beneath Chilnualna Road and flows into the Merced River. It is as exciting as any of the more famous falls in Yosemite Valley, but few people see it, tucked away as it is in this little corner of the park. This trail takes you so close to the action that you’re likely to get soaked from the spray if you go early in the year.
Hiking Yosemite National Park
Chilnualna Creek seldom flows slowly, but instead tumbles in cascades and waterfalls almost constantly for most of its length. The most spectacular sections and highest waterfalls are found at the beginning and end of the hike, and the trail has been built so that it comes closest to the river at the beginning and end. It's a steady, uphill pull, but the grade is comfortable. This route would be much more heavily used if it were not tucked away in a little corner of Yosemite. The waterfall is as exciting as any in Yosemite Valley, but few tourists know about it.
Hiking Waterfalls in Northern California
by Tracy Salcedo-Chourré (Falcon Guides)
A short, easy hike leads to the bottommost plunge of Chilnualna Fall outside Wawona.This is the easy way out: A nearly fl at walk of less than a mile leads to what could be called the tail end of Chilnualna Fall, the last plunge on Chilnualna Creek before it cascades into the South Fork Merced River. It’s a pleasant lowland Yosemite excursion, nice for an afternoon stroll after a visit to the Mariposa Grove. Chilnualna Fall, composed of five cascades along more than 4 miles of Chilnualna Creek, flows year-round, though in late season (or drought) the watercourse and waterfall thin to streams. This may not be what waterfall lovers crave, but even when the water slows up, the last plunge of the long fall fills a lovely, shaded pool suitable for wading and toe-dangling.
Great short and strenuous hike, Definitely a day hike that we turned into an overnight hike, just to camp at the top of the waterfall. Very cold in May!
Major problems: trouble finding a parking spot (you can use free shuttle), crowds in the lower part of the grove (ususlly ends by the Giant Grizzly tree), noisy tram tour (loops along the trail in some parts). Otherwise a very pleasant and mildly moderate hike to see the giants.
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