Chilnualna Falls – 7.9mi / 12.8km
Chilnualna Creek features a handful of cascades on the beautiful, forested hike up to the wonderful Chilnualna Falls. After a brief walk on the paved Chilnualna Falls Road, the trail takes off along a cascading section of Chilnualna Creek full of immense boulders.
The trail steeply switchbacks up along the white water, joining up with the trail from the horse access and the grade mellows. The trail travels through an ever-changing variety of forest types and open areas. Chilnualna Creek makes appearances in a variety of beautiful cascades along the way.
The trail leaves the creek to gain elevation through the forest. The large, gray Wawona Dome along with the surrounding wooded hills become more visible. You can see Chilnualna Falls in various sections as this tall waterfall crashes in between granite walls and makes a 90-degree turn.
The final approach to the waterfall offers expansive views as you make your way up steps carved in the granite. You reach the top of the largest fall which disappears in the rising mist below. Follow up a few more cascades to a granite landscape scattered with trees, which makes for a great lunch spot before heading back down.
Trailhead: Turn off Wawona Road onto Chilnualna Falls Road as it winds through the North Wawona area for approximately 1.8mi/2.9km to the signed parking for Chilnualna Falls. The signed trailhead is located further up the road just before crossing over the bridge.
Elevation Gain: 2,250ft / 675m – Elevation Loss: 2,250ft / 675m