Carlon Falls

Tucked away in the remote western edge of Yosemite lies a pretty series of cascades along the South Fork Tuolumne River known as Carlos Falls. The hike is mostly level and is great in the spring with a wonderful variety of flowers and higher water.

I mistakenly parked at the picnic area on the south side of the Tuolumne River before realizing my mistake and crossed over the river on the Evergreen Road to the actual trailhead. The Rim Fire hadn’t burned right at the road and the river was crowded with lush vegetation and loads of birds singing.

Once I started on the trail proper, the effects of the fire could be seen. The fire burned hot and scorched most of the trees. Not all of the trees were burned however, and the vegetation that follows a fire brought colors, not only of green, but of purple, red, yellow, pink, and a variety of other colors in the multitude of flowers to be found.

Right after starting out on the trail, I came to the dilapidated foundations of the old Carl Inn where a lodge used to sit, run by a woman named Carlon leading to an establishment with a fun play on words. That inn is now (obviously) gone and only some foundations and the naming of the falls remain.

The trail is mostly level, wandering along the river which makes for a pleasant stroll. While I could always hear the river, the trail only occasionally visited it. The fire and infrequent maintenance left a handful of trees to navigate that had fallen across the trail, but overall, the first half was easy walking.

After a mostly level walk, the trail began to climb in short sections. One section of the trail crossed a cutbank that was eroding such that I had to follow some social trails to scramble around to the trail on the other side.

Once on the other side, trail climbed more as it wrapped around the hillside turning northeast. The river was a long collection of rapids eventually coming to the big drop in a series of cascades that was Carlon Falls.

It was easy to get to the water’s edge and the cascades both above and below the falls were wonderful. It was a rare treat in Yosemite to have a trail mostly to myself and a lovely waterfall to myself as well.

I checked out a few more flowers and turned back to the trailhead observing birds and a Western Gray Squirrel along the way.


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