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Waterwheel Falls Trail



4.2 mile 6.8 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 14' 4 m
Descent: -1,684' -513 m
High: 7,887' 2,404 m
Low: 6,208' 1,892 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 43% (23°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Supriya Limaye

The best of Yosemite's High Country featuring the power and beauty of the Tuolumne River.

Supriya Limaye

Features Birding · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Need to Know

The granite slabs along the falls can be quite slippery and steep! Use caution when photographing the falls.


From the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp this trail descends steadily along the Tuolumne River until you reach Waterwheel Falls. This trail can be done as an out-and-back or linked to other backcountry trails for a truly incredible experience. The singletrack is well-maintained, and it is easy to simply enjoy the views while relaxing on this trail. One of the highlights of this section is the prevalence of powerful waterfalls, so keep an eye out for these beautiful features.

As you hike along the trail you'll be flanked by the mighty Tuolumne River on your left and magnificent granite peaks on your right. The trail begins by passing a meadow edged with a variety of tall trees. It then begins its descent to California Falls followed shortly thereafter by Le Conte Falls and then Waterwheel Falls. The views are unparalleled for its duration and the journey is very enjoyable. Don't forget to save some energy for the way back though... Every foot you drop will have to be re-climbed!

Flora & Fauna

Lodgepole Pines, Jeffrey Pines, Juniper, Sugar Pines, White & Red Firs

History & Background

Fun Fact: Waterwheel Falls is actually not a "fall" at all, but rather a steep cascade where the force of the water is continually launched into the air through a series of naturally occurring "waterwheels". Falls or not, it is a truly spectacular display of nature and is a unique experience for all who visit.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible

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Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

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Aug 26, 2017
Marc Daniel
Jul 24, 2017
Sophia Barwegen
Jul 22, 2017
Robin Brown
Jul 4, 2015
Ryan Stenson

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes


  4.7 from 3 votes
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in California


117 Views Last Month
3,682 Since Aug 27, 2015



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