Features: Lake — Waterfall — Wildflowers
Family Friendly: An easy trail along the shore with lots to see along the way including some great waterfalls.
Dogs: No Dogs
Most people approach this trail by parking on the other side of the Dan O'Shaughnessy Dam and hiking out the Miguel Meadow Fire Road. Leave the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir parking lot on the far side of the O'Shaughnessy Dam and hike along Miguel Meadow Fire Road for about a mile.
Most of this trail is very open with very little shade, so making sure you have enough water is important as it can get hot as the day progresses. Views of the dam and shoreline are easy to come by on this trail, so take the opportunity to try to picture this valley without all the water in it. John Muir believed it to rival Yosemite in terms of scenic beauty.
The trail curves through little gardens and pockets of wildflowers as the trail makes it's way down from the Miguel Meadow Fire Road. At this point the trail can be very narrow, or wide as it crosses granite rocks by the shore. As you work your way toward Tueeulala Falls, a seasonal waterfall that covers the trail in the spring, you begin to encounter an area where wildflowers can be viewed. Fed by snow melt, the creek that feeds this fall is usually dry by mid-June.
At this point, the trail descends briefly and then starts to climb up some steps dynamited into the rock. You cross a bridge over a deep ravine, where your view of the Tuolumne River
flowing into the reservoir is possibly at its best. At this point, Kolana Rock sits on the opposite shore, rising high above the waterline.
Eventually, you'll reach the main event - Wapama Falls. The water descends almost 1,100 feet as it plunges 300 feet at the top, 600 feet through a steep gorge, and then another 200 feet as the water make its way down into the reservoir. Take in the view underneath the falls as the water thunders over the cliffs and creates a drenching spray.
The trail ends at the Wapama Falls footbridge, which at times can be flooded when there is a lot of water flowing in the early spring. Note, that if the water is high and moving fast over the bridge, it could be dangerous to attempt to cross the bridge. The falls are in full view at this point as the water plunges almost over the edge, and then makes it way into the reservoir via several different paths.