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Wapama Falls, CA

Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
  4 of 5 
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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.57 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,846 feet
Elevation Gain 270 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.47
Interest Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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10  2008-07-10 AZLOT69
author avatar Guides 176
Routes 247
Photos 8,556
Trips 1,989 map ( 16,471 miles )
Age 71 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred May, Oct, Apr, Jun → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:14am - 6:52pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Kind of Catchy
by AZLOT69

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The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco left the city without power and water. During the rebuilding years a plan was assembled and ultimately passed by Congress in 1913, allowing a dam and reservoir to be built in Yosemite National Park. John Muir led the opposition. The chief engineer designed a railroad and plan for the dam to be built in 3 1/2 years. Named after the engineer, the O Shaughnessy Dam created the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. It took 20 years overall to complete the system of tunnels, pipeline and facilities which now supply electricity and drinking water to 2.5 million people in the San Francisco Bay area.

The hike starts from the dam, where you can see your destination and get your best overall view of Wapama Falls. Wapama are the most powerful and impressive falls in Yosemite and the least crowded. They are made up of three distinct sections with an overall fall of over 1,000 feet. Cross the dam and enter the granite railroad tunnel at the far end. The railroad was last used in 1947. Parts of the old railroad tracks are still used today as guardrails and supports for the trail. The trail is on a steady grade as you work along the lakefront toward the falls. Watch for poison oak which is plentiful along the trail. Deer, bear, lizards and rattlesnakes are also plentiful. The first trail intersection you come to is well marked and be sure to turn right, signed Wapama Falls. The trail gets a little vague to follow as it crosses a section of barren flat granite. There is no use of cairns here, simply aim straight and you pick up a trail in about 300 yards. There are wooden bridges over feeder creeks which undoubtedly have a strong flow of water in the spring. You gain some elevation now and the well constructed trail uses sculpted granite for steps. After a short distance the falls become audible and in a few hundred more yards you get a side profile of the lower falls. Steps now lead you down to the base of the falls. Three section of wooden bridge walkways carry you over the base of the falls. You are going to get wet from the mist and at times the water actually flows over the walkway making it hazardous to continue. The thunderous flow of water is impressive and the views of Hetch Hetchy are awesome. Once you have had your fill return the way you came.

Note: There is a movement by activists to remove the dam and restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-07-16 AZLOT69
  • Yosemite Park Map
    area related
    Yosemite Park Map
  • Yosemite Campgrounds
    area related
    Yosemite Campgrounds

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$
Information is listed below

Yosemite National Park
Entrance Fees
Wilderness Permit
Half Dome Permit - Currently required 7 days a week. Check the link for the most up to date information.

2014 - 300 permits issued daily, 225 for dayhikers.
2013 - 400 permits issued daily, 300 for dayhikers.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Wapama is part of Yosemite National Park but its access is fractured from the main park. It is in an area known as Hetch Hetchy. From Yosemite Valley take highway 120 north and exit the park thru the Big Oak Flat Gate. A mile past the gate turn at the well marked intersection with Evergreen Road to Hetch Hetchy. Take Evergreen Road 16 miles to Camp Mather. One mile to the right is reentry to Yosemite. Stay on the road to the dam, where a lot is designated for day use. Remember your receipt to re enter the park. $20.00 auto entry. $10.00 motorcycle or bicycle, good for 7 days.
page created by AZLOT69 on Jul 16 2008 10:06 am
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool

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