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Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite + Central Sierra, California

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Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls

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  • The Tuolumne River features numerous waterfalls.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • View from the trail to Waterwheel Falls.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The unique landscape of the Yosemite Wilderness.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The trail passes through a forest.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The trail begins to descend into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • Steep granite cliffs surround the trail on either side.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • One of the many waterfalls along the trail.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • Late evening reflections in the Tuolumne River.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The sun setting over the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • A long exposure photograph of California Falls.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The last rays of light casting a fiery glow on the granite cliffs.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The stars coming out over California Falls.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The Yosemite Wilderness is ideal for stargazing.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The crystal clear waters of the Tuolumne River.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The trail is quite steep.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • View of Waterwheel Falls.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • Another view of Waterwheel Falls.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • Deer are often seen along the trail.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • A hiker walking through a wooded section of the trail.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • Much of the trail back to Glen Aulin is uphill.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • A hiker walking through a wooded section of the trail.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
  • A flower blooming along the trail.- Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Waterfalls. Beautiful views. Wildlife.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Yosemite + Central Sierra, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Number of days: 
2
Highest point: 
7,875.00 ft (2,400.30 m)
Year round: 
No
Open from: 
May 01 to November 01
Parking Pass: 
Park entrance fee
Permit lottery URL: 
https://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/yosemite-wilderness-permit-request-form
Permit required: 
Yes
Permit self-issue on site: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
7.30 mi (11.75 km)
Total elevation gain: 
1,150.00 ft (350.52 m)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,800.00 ft (2,377.44 m)
Typically multi-day: 
Yes
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Waterwheel Falls from Glen Aulin is a hiker’s paradise in Yosemite National Park, and it features picturesque views of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River as well as numerous cascades and swimming holes. The trip is just over 7 miles round trip from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. Although it can certainly be done in one day, hikers often choose to hike the 6 miles into Glen Aulin on the first day and spend the night either at the High Sierra Camp or in the backcountry before continuing on to Waterwheel. 

From Glen Aulin the trail follows the Tuolumne River the entire way to Waterwheel Falls. For the first mile the trail gradually descends across forested hills and sloping granite domes with steep cliffs rising on either side of the river. There are several smaller, unnamed waterfalls along this stretch, and as the trail becomes steeper the waterfalls become taller and more impressive. California Falls is the first of these, followed by Le Conte Falls, and finally Waterwheel Falls. The last mile follows a series of switchbacks to Waterwheel Falls, which features an excellent vantage point of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. From here hikers have the option of heading back to Glen Aulin or continuing into the canyon. The canyon trail intersects at Pate Valley with a trail going to Rodgers Canyon, and several miles later it splits off at Harden Lake with trails leading to Hetch Hetchy, White Wolf, and Aspen Valley.

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(12 within a 30 mile radius)

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(77 within a 30 mile radius)

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