Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
393.00 ft (119.79 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Fallen Log swimming hole could be renamed "Twice Fallen Log": Its namesake log has fallen again from its original perch over the Merced River, where it once toppled to bridge the gap from one side of the river to the other. It had kindly done so above one of the deeper pools, which made for a fantastic jump spot. That said, its absence does not make this swim hole any less incredible.

The deepest part is easily 15 feet deep. The water is crystal clear, and it's common to see trout hovering in the depths. There is a squat, powerful waterfall that challenges you to swim as close to it as possible. Another waterfall, with a more graceful nature, spills about 10 feet. Over the years it has worn a "keyhole" into the granite approximately 4 feet deep. You can stand in it, feel large cobbles beneath your feet, and let the waterfall cascade over your head. There is a spot for a short cliff jump.

All this, however, depends on accessibility. A massive wildfire ripped through the area in 2018, leaving piles of debris clogging former access points. Ever so slowly, there are signs that a few determined souls are forging new access points, and soon those spots will be well worn and inviting. Another consideration are river flow levels. When the levels are high, as they were in 2019, there is a continuous wall of water between the traditionally two separate waterfalls. This made jumping into the pool below from the 15-foot cliff impossible.

Is it worth it to go to the Fallen Log? Yes! Should you be that person who hits it when the water levels are ideal and accessibility has returned, you'll get to enjoy one of the best swimming holes Yosemite has to offer. The Fallen Log has the potential to be crowded, but this is crowded by Wawona standards, not Yosemite Valley or Mariposa Grove.

How to Get There

If you're staying in one of the Wawona's cabins, everything is accessible by foot. If you're driving in, follow Chilnualna Falls Road and start your hike at the Chilnualna Falls trailhead parking lot. From the trailhead, follow the road across the bridge. Continue until you reach a dead end. From here you'll see a sign for the Swinging Bridge (0.7 mile). The path is well-marked.

The path takes you through meadows and forests filled with ponderosa pines. Many trees are dying from a mountain pine beetle outbreak, but a few hardy soldiers are standing strong. There are swaths of burn areas, but many portions remain untouched. The path is anchored by views of Wawona Dome, a large granite monolith that has retained its wildness (there is no demarcated path to the top). You'll see lupine, yarrow, and bear clover, a sticky low-growing shrub and the source of that dominating and unusual spicy, cinnamon, pungent perfume that permeates the air. It mixes with pine, dust, and mountain air scrubbed even cleaner by the nearby river. It's pretty awesome.

When you get to the Swinging Bridge, simply continue to follow the path upstream. From this point, the path stays relatively close to the river. The Fallen Log is about three-quarters of a mile past the Swinging Bridge. If you get there and decide you can't swim it, retrace your steps until you find a good option along the river on your way back to take a cooling dip.

The water is clear as glass, but it contains giardia. Don't drink it. The path is often in bright sunshine. A hat, reef-safe sunscreen, and bottled water are recommended. The 5-mile distance is there and back from the Chilnualna Falls Road Trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Gorgeous path. Beautiful Views. Follows a river.

Cons

Recent burn swaths. Difficult to access.

Trailhead Elevation

4,106.00 ft (1,251.51 m)

Highest point

4,288.00 ft (1,306.98 m)

Net Elevation Gain

368.00 ft (112.17 m)

Features

Wildlife
Waterfalls
Near lake or river
Fishing

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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