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[Yosemite]

Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Postby mikerain » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:22 am

I plan to hike to Waterwheel Falls this summer, as it should be spectacular due to El Nino. However, my knees aren't what they used to be. I wonder if there's any way to make it a shorter hike. All I can see is 18 miles round trip from Tuolumne Meadows. I could break up the hike by staying overnight at Glen Aulin, but I have zero chance of getting reservations there for this summer.

Anyone know of a route that's not so long?
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Re: Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Postby Phil » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:05 pm

I suppose with your knees that cross-country is out of the question? If it is, then Glen Aulin via Soda Springs is still the easiest and best route. The thing is that Waterwheel is still only going to be doing its thing until maybe the end of June-ish....not peak, but still a waterwheel. Go earlier to enjoy it. Glen Aulin is no doubt packed with reserved slots, but there's always the 40% walk-ups in the quota. The better option is probably to get your permit for Glen Aulin>Waterwheel Falls on a pass-through (that's what to ask for, specifically). If you can't find a more secluded spot along the river up higher, but past Glen Aulin, once you drop down the hill, and before the bridge, there are some trailside campsites on the flat area by Return Creek.

I honestly don't think that El Nino is going to necessarily lengthen the best viewing much longer than it usually does. It'll most likely just make the peak flow period that much more spectacular.

It probably isn't going to help you out much on distance or effort, but if you can't get a reservation, get to the park and find all the walk-ups gone, and still want to see the falls, Murphy Creek is another entry that'll get you to where you're going.
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Re: Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:10 am

There's one trail to it. You go from White Wolf or you go from Tuolumne. Taking a different trailhead adds, not subtracts. Cross country cuts miles but can add complexity of rocks and fallen trees and brush to slow you waaaaaaayyyyyyyy down.

You can cut daily miles in half by getting a wilderness permit and spending the night out there tho. Although it's late to reserve- very popular trail.
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Re: Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Postby Phil » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:17 am

AlmostThere wrote:
You can cut daily miles in half by getting a wilderness permit and spending the night out there tho. Although it's late to reserve- very popular trail.


Even though it's longer and harder, if he absolutely has to get to Waterwheel, and permits just aren't available via Soda Springs, that was my only thinking in suggesting Murphy Creek. That descent from White Wolf down to Pate Valley would be murderous on the knees. He might be able to pull it off from behind Pothole Dome, but I've never tried it, and I have no idea how they might (if they even would) handle permitting.
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Re: Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Postby balzaccom » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:18 pm

Actually, there is one shortcut that all the staff at Glen Aulin use. Park on Tioga Road just West of Pothole Dome. Head due North until you hit the use trail and follow it down river to the bridge. Should cut at least a mile off each leg.
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Re: Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Postby Phil » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:52 pm

That's good to know. I thought that might be a viable route that should be free from most obstacles because of the open nature of the meadow. Even though the staff uses it, do you have any idea how/if they would issue that as a wilderness permit?
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Re: Waterwheel Falls - Different route

Postby balzaccom » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:20 pm

Nope. You need a Glen Aulin permit, no matter where you start. Ours was a pass-through, as we hiked past Glen Aulin and up Conness Creek.
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