Last updated: June 29, 2022
Hetch Hetchy is home to a diverse array of plants and animals, and in spring and early summer, home to brightly colored wildflowers. Enjoy a day hike or overnight backpacking trip (wilderness permit required) in this area at any time throughout the year.
Hetch Hetchy's relatively low elevation provides for one of the longest hiking seasons in Yosemite, and the varied trails include something for everyone.
Wapama Fall five-mile, round-trip hike follows the shoreline of the reservoir with moderate up and downhill hiking. The trail includes spectacular views of Tueeulala and Wapama Falls.
The trail to Rancheria Falls continues past Wapama Fall and may be done as either a long day hike (13 miles round trip) or a backpacking trip. Along the way, hikers will see beautiful views of the valley and waterfalls. Backpackers can access Tiltill or Rancheria mountains and the vast northwest wilderness of Yosemite from the Rancheria area.
Visit the Hetch Hetchy Entrance to get more information about hikes in this area.
Wapama Fall (moderate)
5 miles (8 km) round-trip; 2 hours
Rancheria Falls (moderate)
13.4 miles (21.4 km) round-trip; 6 to 8 hours
Year-round, however, winter weather conditions may cause road closures. Call 209-372-0200 for the latest road and weather conditions. The road is currently open only from 8 am to 5 pm.
There is no access to Hetch Hetchy trailheads by car when road is closed.
The trailhead is located across the O'Shaughnessy Dam and through the tunnel. The O'Shaughnessy Dam is located on the Hetch Hetchy Road, which begins just outside the park on Highway 120, near the Big Oak Flat Entrance.
Rules & Regulations:
Stay on established trails
Pets are not allowed on hiking trails
Pack out what you pack in.
Overnight backpackers need a wilderness permit, which can be obtained at the Hetch Hetchy Entrance until 5pm, at no cost.
Bear canisters are required for wilderness food storage for overnight hikers.
Bears and other wildlife can be present on trails at any time of the day or night. Feeding and approaching wildlife is dangerous and illegal! Be sure to properly store your food.
Hazards & Warnings:
Carry (and drink) plenty of water: a leading cause of injuries on the trail is dehydration. Be sure to treat river, stream, lake, or spring water.
Carry sunscreen and watch for rattlesnakes and poison oak.
Always carry a map and compass, and know how to use them, and wear sturdy footwear with good traction.
Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and conditions.
This trailhead is not accessible.