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Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne



16.5 mile 26.5 kilometer point to point
85% Runnable


Ascent: 3,905' 1,190 m
Descent: -2,624' -800 m
High: 7,482' 2,280 m
Low: 4,248' 1,295 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 51% (27°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Willie Virgen

An amazing singletrack through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River.

Willie Virgen

Features Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Runner Notes

Lots of granite rocks (big & small), roots, and grassy areas. Be careful as the rocks are slippery when wet.


Granite walls, the roar of the Tuolumne River, waterfall after waterfall, pristine swimming holes to cool off in... this trail has it all. Roughly 16 miles from one end to the other (Waterwheel Falls Trail to White Wolf), this is one trail that you'll want to take your time on to admire the insanely amazing beauty that is Yosemite.

We started on the Glen Aulin side on the Waterwheel Falls Trail to connect to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, and made our way to the midpoint of the trail to be smack dab in the middle of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. The trail is mostly singletrack dirt with lots of granite sprinkled in. It is a really easy trail to follow as it follows the Tuolumne River for the entirety of the trail. It is one of the popular routes to take in Yosemite, so expect a fair amount of fellow backpackers, through-hikers, runners, etc.

We stopped and camped along the way. From there, we ventured all the way out to Pate Valley and back to return to the campsite the following day. (The section of trail between Harden Lake and Pate Valley is also sometimes called the Pate Valley Trail) There are exposed areas and lots of areas of shade, so plan accordingly. Supportive, grippy shoes are a must in some areas as the incline/decline can wear on you fast when you first venture down into the canyon. There are numerous intersections with other trails along the way.

This is an awesome through-trail, so if possible, bring two cars.

If you time it right, the swimming hole at the base of California Falls is prime for a nice little dip!

Flora & Fauna

Signature Yosemite here. Lots of tall, tall trees, shrubs, grasses, mixed in with squirrels, some deer, and the occasional black bear.

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Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

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Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 5 votes


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in California


97 Views Last Month
4,901 Since Sep 2, 2015



Calm and peaceful.
Dec 23, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Waterwheel Falls Trail.
Dec 23, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Looking out towards the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.
Dec 23, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Heading into the canyon.
Dec 23, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Dec 23, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Waterwheel Falls Trail.
Dec 23, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA


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