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Snow Creek Falls Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

2.3 mile 3.7 kilometer point to point
47% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,643' 806 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 6,778' 2,066 m
Low: 4,135' 1,260 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 22% (12°)
Max Grade: 46% (25°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Megan W

Very strenuous haul to an astounding valley viewpoint will leave you shaking with fatigue & elation.

Megan W

Features River/Creek · Swimming · Views

Runner Notes

Extremely steep and exposed. Challenging, rocky footing with drop-offs. Bring plenty of water and sun protection for this workout.

Description

To pass the time, some people enjoy counting the switchbacks on this trail (more than 100), while some prefer to go into the pain cave and slam the door. Either way, be prepared for some seriously steep climbing. It is especially important on this grueling trail to bring adequate food, water and sun protection. Although the vistas are best at the top and continually improve with each step of elevation gain, you can enjoy fantastic views from partway up and should choose a turnaround point that matches your own abilities.

The adventure starts at the far end of the Mirror Lake Trail. Start switchbacking immediately after the trail intersection and just keep on going- up and out of Tenaya Canyon. There is not much shade to be had as the trail blasts its way up the granite faces. You are rewarded with good views of various iconic landforms (e.g., Half Dome, Quarter Domes, Clouds Rest) after only a dozen or so switchbacks. The trail surface here is challenging with rocky sections interspersed with drop-offs. The views get better as you climb higher until the trail leaves the open canyon walls and enters the shady forest. The switchbacks mercifully end here and you'll cover nearly flat ground for the last 1/3 mile. Approximately 2.3 miles after beginning the climb, you'll reach a trail junction near Snow Creek. A right at the fork brings you to the footbridge and makes a logical turnaround point.

Besides the spectacular views to be had (run just through the trees and towards Half Dome), some people also wade in Snow Creek's pools and mini-cascades when the conditions are safe. The main Snow Creek Falls are not actually visible or accessible from this trail. Plan to spend some quality relaxation time at this spot before retracing your steps back down to the valley below- you've earned it. Fun factoid: often cited as the steepest trail in the Valley, the Snow Creek Falls Trail covers the same vertical in 1.7 miles as Upper Yosemite Falls does in 3.2 miles, and the Four Mile Trail does in 4.2 miles.

Flora & Fauna

Rattlesnakes have been reported, so please use caution.

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Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

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Check-Ins

Feb 1, 2017
Ben Horowitz
~time approximate; did in winter; bivied somewhere along trail to Tuolumne

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 10 votes

#5182

Overall
  4.3 from 10 votes
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Trail Rankings

#460

in California

#5,182

Overall
34 Views Last Month
2,775 Since May 17, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Half Dome across Tenaya Canyon from the switchbacks.
Jun 7, 2018 near Yosemit…, CA
The swimming hole at Snow Creek offers a great place to cool off after a long hike.
Jan 23, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA

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