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On my second trip to Yosemite I decided to bypass the traffic and people of the valley and found a hike close to the south gate; Chilnualna Falls. The Chilnualna Falls hike is an 8.5 mile trail which begins and ends with beautiful falls. The namesake waterfall, Chilnualna, is at the top of the climb and absolutely stunning. I completed this hike in around 4.5 hours.
Parking for the Chilnualna Falls hike is limited (maybe 20-30 cars), which made the trail rather empty and relaxing. Because of the limited parking this is a trail that is good to start early in the morning (I started at 8am) before parking spots are all taken. The limited parking resulted in a less trafficked, quieter trail.
At the base of the hike you pass a small waterfalls, pictured below. The trail to get by this fall is a little steep to climb, which is one of the more challenging footing parts of the hike.
When you pass the initial falls the rest of the hike is on an easy to follow trail. The top portion is a series of switch backs which lead to the summit.
The top of the Chilnualna Falls hike was about 20 degrees colder than most of the trail and I wore a hat, gloves and jacket while during most of the rest of the trail I was in a long sleeved shirt with no winter gear. I would definitely recommend to wear and bring layers on this hike due to the change in climate from the top to the bottom of the trail.
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