So, I'm here again to share some cool places within Yosemite! Lately, I have made it a goal to try to get to places within Yosemite that are out of the "touristy" areas. If you have ever been to Yosemite Valley, you know how crowded it could get to be; however, once you go a little deeper into the Yosemite wilderness, you experience a very different Yosemite. You experience one that is even more wild than you thought before.
For this trip, a group of friends & I headed out to find the place called Tenaya Creek Falls; commonly nicknamed as "Hidden Falls" in Yosemite. Hidden Falls is a beautiful cluster of three waterfalls that are located on Tenaya Creek situated within Tenaya Canyon. Like Middle Earth, this place is mainly known by many locals within the park; however, it seems to have made it's way on to the internet so I will share on how to get to this location, too!
This hike is about a 6 mile trek roundtrip but not too strenuous (if you hike a moderate amount) however you may need to scramble over some rocks due to a recent rockslide that happened on the trail. Other than that, this hike is well worth the trek because of the oasis awaiting at Hidden Falls.
To get to Hidden Falls you must follow the trail to Mirror Lake. The trailhead for Mirror Lake is situated at the NorthEast part of the valley beyond Curry Village. You will follow a paved walkway up to Mirror Lake (which is absolutely beautiful at certain times in the year, especially spring). Follow the dirt trail that leads to a footbridge that crosses Tenaya Creek. However, at the footbridge, look for a dirt trail that continues upstream to the SouthEast of Tenaya Creek. It's pretty easy to spot. At a certain point, you will have to make your way over some rocks and boulders (pictured below) due to recent rockslides. At this location where you see the trail covered by boulders, take a breather & a water-break; and while you're at it look upwards. You will notice that you are sitting directly at the very, very base of Half Dome. It's an incredible sight to see the sheer wall of Half Dome directly above you.
Continuing onward, (depending on which way you go - seeing as the trail is covered and hard to find, some people make their own way. . . use caution when looking for the trail. It is dangerous to head off trail and I definitely don't recommend doing so. Sometimes when off trail you approach dangerous drop-offs or walls that are hard to pass through) you will need to make your way upward through some of the boulders. Eventually, you should hear the roar of the waterfalls (which is more noticeable than you'd think); then follow the sound until you are greeted by the mist. Take great caution when crossing the granite over to the falls. With the mist and water, the granite becomes very slick and slippery and could cause you to lose your footing which may cause great injury.
Once you reach the falls, you will be stunned. And the best part is, is not many people make their way to Hidden Falls because, alas, it is hidden! Whenever I have gone to this place, I usually have the whole place to myself for the majority of the time. There has been only one trip where I passed other people making their way to the falls after I was already heading back to the valley.
You are able to stand at the top of the falls depending on the fullness of water flow. In the spring, the water flow is bigger and more powerful, so always educate yourself on how to safely hike in this area. It's easy to slip and fall in these places so I highly recommend not to cross narrow, slippery passages to get to the top of the falls if you are not experienced. However, if it is safe to do so, I recommend standing at the top of the falls. It is exhilarating! Nonetheless, if you don't go to the top of the falls, get down to some of the base parts of the falls (if it is safe to do so - take into consideration water flow). The water is pretty freezing cold, due to all this coming from snowmelt; so, swimming (not completely - don't dive in!) is possible but you won't be in the water for long before you start shivering!
Check out some of the photos below!
The second part of those photos above are at another location mainly known by the locals which is an old abandoned road that hosts many beautiful vistas of El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls. Situated directly across from Bridal Veil, the spot is one that boasts of great sights especially during sunset. I tried to get some night photography at that spot, too; which I still need to work on! We were at the spot until late at night and headed back up for sunrise : ) . . . Definitely one of my favorite places!
All in all, these are two beautiful places in the valley that nearly NO ONE goes to when they visit Yosemite Valley! So again, I encourage you to go beyond the paved Valley Loop Trail on the valley floor and to get out and explore parts of Yosemite where there won't be hundreds of people next to you with their giant iPads taking photos from the parking lot. Get out there and see Yosemite for what it is!!