Hetch Hetchy Area

Key information: Hetch Hetchy Area

  • Various trails to stunning and less-visited place from this reservoir in the north-west of the National Park.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating89
  • Beauty36
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest2
  • Charisma36
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating89
  • Note: Negs: Some popularity.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: Also your choice
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.



This reservoir in the north-west of the National Park is a base for a number of trails to stunning and less-visited places.

The trail to the Rancheria Falls heads out up the cliffs overlooking the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, then continues on to the thrilling Rancheria Falls. 13+ miles return. Or you can head on out into the back country to Tilltill valley, Lake Vernon (33 miles return) and Pleasant Valley. Really gorgeous walking, out into superb remote landscape. 

There is an old track which switchbacks up the cliffs overlooking the reservoir. From the top, you head off to Beehive Meadows (14+ miles return). Or, again, onward to Laurel Lake and Lake Vernon (23 miles return).

A wonderful overnighter would be out to Lake Vernon and back, using the above trails to make a fantastic circuit.

From the top of the cliffs, you can also head off west to Miguel Meadows and onward. 

Smith Peak, with wonderful views and a remote setting, can be climbed in a long day from both Hetchy (more climb and steeper, 13.5 miles) and the Mather Ranger Station ( 17 miles, but gentler).

Access by car only – no buses. This makes linear routes harder to organise.

This can be tough walking in high, remote mountains with uncertain weather. Beware thunderstorms, get off high ground if one approaches. Beware bears in backcountry. Come fully prepared.

See our Yosemite page for more general and practical information and photos.

We want to tell more - please send us your suggestions, experiences and photos.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.


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