Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Gone Hiking 2023 Hetch Hetchy Day 1: O'Shaughnessy Dam To Rancheria Falls

Mileage:  6.76 miles/10.87 km

Elevation Gain:  1,332 ft/406 m

The start of our hike at Hetch Hetchy took us down from the overnight camping park lot across the O'Shaugnessy Dam.  This rises 430 ft above the floor of the Canyon.  It has been years since I have walked across a dam; looking down at the base of the dam and the force of the water coming out gave some perspective both of the power of the water as well as how "high" up we actually were on the hike.

Emerging from the tunnel that you can see on the far edge of the dam, we began our trek along the reservoir's edge.  The trail at this part was fairly level.  The temperature was in the mid-70's as we wandered up, passing by day high hikers going as far as Wapama Falls or even Rancheria Falls, where we would spend the night.

The trail began to rise away from the reservoir.  As one might expect, the rock here is largely various types of granite.  The views remained spectacular.

We were fortunate in that this has been a very wet year in California, so there was an abundance of water which fueled the waterfalls which the higher parts of the Sierra can be known for.  This is Tueeulala Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the U.S.:

But even small, nameless falls contributed their own music:

The Kolana Rock:

Continuing along the trail, we came to Wapama Falls, a year round (or almost year round fall) that drops 1,100 feet. We had brought our rain gear in anticipation that we would either get terribly wet or that the bridge might even be impassable (it is, occasionally).  We were fortunate:  although definitely misted, there was no need to get our pack covers and raincoats out.

It was at this point that we lost many of the day hikers and continued on in more isolated circumstances, making a relatively gentle slope ever higher:

About 5 PM we reached Rancheria Campground, below Rancheria Falls:

After an after-hike cocktail (Note:  Bloody Mary can mix is better than Bloody Mary powdered mix),

We headed to the nearby outflow from Rancheria Falls to get water:

We made a fire and watched the evening happen:


  1. Anonymous2:09 AM

    Thank You - some spectacular scenery taken from your photographs.

    1. You are welcome! It is always a joy to share them.

  2. Nylon122:58 AM

    Excellent visuals TB, nice to hear the sounds of water flowing instead of traffic and/or sirens. Of course blue sky helps a bunch also....... :)

    1. Nylon12, one unusual thing about this hike is that we had the sound of water often in the background and both nights that we camped. I have come to enjoy it immensely.

  3. Filthie12:05 PM

    Yeah that’s awesome, TB. You need to do some overnighters and poast camp pics too. I miss hiking…

    1. Glen, it is always a bit of struggle in that to do the overnighters, I have to get back to Old Home where The Outdoorsman is. That said, this has all the makings of a find retirement hobby.


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