Backpacking to Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite!

Details: Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite

Trail Head At: Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Rancheria Falls Trailhead

Length:  20 Miles (f**k me)

Elevation Gain: 2100 Feet

Okay guys, this hike was unbelievably beautiful. In fact, the more I think about it, (and the more time I have had to recover) the more impressed I am with the landscape. It was full of cascading waterfalls, lush alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, those sharp granite cliffs Yosemite is famous for and epic views of the glittering reservoir.

A little background about Hetch Hetchy – this area is part of Yosemite, north of Yosemite Valley. So, it boasts less crowds then the valley, a quicker drive from the Bay Area and the same gob smackingly beautiful scenery.

Wildflowers - Hetch Hetchy Hiking Trail Yosemite

This trail is quite dreamy. You spend about seven miles of the hike winding along the gorgeous, sprawling, reservoir. We noticed almost non stop evidence of bears, but unfortunately did not have any sightings this trip.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite
Hetch Hetchy reservoir is a dream

It was also an absolute bitch. We hiked 20 miles total in two days, with plenty of steep switch backs, mosquitoes and very little shade. The last day was definitely the most difficult.  At one point in the hike, on our return trip home, I really thought we might just die there on the trail.

Hetch Hetchy reservoir, Yosemite

Waterfall number 1, Hetchy Hetchy Yosemite
Waterfall # 1!

We took a break at Rancheria Falls for lunch and it was the most epic lunch spot, with the waterfalls cascading down the silvery granite rocks to the green pools below.

Rancheria Falls - our lunch break view!
Rancheria Falls – our lunch break view!

The first campsites are located in the forest near Rancheria Falls, so you could end your hike there but we decided to trek on to the Tiltill Valley, because Brad had camped there on a previous trip and said it was pretty spectacular.

Lily Pond Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite
Views on the way to the valley. Getting close to the meadow!

So, there were two difficult parts to this hike:

  • THE SWITCHBACKS
  • THE BOG

After about a mile plus of steep switchbacks, we arrived at the Tiltill Valley  (yesssss). Then had about a mile left to go through straight up bog. I’m talking balancing on rocks and water submerged logs, Brad on one end, me on the other, as we tried to avoid falling in the sludgy, muddy, foot deep water. Bugs were swarming in clouds, mosquitoes were biting and I had to hardcore compartmentalize because if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I am terrified of snakes, and it was 100% Snake City. I did see one slithering away into the high grass, but just for a moment. (Insert mind exploding).

But, after we had had slogged through, we were rewarded with this magnificent, beckoning, view.

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Tiltill Valley – We made it to the meadow!

And Look at Our Campsite:

Our campsite - Tiltilly Valley, Yosemite
No biggie, just our campsite at the edge of the MEADOW
Our campfire and chairs, Tiltill Valley Yosemite
View from our campfire complete with chairs 🙂
River Tiltill Valley, Yosemite
River right next to our campsite

This was very convenient for getting water. Brad even went for a swim! Per usual, I need the weather to be a little warmer for submerging in that frigid water. I love hearing the rushing water as we fell asleep in our tent.

Brad hanging by the river, Tiltill Valley, Yosemite
Brad, chilling by the river
Tiltill Valley - Yosemite
Our meadow 😀 We earned this view !

We loved falling asleep to the sounds of  an owl hooting in the tree, as the glittering stars filled the ink black sky.

The Trip Back:

We woke up pretty early, sipped our steaming coffee and ate our breakfast bars while watching deer graze in the meadow. We packed up our campsite, squared our shoulders and set off for the bog.

Wildflowers, Hetch Hetchy Hiking Trails

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When we finally finished the hike we got home around 8pm, and collapsed on the couch with a Trader Joe’s pesto veggie pizza and wine. We, (well I) was sunburned to the nines, covered in bites, and parts of me hurt that I didn’t even know existed, but we made it! And it really was an epically gorgeous hike. Next time, I would recommend planning three days for this trip, so that you have a day in between to enjoy the surrounding, relax and recover before the 10 mile trek back. Also – bring Deet. Ours hadn’t arrived yet from Amazon, and we figured we could make it. MISTAKE.

Next up on the hiking blog: Three days at Velma Lakes in Desolation Wilderness Tahoe!

2 thoughts on “Backpacking to Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite!

  1. Enjoyed your shots and your blog. What a beautiful area. Liked your new granite camp chairs. They go well with the matching fire place. Hope you have recuperated from the sore muscles, mosquitos and sunburn.great shots show the beauty and make it worth. Bea Sent from my iPhone

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