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Hiking up to Alder Creek Falls

Those colorful harlequin lupines can put on quite the display on this trail but what would they look like this year? We were definitely looking forward to seeing how much water was coming over Alder Creek Falls and the many other wildflowers along this trail.

Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 13.36 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 4,028′ – 5,845′
Date: May 17, 2016
Maps: El Capitan Topog

We headed to Wawona, turning right on Chilnualna Falls Road, then drove about a ½ mile where we parked in the small turnout on the right hand side with a bear box. The trail begins on the opposite side of the road and is clearly signed.


We hadn’t headed too far up the trail when we reached an area that always has many harlequin lupine, but not this year. There were a few purple lupine and some very small harlequin lupine but nothing like the show that we have been treated to in prior years.

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There were also a few other flowers along the trail. We spotted larkspur, pretty face, paintbrush, dogwoods, snow plants and monkey flowers, just to name a few.

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Just shy of 3 miles we reached the split in the trail that comes up from Hwy 41. We stayed to the right.

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We couldn’t help but notice how nice the trail looked. Recent work clearing the down trees made our hiking much easier.  What a surprise when we caught up with part of the trail crew. We found out that they are a Civilian conservation Crew (CCC) from Greenwood, near the Auburn area. We thanked them for their hard work and talked them into taking a short break to pose for a picture.


CCC Trail Crew

The snow plants were very healthy along the trail. They almost glimmered in the sunlight.

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We reached Alder Creek Falls, which drops 120 feet over the edge into a pool. Very pretty!


Alder Creek Falls

We headed above the falls to check out the skunk cabbage a little higher. Ok, that is what I have always called it but most folks around here call it corn lily. The corn lily is one of the most poisonous plants in Yosemite and has caused violent illness to those who have eaten it. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but especially the roots. Corn lily is poisonous to animals as well, but as a rule they do not eat it because of its sharp, burning taste. The flowers are also poisonous to insects and heavy losses in honeybees sometimes occur. It is a beautiful plant to look at and take pictures of but not to consume.

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We decided to mosey back to an old camping area along the creek for out lunch. It was a nice lunch spot with reflections of the trees in slow moving water.


We headed back down the trail, noticing that the Chinese gooseberry were really blooming.

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When we reached that area that usually has many harlequin lupine, I wanted to check it out a little bit more.

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As we almost reached the end of our hike, we were surprised to see butterflies, bumble bees and lady bugs hanging out with the blooms. Those butterflies were hard to get a picture of but the bumble bees and lady bugs cooperated!

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Topog and Profile

Alder Creek Falls TopogAlder Creek Falls Profile

Prior Blogs in this Area:

Alder Creek Falls Hike 2015 May 22, 2015

Alder Creek Falls Hike May 25, 2014

Alder Creek Falls (And Beyond) Hike May 9, 2013

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