Trip Report – Glen Aulin July 2012

Total distance: 18.2 miles (In and out)
Elevation changes: +/- 2000 feet (approx.)
Entry Trailhead: Glen Aulin
Exit Trailhead: Glen Aulin
Date: 7-13-2012 to 7-14-2012

As the inaugural backpacking trip for Gracepoint Davis, this was an exciting day! Some of 2014 brothers, Pastor Will and I took off for Yosemite in the early hours. The weather forecast wasn’t great, and from a distance we could even see ominous cloud above the planned trail (Nelson Lake). But thanks to the Park rangers, we could switch our reservation to the Glen Aulin to Waterwheel Falls trail (apparently some groups dropped out due to bad weather forecast) in exchange for us picking up trash along the way. Of course!


Group picture by the stable on the same road as the Lembert Dome parking lot.


For the first mile or so the trail is in the same direction as Soda spring and Parsons Lodge.


The trail is well-marked and follows the Tuolumne river.


Now the direction sign says Waterwheel Falls, which was our destination.

Ng_20120713_yosebackpacking_1140031The trail is well maintained as it is the major trail to the Glen Aulin Sierra High camp.  We only had one trouble spot right after this granite.  We missed the stone steps to our right immediately after this portion, but that was not too bad and we quickly found the way.


After that granite steps, we crossed a bridge above the Tuolumne River and entered the White Cascades area.  As the name suggests, it is a series of small cascades that feed into the Tuolumne Valley…


Tuolumne Valley is the one on the left in this picture.


We followed the sign that took us to the High Sierra camp at Glen Aulin and it was first of the many big waterfalls we would be seeing that day.


Glen Aulin.


Here is a look down the valley we will be hiking in.  There are multiple cascades and also a few bigger waterfalls along the way.



I think it really is possible to get waterfall fatigue along this trail.. which is a good thing!


The trail is pretty much downhill from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, and the trail is well maintained.


After too may rest stops, we finally arrived at our destination Waterwheel Falls in about 7 hours.  The water was not at high level when we got there, but the “waterwheel” was nonetheless impressive.


We established our campsite on a slanted granite above Waterwheel Falls.  In retrospect there was too much of a slope to camp on and immediately to the right of this granite shelf, was a pre-established campsite.


A view from my tent.  You can see a smidge of the Waterwheel Falls.


The cooking area was about another 100 feet down the slope away from our campsites.  Here is a picture showing Lewis using the Sea to Summit foldable water bucket to carry water up from the river.


After a quick breakfast of couscous, we started the journey back… all the way uphill.  It really wasn’t too bad since we knew how far it was supposed to be, and we had all day to make it back.  We made good time and Pastor Will even had time to squeeze in some fly-fishing.  Here is a picture right around the time he caught one (that swam away).


In retrospect, we overpacked but I suppose that was excusable since we were expecting bad weather up at Nelson Lake.  This trip also taught us the valuable lesson of packing light.

Until next time!

Google cannot generate driving direction to the trailhead parking lot (the marked spot).  Click here to generate direction to the closest intersection where you need to make a right turn to the parking lot.


The GPS track can be downloaded here.

GA topo



3 thoughts on “Trip Report – Glen Aulin July 2012

  1. Karen says:

    Great trip, pictures, and post! Very helpful and informative. You’ve definitely inspired my group to try and do the same this year.

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