lewis creek trail to Corlieu falls
lewis creek trail to corlieu falls
Distance: 0.62 miles roundtrip (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 201 feet
Seasonality: Falls are strongest in springtime, but hike can be done year round.
Trailhead: Lewis Creek trailhead located on the side of Hwy 41, approximately 7.5 miles north of the intersection of highways 41 and 49 in Oakhurst.
Parking: Turnout on the side of Hwy 41 that holds approximately a dozen cars.
Facilities: No restrooms or potable water.
The Lewis Creek Trail just seven miles south of the Yosemite National Park entrance is one of the hidden hikes that you drive by without even knowing it. The Lewis Creek Trail offers views of two spectacular waterfalls that bookend this trail - Red Rock Falls and Corlieu Falls. Located on the southern end of the trail, Corlieu Falls is a 80 foot waterfall that pours down in a series of cascades that can be viewed by a National Forest Service viewing platform that was built in 2010. While it is a short steep hike down to see the falls, it is very doable and there are places to step off the path and take a short breather. Once on the viewing platform, you can sit down on one of the many benches and listen to the water rushing down the falls.
Trip Planner Details:
To get to the Lewis Creek Trailhead, you drive Hwy 41 like you would to Yosemite. This hike is approximately 4 miles north of Oakhurst and 7.5 miles south of the Yosemite National Park entrance. There is a dirt turnout where you can park, but the area is limited and holds approximately a dozen cars. There is a sign marking the Lewis Creek Trail, but you can easily miss it if you aren’t paying attention. Be sure to take a look at the Google Map and print those directions.
There are no facilities near this hike, so use the restroom and fill up your water bottles somewhere in Oakhurst. To check for forest alerts, visit the Sierra National Forest website.
When You Do Your Research:
There is not a lot of information out there about this hike because it is mostly unknown to the general public. There are three trailheads that various websites and search engines list, but for the most convenient way to view this waterfall, you will want to park at the Lewis Creek Trailhead off of Hwy 41 as described above. This is in the middle of the two other trailheads described next, and it allows you to see both Red Rock Falls and Corlieu Falls in the most efficient way.
To the north, you can also use the Lewis Creek National Recreation Trailhead in Sugar Pine. By using this trailhead, your roundtrip total would be approximately 1 mile of hiking with less than 100 feet elevation gain, but miss the opportunity to visit Corlieu Falls.
To the south, you can also use the Lewis Creek Trailhead off of Cedar Valley Drive in Oakhurst. By using this trailhead, your roundtrip total is much longer, at 5.5 miles of hiking with 800 feet elevation gain. You will pass by Corlieu Falls on your way to Red Rock Falls.
Tips From One Who Hiked It:
Don’t make the mistake of following the old trail (pre-2010) down to the base of Corlieu Falls unless you have solid grip shoes and are comfortable with rock scrambling. This route will lead you down to the base of the falls which affords some nice photo opportunities, but you should not attempt if you are not physically fit and able to rock scramble. The Forest Service has redirected the trail and has built the viewing platform for Corlieu Falls which is where you will end up by following the map. It does get a little unclear of where to go once you start hearing the falls, but to find the viewing platform, you will come to an outcropping where you hear the falls, at that point turn and head in the direction towards Hwy 41 and you’ll see the cleared trail.