lewis creek trail to red rock falls
lewis creek trail to red rock falls
Distance: 3.2 miles roundtrip (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 308 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. Red Rock Falls is a 20 foot powerhouse waterfall that has a wide cascade. Located at the north end of the trail, you will walk through dense forest of evergreens and dogwoods along Lewis Creek to get to the top of the waterfall. You also have the opportunity to make the short hike down to the bottom and enjoy a picnic at the base.
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:
This is a worthwhile hike because you can see both Red Rock and Corlieu Falls in a short trip. The start of this hike requires you to walk across a large log over a very shallow creek, since the original bridge was washed out. There is a small rope line that you can use to balance, but for those scared of falling into the creek, this will be the hardest part.
The trail is marked with different colored flagging tapes, but I would recommend bringing a roll of flagging tape (commonly found at Home Depot or Lowes) to mark certain parts of the trail for yourself to help you find your way back. You can easily miss the turn that gets you back to the large log you crossed over in the beginning because it is possible to walk the entire trail to the south trailhead without crossing the log. DON’T do this because you are starting from the middle trailhead. The flagging tape you bring can be put on the turn spot to help you see where to turn. Do not leave your flagging tape. Please be sure to remove and pack out all tape you put up.