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California Trails

Yosemite Falls Loop

See the tallest waterfall in the United States up close in this short and easy loop hike in Yosemite Valley.

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Notes for Kris
I did this hike in winter, but added a few spring shots too. The only time this hike should be skipped is late summer or early fall. Not much happening during that time. Best time is mid spring.

This is a very easy trail on a paved path. Yes this trail can be crowded, but it is because it is so accessible. With a vertical drop of 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America.

I’ve seen lots of deer on just about every trip I’ve done here. On my last visit to this trail in March, I came across more than a dozen deer laying under the trees. I was able to get within a few feet to photograph them, unfortunately, they were too much in the shadow to get anything decent. There are also a number of bears in the area. Although I haven’t seen one at that location, I always seem to have just missed a sighting by an hour or so.

The vegetation in the area was mostly pines and oaks. In reality, I didn’t pay enough attention to the trees as I was focusing on the destination.


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 1.8



Location: 38.9860877990723, -77.250732421875

At end of Swamp Trail turn R @ Y and hike up hill.


Location: 38.9818916320801, -77.2500991821289

L @ T onto the Ridge Trail


Location: 38.9816131591797, -77.2488555908203

At the bottom of depression, turn R onto small trail marked by a single split rail post. At end of trail, cross over Georgetown Pike. Careful here – fast moving traffic on road! Return to parking area.

Difficult Run Parking Lot

Location: 38.9782867431641, -77.2490310668945

View of Difficult Run Trail parking lot

Georgetown Pike

Location: 38.976016998291, -77.2462844848633

Difficult Run Trail passes under Georgetown Pike

Difficult Run Trail Split

Location: 38.9759559631348, -77.2371444702148

Fork in trail…go straight for the scenic view of Difficult Run flowing into the Potomac River.

Difficult Run and Potomac River

Location: 38.9763946533203, -77.2351837158203

Difficult Run empties into the Potomac River

River Trail Entrance

Location: 38.9808235168457, -77.2426910400391

Entrance to River Trail from Ridge Trail

Potomac Overlook

Location: 38.9818954467773, -77.2430267333984

Scenic overlook of Potomac

River Trail Road Crossing

Location: 38.9842414855957, -77.2459106445312

River Trail after road crossing


Location: 38.9855194091797, -77.2462463378906

View of Potamac up river from overlook on River Trail

Patowmack Canal Ruins

Location: 38.9894065856934, -77.248664855957

Patowmack Canal Ruins

Large Wooden Footbridge

Location: 38.9915542602539, -77.2489318847656

Large wooden footbridge on River Trail

Great Falls, VA

Location: 38.9951400756836, -77.2529754638672

View of Great Falls from scenic overlook

Great Falls Park

Location: 38.9928703308106, -77.2529144287109

Left towards the Old Carriage Rd.

Swamp Trail

Location: 38.9861183166504, -77.2507095336914

View of Swamp Trail


Location: 38.9906158447266, -77.2537231445312

R onto Swamp Trail


Location: 38.9928741455078, -77.2529067993164

Pass bathrooms and turn R at Y onto the Old Carriage Road.


Location: 38.9951171875, -77.2529907226562

Great Falls Park picnic area. Stay R and pass 2 scenic overlook of waterfalls. Just pass sccond overlook, cross the footbridge turning L back through picnic area. Stay R, then at Y bear L towards bathrooms.


Location: 38.9915504455566, -77.2489776611328

Cross large wooden foot bridge


Location: 38.9893493652344, -77.2486114501953

Patowmack Canal ruins – R @ foot bridge and continue following blue blazed River Trail


Location: 38.9854011535644, -77.2461853027344

Scenic overlook up river and of Maryland on R


Location: 38.9841690063477, -77.2458267211914

Road Crossing – follow River Trail slightly to the R


Location: 38.9818382263184, -77.2429885864258

Scenic Overlook of Potomac on R


Location: 38.980785369873, -77.2426071166992

R @ T going downhill onto the blue blazed River Trail as it steeply descends towards the Potomac River.


Location: 38.976203918457, -77.2362594604492

L @ T to follow the Ridge Trail.


Location: 38.9758949279785, -77.2370071411133

R @ Y onto the Ridge Trail to the top of the hill.


Location: 38.9762077331543, -77.2351303100586

Difficult Run empties into the Potomac River. Beautiful view of Potomac River. Turn around and go back up hill to the Y.


Location: 38.975887298584, -77.2370223999024

Bear R @ Y and continue downhill. The trail gets rocky as it descends downhill.


Location: 38.9760055541992, -77.246223449707

Pass under Georgetown Pike. The trail will wider as it continues along Difficult Run


Location: 38.9782867431641, -77.2488708496094

Difficult Run Trail Parking Area on Georgetown Pike – From end of parking lot, follow trail as it follows the run bank.

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