Chilnualna Creek tumbles around 2200ft over the north shoulder of forested Wawona Dome in an almost continuous series of cascades. The largest and most impressive of these, Chilnualna Falls thunders into a deep, narrow chasm. Unlike its valley counterparts, this fall is not free leaping, but its soothing, white-water rush makes it an attractive day hike without lots of company. Carry plenty of water or a filter, as the route can be hot. The top is a nice picnic spot.
Like all Yosemite waterfalls, Chilnualna Falls is best between April and June when streams are at their fullest. July and August are often too hot for an afternoon hike, and by September the fall is limited by low water.
The Chilnualna Falls Trailhead is at the eastern end of Chilnualna Falls Rd. Follow Hwy 41 (Wawona Rd) a quarter-mile north of the Big Trees Lodge and Pioneer Gift & Grocery, and take a right just over the bridge on Chilnualna Falls Rd; follow it for 1.7 miles. The parking area with pit toilets is on the right, and the trailhead is marked.
The hike is 8.6 miles round-trip and takes four to five hours (not counting relaxation time at the top).