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Trip Ideas

Carlon FallsRainbow PoolsMiddle Fork of the Tuolumne RiverHetch HetchySnowshoesFor help figuring out the best use of time for your party, our knowledgeable and friendly Recreation Department is here for you.  Whether you want to sign up for a professionally guided excursion or just want some help planning your own adventure, we invite you to call 209-379-2606, email [email protected] or stop by the Recreation Desk so we can take care of you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Carlon Falls

This is a great hike along the South Fork of the TuolumneRiver to a gorgeous 20-foot waterfall.  It is about 1.5 miles each way and climbs 300 feet as you near the falls.  Small sandy beaches, great for picnics, can be found along the way; the falls also make for an enjoyable picnic and relaxation spot. Carlon was recently featured by Travel & Leisure Magazine as one of America’s best swimming holes.

At the front of the lodge turn right and drive six miles towards Hwy 120.  Park on the left just before the second bridge. There is not a marked trailhead, but you will see a clear path over a log and a ‘no camping’ sign.  The trail climbs along the left side of the river. For the Day Use areas that do not require hiking, park just after the bridge on the left or right.  There are picnic tables by the river.

Rainbow Pools

This day use site, originally a toll stop in the stagecoach days and later a resort, is now a popular swimming and picnic area.  Rainbow Pools is a series of natural swimming holes along the South Fork of the TuolumneRiver where you can dip your feet, take a plunge or just watch courageous kids jump from the rock lined ledges into the largest of the inviting pools.  To get there, take a right as you leave the Evergreen and drive 7 miles to Hwy 120.  Take a right and drive 7 more miles to the big bridge just past signs for Cherry Lake Road.  Slow down on the bridge and take an immediate left at the end of it to enter the parking area.

Middle Fork Day Use Area of the Tuolumne

If your time is limited, consider heading to the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne.  Here you can splash around in gorgeous granite pools and enjoy the shade of the pines for a quick nap or a picnic overlooking the river.  Drive 1.5 miles on Evergreen Road towards Hwy 120 to the first bridge.

Friendly reminder to play it safe – wet granite is very slippery so please walk carefully.

Hetch Hetchy

The Hetch Hetchy area is a lesser-traveled part of Yosemite that provides pleasant hiking, warm weather at low elevations, and some of the finest spring wildflower displays in the park. Most Yosemite visitors do not know Hetch Hetchy exists, which explains why fewer than 100 visitors a day pass through the entrance. Hetch Hetchy also provides great fishing for Rainbow and Brook trout. Please be aware that swimming and boating are not allowed in the reservoir in order to preserve water quality. Visit our Hetch Hetchy pages for more detailed information.

Hetch Hetchy – Wapama Falls

This 5-mile roundtrip hike makes gradual climbs and descents along the reservoir as it winds its’ way to Wapama Falls. One mile from the start you’ll find the Lake Vernon trail junction; those wishing more of a workout can turn left and begin a serious climb to the granite slabs above and a view of the reservoir and the high country peaks. For a less strenuous walk to Wapama Falls, continue straight, passing Tueeulala Falls where you may get your feet wet in the spring season.

From Evergreen, turn left on Evergreen Road and then turn right at the stop sign at Camp Mather, continuing through the entrance station and driving 8 miles to the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Park and cross the dam where the trail will begin on the far side of the dam.

Winter Snowshoeing – Merced Grove

On your way to Yosemite Valley, Merced Grove is the most intimate Grove of Giant Sequoias.  The trailhead is located 4 miles into the Park after you enter the gate on highway 120.  The first half mile is flat, then a sign leads you to the left down a mile long, 400 foot descent into the grove where you will find 20 of the largest trees on earth. If you don’t own a pair of snowshoes you can rent them from us for a small fee.


Evergreen Lodge is blessed with a convenient location for enjoying all of Yosemite National Park and the surrounding Stanislaus National Forest. The lodge sits one mile from Yosemite’s western border and the entrance to Hetch Hetchy and is surrounded on all sides by the Stanislaus National Forest. Evergreen’s location is along the most direct route to Yosemite from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Evergreen Lodge is the most conveniently located of all Yosemite lodging for access to all three major parts of the Park:  Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Hetch Hetchy.

Area Highlights

Surrounding Evergreen Lodge are forest, meadows, rivers, swimming holes, fire roads, vistas and neighboring Camp Mather (day-use fee access during the summer months), with its spring fed-lake and miles of trails. Within a 20-minute walk from Evergreen are Birch Lake, Sunset Point, Doughters Meadow and the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne River.

The Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite is one mile from the lodge, and the Big Oak Flat Park Entrance is seven miles away. Listed below are drive times from the lodge to favorite nearby places in Yosemite and the National Forest.

Minutes Drive from Lodge Location Highlights
10 Carlon Falls 1.5 mile hike to waterfall
10 Hetch Hetchy Vista Great view of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
20 Hetch Hetchy Reservoir Trails, history, waterfalls & fishing
15 Preston Falls Trailhead Hike along Tuolumne River
25 Merced Grove Trailhead One mile hike to Giant Sequoias
30 Rainbow Pools Popular & beautiful swimming spot
45 Yosemite Valley Trails, waterfalls & massive granite
45 Tunnel View Best view of Yosemite Valley
75 Olmstead Point View of Half Dome & Tenaya Lake
90 Cathedral Lake Trailhead 7-8 mile round trip hike to a gorgeous lake
90 Tuolumne Meadows Heart of Yosemite’s dramatic High Country
120 Mariposa Grove World’s largest trees

Yosemite Facts

Yosemite National Park encompasses a spectacular tract of mountain and valley landscape in the Sierra Nevada. The park harbors a grand collection of waterfalls, meadows, and forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world’s largest living things.

  • Yosemite is the nation’s third oldest national park and is a “Crown Jewel” of the National Park System
  • Encompassing 1,170 square miles, Yosemite occupies an area the size of the state of Rhode Island
  • The first tourists visited Yosemite in 1855.  It became a national park thirty-five years later in 1890
  • The Park is open 365 days/year, 24 hours/day
  • The Park averages nearly 3.5 million visitors per year:  about 2.8 million of those guests visit during the high season of April to October
  • The Park is home to 37 species of native trees including the Giant Sequoia, considered the largest living thing on earth. Sequoias can live from 1,000 – 3,000 years.  Three groves totaling 700 trees are located in the Park (Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Grove, Merced Grove)
  • Five of the Yosemite Valley’s waterfalls are among the ten highest waterfalls on earth.  Yosemite Falls, where Yosemite Creek falls a total of 2,425 feet in two separate steps, is the highest waterfall in North America and the second highest in the world
  • Yosemite’s geological history has been evolving for 500 million years from an ocean floor to gentle, rolling hills to the formation of the steep Sierra Nevada mountain range with deep river canyons
  • Yosemite’s first inhabitants were Native Americans who inhabited the region 10,000 years ago.  The Gold Rush brought the first non-native settlers to the area around 1850
  • The word “Yosemite” is derived from a Southern Miwok Indian word for “some among them are killers,” referring to the Mariposa Battalion who first entered the Valley in search of Yosemite Indians
  • Yosemite was the first territory ever set aside by congress for public use and preservation.  This was done in 1864 by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War