If you’re looking to experience a Yosemite waterfall off the beaten path, Carlon Falls is for you. Situated just outside of park gates, you can hike into the Yosemite wilderness and never pay any entrance fees. This isn’t the biggest, or even the most impressive. If you just like chasing waterfalls, you’ll like Carlon Falls.
The trailhead begins off of Evergreen Road, on the way to Hetch Hetchy, with a sign that shows Carlon Falls. There’s a tiny pull out for parking. If that’s full, you can try your luck at the picnic areas where there is more parking.
The trail is an easy 1.8 miles following the South Fork of the Tuolumne River out to Carlon Falls. It’s mostly flat with no more than 200 feet of elevation gain, most of it all in one tiny section.
Once you reach the river and the tiny falls, the trail up to the actual waterfall may vary depending on water levels. There is a little use trail that will take you over to the top, avoiding any rock scrambling.
In the summer this is a popular swimming hole once the roar of snowmelt water is gone. On a rainy, fall day, I was only accompanied by one other party on the trail. Carlon Falls is a great stop on the way home on 120.