Wildcat Falls

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

About Wildcat Falls

Hiking Distance: 1/2 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2002-05-30
Date last visited: 2005-04-29

Waterfall Latitude: 37.72361
Waterfall Longitude: -119.71647

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Wildcat Falls was definitely one of the more obscure waterfalls we’ve found in the park.

The funny thing was that most people driving along the El Portal Road zoom past this waterfall without even knowing it was there!

Not only that, but it was practically the next door neighbor to the semi-famous Cascade Falls.

If we could provide a reason for this waterfall’s obscurity, we’d have to say that vegetation concealed it from all but the most observant drivers along Highway 140.

Wildcat_Falls_007_04292005 - The base of Wildcat Falls
The base of Wildcat Falls

Moreover, there didn’t appear to be infrastructure recognizing it nor even alerting park visitors to check it out.

Indeed, this had the feeling more like it was one for the waterfall collectors like us. So with its lack of notoriety, we were able to enjoy the waterfall by ourselves (aside from the mosquitoes).

Finding Wildcat Falls

To access the base of this waterfall, we started from the car park for Cascade Falls, then we had to walk about 1/4-mile along Route 140 on the north side of the road until we reached Wildcat Creek.

That was when we spotted a trail of use that led through the vegetation and right towards the attractive base of the falls.

Before entering the vegetation, we were also able to see some of the upper sections of the waterfall by looking up towards the top end of the cliff looming over us.

Another way we were able to see the uppermost tiers of Wildcat Falls was from Turtleback Dome.

The details about this viewpoint could be found in the Cascade Falls page.


Wildcat Falls resides in Yosemite National Park. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the National Park Service website.

Wildcat_Falls_002_05302002 - The upper section of Wildcat Falls as seen in June 2002
Turtleback_Dome_007_03192004 - The upper section of Wildcat Falls seen from Turtleback Dome in March 2004
Cascades_009_04292005 - The upper section of Wildcat Falls seen from Turtleback Dome in April 2005
Wildcat_Falls_001_scanned_05302002 - The base of Wildcat Falls in June 2002

You basically use the car park for Cascade Falls to access this waterfall. As you drive Route 140 between the Arch Rock Entrance and the Route 140/120 junction, look for signpost M1 about 1.7 miles west of the Route 140/120 junction.

As mentioned earlier, in order to get the Turtleback Dome perspective, read the Cascade Falls page.

For a little context, Wildcat Falls is about 15 minutes drive east of El Portal, which itself is about 45 minutes east of Mariposa. Mariposa is about 3 hours drive east of San Francisco.

From the south (the route we tend to prefer since we’re coming from Los Angeles), we drive for about 3.5 hours to Fresno, then continue onto the South Entrance of Yosemite via Oakhurst before entering Yosemite Valley. We’d then head west out of the valley towards the Cascades Picnic Area. This drive would take us over 6 hours.

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Tagged with: oakhurst, el portal, mariposa, yosemite, merced, turtleback dome, wawona, tunnel, arch rock, big oak flat, california, waterfall, sierra

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Wildcat Falls March 17, 2023 5:25 pm by Philipp Merillat - Wildcat Falls can be seen on your east entrance to the valley of Yosemite. You might not notice them as there was no marker or pulloff for parking at the time. ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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