Granite Gorge Photos + Preston Falls (Tuolomne River)

In truth, I don’t think many non-locals know about this riverside destination. Well, I finally made the journey to check it out – here are some Granite Gorge photos that show how incredible this little hideaway really is. (Nevermind the fact that getting here might just be your worst nightmare!)

The Tuolumne River, flowing strong - Granite Gorge photos
“The Granite Gorge” flowing strong

My curiosity was peaked when I heard “Granite Gorge” chatter here and there at my local watering holes. After getting directions, I set out from Evergreen Lodge, past camp Mather, and onto Cherry Lake Road, which led me winding down into the Tuolumne River canyon.

The Hike

Huge, scenic boulders along the trail
Huge, scenic boulders along the trail

It was quite late in the afternoon when I started this 2+ mile hike. Right as I entered the trail, I found a large rattlesnake stretched directly across my path, basking in the sun. Those photos were all taken here (later on there was also a baby rattlesnake that I spotted on the road, just as I was driving away).

Clearly this is a popular hangout for these beautiful, but venomous creatures. As a matter of fact, I have only seen a wild rattlesnake one other time in my life, and it was further down in this very same canyon!

Tuolumne River Canyon late afternoon scenery - Granite Gorge photos
Gorge-ous view of the river below (pun intended)

In any case, just keep an eye out and they will leave you alone. These sightings were a thrill for the reptile-lover in me, but I know not every hiker feels the same. That was trail hazard number one. Number two I was NOT so thrilled about.

Grasses & Wildflowers on the Trail
Grasses & Wildflowers on the Trail

I was told that there was a lot of poison oak on this trail, but that you could avoid it if you were careful. I’m not sure I agree. It is virtually impossible to continue all the way to the gorge without touching some poison oak. Just be warned.

I’m quite sensitive to it, so I did my best to avoid the plant, then carefully remove and wash my clothes when I arrived home. Of course, a good shower & scrub was in order as well.

Whitewater through the rock canyon - Granite Gorge photos
Whitewater through the rock canyon

Well enough of the cons…let’s get to the pros! I loved the scenery on this hike. It really is a particularly beautiful stretch of the Tuolumne River.

The Swimming Hole – Granite Gorge Photos

Tuolumne River pool with swift current
Swimming is best left for another time

However, as you can see…this was not the ideal time for a swim. The snowmelt miles upriver left this canyon swollen and flooded. Still incredibly photogenic, though. When the river calms down, I bet the cool water is a much appreciated ending to the hot summer hike on the way in.

Backcountry Camping

Teenage campers built a fire on the rock surface
Campers built a fire on the rock surface

It was a weekend, and interesting to see all the (local, I assume) groups that made the trek out here. They were all setting up camp, so I suppose this is a relatively popular backcountry site. The teens in the pic above were gathering firewood. Looked like they were gearing up for a great time taht night.

Wildlife & Precautions

Common garter snake closeup on trail
Common garter snake on trail

As mentioned before, in the late summer afternoons at least, you may encounter rattlesnakes. The pic above is just a friendly garter snake I spotted on the trail. So apparently there are a lot of snakes in general. Haha.

Poison oak is seriously rampant in this location, so if you consider it to be a terrible plague, hopefully these pics are enough to satisfy your curiosity and you can cross the Granite Gorge off your list.

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.