Wawona Swinging Bridge Trail

1.20 Miles
100 Feet
3stars (3.00)1
3stars (3.00)
4stars (4.00)
Fish Camp

Getting There

This trail is a bit off the beaten path and so takes a bit of an effort to find. From Wawona Road just north of the South Entrance to the park turn right onto Forest Drive just after Big Trees Lodge and drive through the town of Wawona. Don't expect signs pointing the way, just keep driving back. Near the end of road you'll appear to reach a dead end into a youth summer camp. Look closely to the left to see a path leading to the Wawona Swining Bridge Trail parking lot.

The Trail

The Wawona Swinging Bridge is a suspension bridge that bends rather than breaks. The plywood walking surface adds a nice touch too.
The Wawona Swinging Bridge is a suspension bridge that bends rather than breaks. The plywood walking surface adds a nice touch too.
The trail starts of wide and flat. It's just a short distance to the signature item on the trail, the Wawona Swinging Bridge. The bridge is not particularly picturesque nor grandiose. But it is nevertheless an actual swinging bridge, unlike another in the park that reportedly no longer has such free range of motion. The suspension bridge is wide enough for but a single passenger to traverse at a time.

The rocks on the opposite bank make a fine spot to have lunch while listening to the rollicking waters of the South Fork of the Merced River below.

The trail on the opposite bank is not the most scenic path you'll find in the park, but it might possibly be have the most solitude given that most visitors don't know the trail exists. It follows the path of the river, though removed from it, with the rising slope of the Wawona Dome to the right.

The trail ends abruptly when it runs into a dirt "road" servicing several houses on the edge of Wawona. Double back to return to the trailhead.

Opposite bank trail
The trail on the opposite bank is far from the most picturesque trail in the park, but we saw no one else on the trail here. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
River View
Looking down the South Fork of the Merced River from the Wawona Swinging Bridge. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Trail View
The path from the trailhead to the swinging bridge is wide, smooth and easy to traverse. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Opposite bank
A vie of the Wawona Swinging Bridge from the opposite bank. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Wawona Swinging Bridge
Coppertone approaches the Wawona Swinging Bridge. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Log Entries
The real swinging bridge
By Austin Explorer on 10/11/2018
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 2.38 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 14 minutes

We'd seen a sign in Yosemite Valley about a "swinging bridge" that we were told was inaccurate.  Turns out that bridge no longer swings.This one, though.  This one is the real deal.

Since we were in the area, having just finished our Marisposa Grove hike and the threat of rain seemed to be going away we decided to drive deeper into Wawona and look for this trail.  A large parking area was largely barren of cars and we would soon be the only people on the trail in short order,

The trail follows the South Fork of the Merced River, not to be confused with the North Fork that runs through Yosemite Valley.  After perhaps a half mile at most the famous bridge appeared.  It's not much to look at but it features two important characteristics.  First, it crosses the river and second it does indeed swing.

We stopped for lunch on the opposite bank and listed to water rushing downstream.  We saw one couple come to visit the bridge then turn back and then we really didn't see anyone else until we neared the trailhead on our way back later in the day.  Of all the trails we hiked all week in Yosemite, this one strangely felt more isolated than any of the others.

The trail continues in the direction of the trailhead but on this opposite bank and we decided to see how far it would go.  The terrain here is relatively flat and not terribly difficult. One has to admit that it's not the most picturesque part of the park.  There were numerous piles of logs and brush that were collected for a prescribed burn dotting the landscape and it's obvious there had already been some fire through part of the terrain in the past.

On this opposite shore the gnats, or whatever they were, were fairly annoying.  We strangely hadn't encountered them from the trailhead to the bridge.  The time of year one visits certainly factors into one's experience here.

The trail ended at a dirt road with a few houses, the edge of North Wawona.  We doubled from whence we came and headed back to our rental.

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