Hetch Hetchy is on the Tuolumne River, often referred to as a "wonderfully exact counterpart of Yosemite National Park." When the ice glaciers carved out Yosemite Valley, they carved out several other valleys in the high sierras. One of those valleys is often referred to as "Yosemite's twin." That twin is this place and some call it Yosemite's lost valley.
I had visited Yosemite National Park regularly for 40 years before I ever made it over to Hetch Hetchy. I'm sorry that I waited so long! I will tell you, this area doesn't have the crowds that Yosemite Valley has and it has hiking trails that are just as good :)
This valley was discovered in 1850 and called "Hatchatchie". This was an Indian word for an edible grass. The name was later changed.
The granite walls here are 2,000 feet high. The reservoir is about 3 miles long and is a quarter to three quarters of a mile wide. But the beautiful valley is hidden underneath 300 feet of water :(
In 1906, San Francisco experienced a horrible earthquake. For years, San Francisco was looking for a body of water to harness for its power and energy.
The earthquake caused many fires and therefore moved to the topic of needing a water source to draw from, to the top of the political list.
I had blue skies, blue water and no crowds. Perfect day :)
My family and I loved this beautiful tree...it could hold all of us :)
The city of San Francisco wanted this valleys water supply and John Muir and the Sierra Club fought endlessly for five years to stop them. One year after John Muir died, San Francisco won the rights to build a dam.
In 1914 thousands of trees were cut down and granite mountains had holes blasted through them. They dammed up the water and built the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The dam was completed by 1923 and expanded again in 1938.
85% of San Francisco's drinking water comes from Hetch Hetchy. And the water here goes to meet the needs of 2.6 million people in San Francisco, California.
My kids loved learning about this place
We enjoyed looking over the edge of the dam
They call the dam the O'Shaughnessy Dam. The dam creates a lake and under the lake is a valley as beautiful and Yosemite Valley.
Now, millions of dollars need to be poured in to make repairs...and the Sierra Club is trying to have the dam removed and the valley and meadows restored to be enjoyed by tourist since Yosemite Valley is so overcrowded. It would be a good thing to restore Yosemite's twin valley since San Francisco now has other choices to meet their water and power sources.
Video Part 2
Let me tell you about a great Yosemite hike that is here. I encourage you to hike to Wapama Falls. It is a 5 mile round trip. I would call this an easy to moderate hike. Start at the O'Shaughnessy Dam Parking lot. The best time to go is April To June.
The trail-head begins one mile west of the Big Oak Flat Entrance to Yosemite National Park on Highway 120. Go right (north) on Evergreen Road and drive 7 miles. Go right at Camp Mather onto Hetch Hetchy Road. Go through the entrance station and continue on for another 8 miles. The road will end at O'Shaughnessy Dam parking lot.
This places gives you the Yosemite waterfall scenery without the crowds. The crowds of visitors just do know know about this beautiful valley and its waterfalls. Every time we have been here, we feel like we have this place completely to ourselves.
We saw a lot of poison oak along the trail, so be careful. Keep your eyes open for rattlesnakes too. It is 2.5 miles to the top of Wapama Falls.