A hiking trail at Yosemite National Park has been closed after a huge amount of rocks fell from a cliff onto the trail. The National Park Service said Monday that 16,000 tons of rock fell 500 feet from a cliff near Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on March 31. Luckily, no one was on that portion of the trail at the time of the rockfall and nobody was injured.
The large rocks fell from a cliff east of Wapama Falls. When the rocks hit the ground, they shattered into many boulders and fragments and continued to fall down the cliff. Trees and plants along the path of the rockfall were destroyed and over 400 feet of the Rancheria Falls Trail were destroyed.
The park staff says that they do plan to remove the rocks from the trail and repair it in the future but they are not sure how long the repairs will take or when they will begin. Until the trail can be cleaned up and made safe again, it will remain closed and hikers will not be allowed on it.
When large boulders or rocks fall from cliffs, they often loosen other portions of rock and collide with other boulders. This makes it much more likely that future rockfalls will occur in the same area or nearby.
Park officials say that hikers can still get to Wapama Falls starting at O'Shaughnessy Dam. This rockfall is one of the biggest that the park has seen in recent years and could have been more dangerous if hikers would have been on the trail or in the area at the time.
Park officials have warned hikers to stay alert when hiking near any cliff areas and to watch for falling rocks and boulders. Rockfalls can happen without notice and can cause severe injuries and even death.
Have you ever seen a large rockfall up close?
Image via Wikimedia Commons