MOONEY FALLS TRAIL ” The Chains ” – “Tunnels” – “Ladders”
So you have heard someone talking about the chains at Mooney Falls? So what are they and why do I care?
There is natural physical formation dividing point at Mooney Falls. The descent to the base of Mooney Falls requires a somewhat physical challenge.
The greatest factor in preventing someone making it to the base of Mooney Falls has more to do with your state of mind. Many people with a fear of heights will not be able to hack the trail. No matter what physical condition they may be in.
For about 75 feet [last bottom half of this descent] you are on the face of a near vertical cliff. Holding on to chains, and carefully placing your feet into chiseled foot hold or steps. Much of this is wet from the spray coming off Mooney Falls.
Once down at the base of Mooney Falls it opens you to a vast area of more water falls, terraced pools, and lush vegetation.
Beaver Falls is several more hours of hiking downstream of Mooney Falls. Beaver Falls is a “must do” also.
The Mooney Falls descent trail first starts out on some fairly narrow ledges pretty much on a unprotected cliff face, with about a 200ft drop. No safety chains or guards of sorts, to prevent falls. That part at least improves soon. You next pass through two fairly short, hand chiselled, rock tunnels. One of which has about a 45° drop, with steps chiseled in the floor.
Are you still with us??
At the end of the second tunnel you come to what separates out the ones that can’t handle heights. You will step out onto a landing of sorts. With a drop off of another 75-100 ft. This landing at least has a safety chain across the opening to the chasm below. There is a most spectacular view of Mooney Falls from this vantage point.
From here the rest of the decent has the added hazard of things being wet. You have to hold sets of chains on either side of the trail, and use chisels foot holds to descend. Some of these are spaced a little long for short legs to reach. Plus the chains and rock face at this point is wet and slick from the mist off Mooney Falls. Most people turn to face the rock, chains, and hand chiseled foot holds.
Once you survive this there is one short wood ladder, and one final longer ladder. Both nearly vertical, wet, and slick.
I forgot to mention there is often two way traffic on this crazy trail. Be courteous. Especially to the ones that freeze up or are visibly trying to keep it all together, mentally. I have run into people having trouble nearly every time I have been there. I had to assist someone on one occasion.
If you survive that descent you get a prize! Prize? What Prize? The prize of the ascent! You eventually get to do it again, to go back up! LOL. There is no trail around.
The below video is ascending Mooney. Video compliments of Dustin Beach.