Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail

Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail 1024 691 California Wilderness Coalition

Hike Name: Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail

Name of area/general location: Yosemite National Park

Land Acknowledgement: This trail is located in the ancestral homelands and traditional territories of the Ahwahnechee (Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation), Mono, and Northern Paiute. To learn more about the original residents and stewards of the lands, visit native-land.ca

Trail rating: Moderate

Trail mileage: 3 miles round trip to Vernal Falls and 7 miles round trip to Nevada Falls

Permissible trail uses (dogs, horses, mountain bikes, others): Pets, bicycles, and strollers are prohibited on this trail

Description of area, sights, wildlife and any key markers on the trail: Yosemite’s Mist Trail offers travelers the incredible opportunity to visit several remarkable destinations including the famous granite feature that is Half Dome, the two spectacular waterfalls that are Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls are the focus here. The trail’s name is given due to the waterfall spray (aka mist) during the spring and summer seasons that come off of the two waterfalls. Although portions of the trail are incredibly strenuous, there are multiple intermediate destinations that serve as excellent turn-around points, so visitors can adjust the hike to their comfort level. Nevertheless, please be advised that large segments of this trail are completely uphill.  

One can reach the first turn-around point after hiking only 0.8 miles beyond the trailhead, which is located near Happy Isles in eastern Yosemite Valley.  The footbridge offers visitors a great view of Vernal Falls after a short and relatively flat hike.  To get an up-close view of Vernal Fall, visitors should travel beyond the bridge by following the trail until they reach a steep granite stairway. This stairway is over 600 steps and leads visitors to the top of Vernal Falls. In spring and early summer, these steps are often slippery due to mist from the waterfall, so wear slip-resistance shoes and prepare to get wet. The mist from this waterfall often produces a vibrant rainbow and the top of the waterfall has breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley, so it’s a great spot to take pictures.

Visitors may also choose to turn around once they reach the top of Vernal Falls or continue their journey toward Nevada Falls. Those who continue to follow the Mist Trail will pass by Emerald Pool and Silver Apron. Note, it is illegal and extremely dangerous to swim here, so please use caution when crossing through this area.

The trail leading to Nevada Falls is tremendously steep and rocky, but the scenery along the trail is exceptionally vivid and charming. At the top, the footbridge crosses the Merced River and grants visitors a closer view of the 594-foot waterfall. 

Visitors can choose between the Mist Trail or the John Muir Trail as their route back to Yosemite Valley. Although the John Muir Trail is significantly longer, it has a great view of Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap, so the path is highly recommended. The entire hike is strenuous and is estimated to take five to six hours to complete, so please plan accordingly.

Directions: From any entrance into the park, follow signs for Yosemite Valley, eventually looking for signs to Curry Village. Parking is not available at the trailhead, but visitors can park at Curry Village and walk to the trailhead. Visitors can also ride the Valley-wide or East Valley Shuttles to shuttle stop #16 and follow the signs across the bridge to where the trail begins. This hike is extremely popular, and the trail gets easily crowded with visitors, so plan to arrive early, especially during peak season.

AllTrails Hike Link: Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail | Map, Guide – California | AllTrails

For more information: NPS.gov Homepage (U.S. National Park Service)

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Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials

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