Explore the most popular river trails in Yosemite National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Stunning views all the way to the top! Save your knees and take in different views and perspectives by taking the John Muir trail down! Truly breathtaking! Note: we saw lots of bear poop on the way down but zero bears:/

Hiked up and continued to Sentinel Dome. Was not as difficult as I expected. A steady pace was possible completely aerobically. Every corner offered a new view. Changing sunlight kept it interesting.

Yesterday my wife and I finally started this trail at 6 am. After watching YouTube for 10 months and a few months of hiking in around Brisbane Australia to prepare, we soon found out how under prepared training wise we were . We took advice from others on the day to take it steady and at our pace. The peace and quiet and scenery was amazing with a fog covering the valley floor on a chilly clear morning. . The only disappointment was we didn’t make the top. Even with this disappointment we knew the hike down would be as tough as going up. If you do decide to climb this beautiful place don’t underestimate how hard this hike is.

Beautiful views. The trail work is amazing! Hats off to the trail crews.

Outstanding hike, be prepared to climb and get wet. The steps to Vernal falls on the Mist trail will leave you drenched from the water fall mist. The views are fantastic.

Be prepared to climb and climb some more, but you will be rewarded with an awesome view. Make sure you go to the observation point to look straight down the falls. Make sure to wear hiking shoes, you will be sliding back down to the valley if you don’t. There are allot of steps and loose rocks and sand to slip on as you descend. Bring water on sunny days or a filter to get water at the streams along the climb. Rain will only make it more slick so be prepared.
Amazing and difficult hike, highly recommend! Will get your heart pumping for sure!

Really enjoyed the flora and the incredible vistas and the waterfalls that are abundant all the way up!

one of the most challenging hikes I have ever done. It is long and strenuous, felt like it doesn't end. We went on a cool day but still ran out of water, make sure to grab at least 3L for each person going.
there were patches of snow along the trail
the way back hurts the legs, note to self was to grab pain-killers to survive the way back

clockwise May 19 2018, 3 days 2 nights. Camped at Vernon lake and Rancheria (considered Tiltill but limited sites and unlimited mosquitoes).

In the early season, this is as good as any Yosemite backcountry hike (lakes, waterfalls, views, variety of ecosystems and vegetation)
+ and
no crowding (walked up for permit, saw fewer than 10 people when away from lower trail along the reservoir).

In later season I can imagine the dust and heat and aridity might change the balance and drop a star.

It may distract from your enjoyment if you think about the history of Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Consider the info from online and national park service as well as from San Francisco department of water that is on the placards.

Prep suggestions:
* we liked clockwise, not only to get elevation out of the way early, but facing into nice view coming back down to Hetch Hetchy :
* be ready for wearying uphill and downhill out of and then back in to Hetch Hetchy Valley
* check if you will need to wade thru Tiltill Valley (water above boot line and no way around, for approx 20 yards each side of the valley). Soft soil and grass meant barefoot was fine for most of our group.
* fair amount of bogs and rock hopping and downed trees changed our time calculus.

Highlights:
* great campsites + no fire restriction
* water at Wapama falls is enough to get wet walking across the bridge but not enough to close the trail
* wildflowers!! (So so many and so many species, especially at lower elevations)
* Tiltill Valley = spectacular in a peaceful way, well worth seeing (think baby Yosemite or tiny pre flood Hetch Hetchy)
* Vernon lake, especially from the ridge above the lake (toward Tiltill/Rancheria)

Note on mileage: Trails illustrated is 25, not counting unavoidable .5 each way from parking to the dam and variable to get from junction to actual camping at Vernon (.3 each way, but could be more). My gps said 27.5. I would use 25+ for planning assumption, not the 23 from AllTrails (sorry guys!)
Final note that the backcountry office says 28 miles, but I believe that is the trails illustrated 25 plus 3 miles optional extra around laurel lake.

Great loop, be aware thou.
the whole loop it's block by rocks, so it is flooded. You need to go upper side of trail at one point. Probably 1 mile, going between Rocks, over tree trunks and under tree trunk. So, not as easy for now. We got Sun, Rain and Mosquitoes.
Si dress accordingly to the weather.
Still thou, a challenge for beginners like us. I found a stick about 6ft. came very handy to go through this obstacles.
Great spots for pics!

Only did the Mist Trail. Didn’t go all the way to Vernal Falls. It was difficult. Uphill the whole way. Spectacular views of the waterfall. I highly recommend!

Please see Taylor M’s review

It’s more like 7 miles round trip..
I would recommend going up early to avoid the people traffic. Please have hiking shoes or boots, running shoes are no problem going up, the problem is coming back down and stepping on slick rocks.

I thought it was very hard but totally worth it. I was with 20 somethings and they had to wait for me a lot but since it was Mother’s Day they were very kind. I loved the challenge and felt very accomplished when we were done. Beautiful waterfalls but very crowded.

Awesome and amazing hike with gorgeous view all the way to the top! WARNING this is a difficult hike with trail consisting of mostly stones and rocks "A cement stair master"

hiking
5 days ago

Easily the most challenging yet rewarding hike I have ever done. A challenging point was locating the trail once you reach the rock faces and before the cables. Most important things for this hike are good traction Shoes and of course gloves for the cables!

Despite the elevation gain, the treadway is for the most part is smooth with comparatively few rocks. Stunning views on the way up of Yosemite Falls, and of the eastern end of the valley, including Half-Dome, once on top.
Only small scattered patches of snow remain on the trail in the higher elevations as of early to mid May.

Quintessential Yosemite trail!
Very enjoyable despite the heavy traffic.
Early to mid May (on a weekday) best for more impressive waterfalls with Spring thaw and lesser throngs of other hikers.

leave the bay area around 3 a.m. Roll into Yosemite about 6 or 6:30. In Hit Yosemite Falls Trail. And then have all day afterwards.

Power through the punishing ascent at the beginning. It’s worth it! This has stunning florae the whole way that made me feel like I was in the Pacific Northwest. There’s also tons of manzanita (and really old, grown in manzanita). There are some switchbacks about 3/4 of the way in that took me longer than I’d care to admit to complete, but the falls itself are worth the climb.

I’m surprised this hasn’t been featured on Westworld or something. It has a foreboding, imposing look and has to be seen to be believed. If you are scared of heights, be forewarned that the top of the falls may creep you out a bit.

I am a beginning hiker and wouldn’t rate this as hard at all. It is rolling hills, but it doesn’t have any crazy ascents like pretty much every other hike in the Sierras. It gave me the confidence I needed to start going on more ambitious day hikes and is absolutely stunning in wildflower season (April 2018 in my case). I recommended it for beginners just starting out with dayhiking, but wear a hat and sunscreen up, because it’s very sunny!

Definitely hit the trail early, as others have said it gets really crowded. A hundred feet from the trailhead a bobcat walked right by me. The trail and views are phenomenal, especially the rainbows from Vernal Falls. As you ascend up Vernal the steps get pretty crazy, but the view from the top is so worth it. I continued on up to the top of Nevada Falls. Let me tell you, it’s no joke! Quite a work out, but when you get to the top of Nevada Falls you forget all the pain of going up. I opted to descend the John Muir Trail to skip the steps I hiked up. Ended up being about 9.5 miles (from trailhead parking), 2500’ elevation gain, and a little over 5 hours for me... that includes several breaks! Watch your step, take plenty of water, and know your limits and you’ll be fine.

Get their by 7 if you don't want to be overwhelmed by the crowds. You don't get soaked though. You get misted, moistened, sprayed, or damp but unless you fall in the river you're not getting soaked. I dried off in 15 min of sitting in the sun. The stairs are huge so take John Muir if you're short or have problems with stairs.

One of the most popular trails at Yosemite and an awesome one. Was my girlfriends first big hike. Plenty of people on Vernal falls mist trail but fun getting wet and enjoying the scenery. You get a break between the two trails as it is more flat, then a sharp ascent to the top of Nevada Falls. Took us a 8 hours to do Vernal and Nevada up with John Muir trail down. This was an easy pace with stopping for lunch for 45 min at Vernal Falls. As we were coming back around 7 pm, we saw a bear about 5 minutes from the base of the trail. My first time! Although looking back the bear seemed more afraid of me than me from him. I made myself Big and yelled. He went away. But was very cute looking back. Highly recommend this great trail!

On the top of the fall there’re several lovely rocks that looks like penguins on the edge of the cliffs next to the fall. Magnificent view of the valley and the snow mountains far away.
So many places you can take postcard style and Instagramable photos. My personal favorite is the flat rock on the edge of the cliffs on the top of the fall overlooking the valley.
There’s a small bridge across the river to Yosemite point but if don’t have the time to go to Yosemite point definitely check out the bridge, it’s very close to the top of the fall.

We did the hike last march. It was amazing to hike up to the top. Because it was still spring, there was still ice on the trail and the trail was slippery. A lot of people had to stop and went back down. We decided to come forward to the top and it was the best decision because the view is super beautiful. Just be careful of the water and slippery trails!

The views from this trail are incredible! On a sunny day, the light reflects off Vernal Falls and creates breathtaking rainbows over the waterfall. Be prepared to get WET though, and the trail itself is steep and slippery- definitely a 7 out of 10 difficulty wise. We did not go all the way to Nevada falls, but took a “shortcut” following the John Muir trail to get back to the trailhead to avoid descending the slippery steps. If I were to do it again though, just brave it and go down the wet steps, as the John Muir way takes about 2 miles longer to get down.

What a place! Spectacular!
We did the whole trail and found it to be 12 miles with 2100 feet of ascent. Worth it! Be sure to visit Glacier Point afterwards to see where you hiked. So cool!

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