Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

HARD 1340 reviews
#1 of 228 trails in

Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail is a 6.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Yosemite Village, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
6.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,191 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

partially paved

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

snow

no dogs

During the winter months, portions of the John Muir Trail in Yosemite are closed. Visitors can still visit the falls, but you must return on the stairs, instead of returning on the John Muir Trail. Hike to two breath-taking waterfalls along Yosemite Valley's most popular hiking trails. If you only have time for one hike while in Yosemite look no further: the Mist Trail is the hike for you. It is no wonder why this trail is one of the most popular trails in Yosemite Valley. You will hike so close to 2 massive waterfalls that it will be very difficult to avoid the mist from the falls. The best time to hike this trail is in Spring or early Summer, while the snow runoff is high and the falls are full of water. The Mist Trail starts at Happy Isles trailhead (YARTS shuttle stop #16, and within walking distance of Curry Village and parking lot). After a brief stroll along the river, you climb a pretty steep initial accent until you reach the footbridge, which offers the first glimpse of Vernal Fall in the distance (and a water-fountain and restrooms). You will then continue up to Vernal Fall, past Emerald Pool, and alongside Nevada Fall until you reach the high-point for this hike. Then take the alternate route down along the John Muir Trail to see views of Nevada Fall and Liberty Cap in the distance before meeting back up with the Mist Trail near the footbridge. The route back is slightly longer, but offers a change of scenery and is easier on the knees. Before hopping back on the YARTS shuttle, treat yourself to some ice cream or a refreshing drink at the small stand, or head over to Curry Village for a larger variety of choices.

hiking
11 days ago

We went up to Nevada falls via the Mist Trail and then looped back down the John Muir switchbacks. If you like to hike you must do this - it’s beautiful and rewarding. I love this hike. We went when the falls were just thundering and we were soaked so be prepared for that possibility depending on how Vernal falls is running. If you’re in Yosemite and have not done this hike just do it you will not regret it! Spectacular views.

hiking
15 days ago

JM trail was closed so we couldn't do the loop in mid october. Ended up doing out and back on the mist, still a great hike. Definitely one of the more popular trails in the valley, so be prepared for lots of traffic on trail.

hiking
16 days ago

We did this hike in mid-December. While cold on the valley floor, we quickly warmed up with both the elevation gain and increased exposure to the sun. Really busy at the base of the hike but thins out as different path options are made available. Beautiful views of the valley and two legendary waterfalls. Great places to stop for lunch or enjoy a beer. Easy to follow, although we weren't able to do the full loop due to trail closures from rockfall risk.

17 days ago

Challenging hike but the views are worth it. I'd definitely like to check it out in the Spring. Trail got pretty busy on the way down so start early.

hiking
18 days ago

Awesome trail that is almost completely uphill out and downhill back. This is a do not miss hike when in Yosemite. The views get better and better as you go. Completed it over New Years so it was a little icy on the stairs by the top of the falls but there is a little side route to avoid the ice if you need.

hiking
29 days ago

Parts of the Mist trail are closed, detouring you to John Muir trail. It makes it longer by ~2.5 but completely with it. Great views of upper Yosemite Falls as you hike up John Muir trail

hiking
1 month ago

Woah! Great hike, straight up at some points but worth it. Some ice on the steps toward the top. Amazing views, wonderful waterfall and less than 10 people!

hiking
1 month ago

My girlfriend and I did this hike on Sunday (12/2) after having camped in the Upper Pines Campground the night before.

After watching sunrise at Tunnel View and exploring the Yosemite Valley Village, we made the short drive over to the small parking lot closest to the trail. We began our trek around 11:30 am and arrived back at our car around 4 pm.

From the very beginning of our hike it was incredibly icy. We saw a multitude of "tourists" attempting to climb the steep walkway leading to the Vernal Footbridge in nothing more than sneakers and other forms of unseasonable footwear. However, after this point we saw only three or four other groups of hikers on our way up Nevada Falls, all adequately prepared to take on the elements.

The initial staircase to the top of Vernal Falls wasn't too frozen over, until the very end, and that's when it became very slick. Luckily, my girlfriend and I were wearing our Yaktrax and that allowed us to maneuver our way up the stairs without issue.

Although neither one of the falls were gushing (as they do in the spring and summer) enough to give us the spray that The Mist Trail gets its namesake, it was probably for the best, as the vast majority of the trail was in the shade and I don't think it got above freezing. However, that didn't deter us from thoroughly enjoying this majestic hike with the stark contrast of sunshine reflecting off granite rocks against the fresh coat of snow on the shaded riverbank; which made for some magnificent photography opportunities!

This hike definitely lived up to the hype!

1 month ago

Wonderful hiking trail! A bit challenging with the incline but worth every step. Spectacular view of the waterfall and Yosemite rock structure.

hiking
1 month ago

Son of a gun, this trail was tough. This was due to the rock stairs and almost constant steepness. It got my knees on the way down - I had to stop and stretch those knees out from time to time. I split off to check out Little Yosemite at the top intersection because it was only 1 mile away, but then I got about halfway and saw the trail headed down which meant I'd have to go up again to come back. By then, I reached a "nope" point so I turned around and just went to Nevada. The falls were beautiful and the views from the top of Nevada were breathtaking. I had my snack on a ledge overlooking the fall edge. It was the best. I headed back down on John Muir Trail. I felt like both routes were equally steep.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hiked to the Backpacker’s camp. It was covered it snow. So beautiful. The hike is grueling but worth it.

1 month ago

Great hike! Did this in mid October, the waterfalls weren’t at full volume but the weather was great. Saw a momma bear and 2 cubs between Vernal and Nevada falls, and the views were incredible. Challenging but worth it. Came back the John Muir trail to change the scenery a bit. A must do

hiking
1 month ago

We hiked to Nevada Falls vía this trail back in September and absolutely loved it! The hike starts with an uphill on a paved trail for a few miles and the crowd of people starts to diminish once you get closer to Vernal Falls. The uphill is tough but don’t get discouraged, it’s worth the effort!! Vernal fall was not as strong during September which was helpful because there’s a few slippery rocks going up to Vernal. Once you pass Vernal and start reaching Nevada Falls the views are even more spectacular with Half Dome looking larger because you’re closer to it! Hiking shoes are helpful but you’ll get by with some running shoes. Take plenty of water, and a flashlight in case you get caught in the dark like we did. The hike took us about 7 hours round trip with sightseeing and lunch. Get out there and have fun!!

camping
1 month ago

This hike was my first hike in Yosemite during my first visit to this amazing National Park. As others have mentioned, the stairs are challenging but well worth the views at Vernal Falls. During the Fall/Winter season the falls are not flowing as Spring/Summer but a beautiful sight nonetheless. Amazing hike, highly recommend.

hiking
1 month ago

If you take the shorter route up, be prepared for STAIRS FROM HELL- but super worth it. We took the shorter (but harder) route up, and the longer route down so it would be easier on the knees going down. Amazing views!!

2 months ago

Beautiful! Amazing views all around. It was a tough climb for sure but I highly recommend it. Both waterfalls were still gorgeous even though they aren’t flowing at full capacity. We saw a mama bear and her two cubs as well as a bobcat on trail, pretty amazing!!

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike, definitely strenuous going up some of the steep areas. But it was worth it going up to Nevada Falls. Took the John Muir trail on the way down, much easier on the knees. Careful, There were some icy patches at the top of that trail. Took us 4 hours to hike, we covered about 8 miles.

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome! Still had water at both Vernal and Nevada Falls. We took the entire route listed but didn’t take the “shortcuts” on the recorded map (short stairs to curb the corners on the switchbacks) and our route total walking from the Half Dome Campgrounds was over 10 miles! The stairs at Vernal Falls were tough but the stairs to the top of Nevada were tougher. Single ledge “more natural stairs” were definitely more unnerving than the Vernal Falls portion. Total flights of stairs recorded were 180! What a great way to spend a Sunday morning!

2 months ago

Great hike. I recommend starting around 8 to beat most of the crowds. We went on Nov 11 and it was COLD in the morning so bring layers. This hike is not challenging if you are in shape but there are a lot of stairs around the two falls which can make it difficult.

walking
2 months ago

Good. Some parts were super easy, a few right before Nevada falls were steep and technical for the average person.

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail, hard work. Wife was absolutely spent after we got down - stairs prior to both falls, but especially Nevada were a killer. Great view all the way. Saw deer, Mumma Bear and 2 baby bears!

hiking
2 months ago

This hike was CAKE with an amazing view over the valley. Two water falls. Hit it early and make sure to go up vernal then Nevada and John Muir Trail on the return.

2 months ago

Best and most rewarding hike I've ever done. Train for this hike.... I'm 36 and in shape, and this kicked my a**. Last visit was OCT 2017. Been twice and plan on going back.

hiking
2 months ago

Fabulous hike- 3.5 hrs from Upper Pines campground with a lunch stop included. We did the walk up to the falls first and looped back on the John Muir Trail. It is a horse trail too but a more manageable grade downhill. A must hike in Yosemite.
Traffic is high to the first falls but gets less onto Nevada Falls. All the extra traffic would make this downhill harder.
Highly recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

Tough walk with a steep climb but definitely worth it. Went at the end of October and there was still water following from both falls. The trees along the trail were in the lovely autumn colours which made it look a lot more beautiful. Sadly John Muir trail was shut at the top so came back down via the mist trail until we could rejoin the John muir trail just before top of vernal falls until the bottom of vernal falls. There was toilets at top of Nevada falls and bottom of vernal falls but were shut for the season. Also remember it can be quite cold at the top but a quite a few degrees so pack extra layers.

hiking
2 months ago

Definitely a challenge that’s definitely worth it! Get your start early so you can take your time and enjoy all the sights. Snacks, water, and good shoes are a must. Did this Saturday, November 3rd, and the weather was great. Both falls still have water but it wasn’t as misty as I was expecting, I’m assuming from the time of the year. The leaves are changing so it’s very beautiful.

hiking
2 months ago

The waterfall was still beautiful. Many people but really good views :)

hiking
2 months ago

Lovely trail, couldn’t make it to Nevada Falls this trip though. We started too late in the afternoon. The stairs are rocky and uneven, so make sure you have solid hiking shoes or thicker soles. I’d recommend bringing water and snacks.

2 months ago

11-03. Do you think there is still water at Nevada and Vernal falls right now? Anyone who has recently been?

hiking
2 months ago

I normally do this trail first when I get to Yosemite. It’s typically pretty busy but it usually thins out the higher you go. The views are stellar! Don’t quit! Do the entire hike and get rewarded with a great experience. I highly recommend doing at some point before going off on a less congested trail.

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