Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

MODERATE 1,530 reviews
#1 of 210 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 moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until November.

DISTANCE
6.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2188 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

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
18 hours ago

We hiked till the top of Vernal falls. You can go to Nevada falls and to the top of half dome if you continue the same route. The hike was excellent. The waterfall mist is mesmerizing. Plenty to do on the way too!

1 day ago

One of the best hikes Yosemite has to offer. Bernal falls is the first waterfall and right away you will have some incline. No intense switchbacks until after vernal falls. Be prepared to get wet! As you are walking next to the falls. After vernal falls you can make the decision to head back. Depending on your crew and your fitness level I recommend going to the top of Nevada Falls it’s worth the accomplishment. Here is where the trails becomes hard. Incline with switchbacks. Once you reach the top most people are relaxing and eating before they head back down. Bring waterproof hiking shoes, lunch and 2-3L of water. Have fun!!

hiking
1 day ago

We went a little late so we didn't get the chance to do the whole loop. Definitely a hike to do early and beat the crowed. I can't wait to go back and finish it the scenery was amazing!

hiking
2 days ago

There is a reason why 1500+ review love this trail, so I don't need to tell you much. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We completed it in around 6 hours. I give it 4 star just because I've not found the 5 stars trail yet! I suggest you bring minimum of 3l water, you should go early morning to against traffic lol.

Tips: there is seasonal, quite well maintain restroom at Vernal waterfall.

4 days ago

loved it! This hike took my 3 times to do, the first we turned back at the wet stairs, the second we were hit with a major scary thunder storm half way up the steps. probably the most scared I've ever been. but we turned back and Headed back to the trail safe ground. So note, if there is even a chance of rain don't do it.
The 3rd time we finally made it to the top and all the anticipation and excitement I had to see the top exceeded my expectation, it was so beautiful. And just amazing to finally be at the top. If you haven't hike Vernal plan it because it's such a great hike.

5 days ago

Of all my hikes, so far the best best views.

5 days ago

Did it today it was one of the best hikes me and my wife have ever done

6 days ago

Worth it every single step!! Hard but sooo beautiful!!

6 days ago

Amazing views. This is a difficult hike once you get past the foot bridge but the views are worth it and the mist spray from the falls feels amazing.

8 days ago

Awesome! Words simply do not describe this trail. Very crowded. Go early.

hiking
9 days ago

Absolutely stunning hike. Completed this on 6/10/18 in about 4.5 hours. We started around 8:30am and the hike from the trailhead to Vernal Falls was a bit crowded. I never felt in danger due to the crowds as others have mentioned, but it was definitely crowded. The hike from Vernal Falls to the top of Nevada Falls was quite strenuous. Very steep with a ton of switchbacks making it a long climb. However, getting to the top is so worth it. This portion of the hike was nowhere near as crowded as the first portion. We took the John Muir trail down and it was almost deserted. Tough on the knees after the continuous downhill walk back to the trailhead. I would definitely do the trail again.

My only complaint has nothing to do with the trail. We parked in Yosemite Village and took the free shuttle to stop #16 as advised by AllTrails due to parking issues. We had no problem getting there. After the hike, the line to get on the shuttle was 1.5 hours long. We walked to the previous shuttle station and all buses were full. We ended up having to walk back to Yosemite Village. If this is typical, the shuttle system isn’t efficient enough to count on to get you back to the village. I’d recommend getting there early and driving to the trailhead parking.

hiking
9 days ago

Awesome trail! Just be careful

hiking
11 days ago

Great hike, could feel the mist and roar of the waterfalls, but slippery near the falls.

hiking
12 days ago

This is in my top 3 of favorite hikes ever! I love hiking in Yosemite and this hike is stunning. My brother and I hiked this yesterday by going up the mist trail and back down the John Muir trail. I recommend that you start early as mist trail to Vernal gets crowded quickly. The mist trail has a number of stairs and it’s narrow and wet. Best to avoid the crowd if at all possible. I also recommend hiking back down via John Muir trail to avoid swimming against the stream of hikers trying to go up the mist trail. This is a must when in Yosemite.

12 days ago

I would consider this a hard trail. Wet and slick in a lot of places. Pretty heavily trafficked and I was there on a Tuesday in early June. There were a lot of people to navigate around. Beautiful scenery and definitely worth it.

hiking
13 days ago

That's a classic, I've done it combined with halfdome and cloud rest.

hiking
13 days ago

A comfortable moderate hike with spectacular views! Go in the spring/early summer when the falls are roaring- the mist trail is a remarkable experience, and the views from the tops of the falls are incredible!! In my top 3 at Yosemite, in my top 10 overall

14 days ago

My first hike ever w no prior experience, both for me and my 15yo son. Challenging on the legs a little. So for older knees go back down Muir Trail from the top as everyone suggested. Probably a little dangerous for unsteady people if it’s crowded. Visited 6/5/2018 and completed in four hours about 12:30-4:30. Fairly crowded I think but I have no other hikes to compare it to.

15 days ago

I hiked to half dome on June 2nd. You travel this trail as the start to the Dome. It is amazing! Thankfully we started the hike at sunrise so there was plenty of parking at the trailhead and the trail wasn't crowded. My gf said it made her nervous when she went last summer and the trail was overly crowded so try to go early to beat the masses. Lot of elevation change on this trail...my legs were feeling it!
PS- Don't make the mistake of going back down the mist trail like we did. my left knee was killing me with 2 miles to go from all the downhill and steps

16 days ago

Yes, this trail is busy. Yes, this trail is steep at times. All in all I found this hike very pretty and worth the hassle

hiking
16 days ago

It's everything you've heard it is: beautiful, steep, and something you won't forget. However, I will not be going again, and I suggest you think long and hard before you go.

Imagine a line of people waiting for their turn on a ride at Disneyland, or Magic Mountain, but with zero safety equipment. The stair steps up to Vernal Falls are solid granite, and they were wet when we made the trip. Granite is slippery even when it's dry, worse when it's wet, part of the reason so many people die on Half Dome when a thunderstorm hits. There are sections where the railings are damaged and there are gaps in them. There is a long section where there are no railings at all.

So imagine that you are walking down these stairs, on the cliff side, with barely enough room for two people to pass each other. Now imagine that 90% of the kooks on this trail are pushing and shoving, trying to get past each other in a race to see who can get up the trail first. At a time where you need the consideration of others around you for all of you to stay safe, you will not get that consideration.

I've hiked some scary trails, they were scary because they were narrow, loose, steep, etc. This trail is scary because of the people who are drawn to it. If you've read of the tourists in Yellowstone that took a buffalo calf to the ranger station and demanded they put the calf in the barn because it was cold, that is the type of person who typically hikes this trail-they treat it like a video game, only you won't come back to life after they push you off the edge of the stairs and you plunge to your death in the river below.

Take plenty of water and watch out for kooks. Or come by our camp for a beer and show me you're one of the sane ones.

17 days ago

We did this in late October last year. Weather was close to 80 and the trail, despite going early was packed. I would rate the first portion of stairs on the more challenging side of moderate as they are quite steep until you get to the top of the first waterfall. Awesome trail, but on you probably only need to do once

17 days ago

This hike was definitely hard. It’s worth it but very steep and lots of uphill motion. I call this waterfall a beast because it’s so huge and beautiful to see.

hiking
17 days ago

Amazing hike! Busy at the beginning but people start trickling off after the first falls. There were a lot of people who were too tired or got vertigo that we saw along the way, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Also, keep in mind the elevation will dehydrate you and sunburn you faster so be prepared! You will get misted along the way if the falls are in peak flow, but you’ll welcome it!

18 days ago

Amazing! Go in the spring when the falls is at full force. The most trail had our hearts pumping but glad we made it to the top! We only went to the top of Vernal Falls and it’s still my favorite hike to date.

hiking
18 days ago

Such an amazing trail. Couldn’t recommend more. We did this loop on a beautiful sunny day in late May. The temperature (mid 60s) was perfect and the waterfalls were very full. Definitely recommend doing the loop in this direction with Mist Trail first and then John Muir Trail on the way back. The scenery is beautiful and ever changing. One bit that really stood out (among so many) was the initial traverse on the way back down John Muir Trail, which gave us a remarkable view across to Liberty Cap and Nevada Falls from behind a series of small ephemeral falls that ran overhead.

19 days ago

An absolute must see while in the park. I am 62 yrs old and in ok shape and made it to the top. it is strenuous but take your time, go on a cooler day or early in am. The higher you get the better the views! We have hiked in many NP all over and this id by far our new fav! Do it!

hiking
20 days ago

Gorgeous views of Yosemite. So worth it. But like a few others have said this is at the higher end of the moderate scale. It was pretty steep at some points but again, worth it.

20 days ago

A great hike with amazing views.

21 days ago

This was my first visit to Yosemite and the mist trail was our first hike. I was initially disappointed by the crowds, most were not serious hikers but the hordes thinned after the Vernal waterfall. The trial was rugged and steep most of the way to the Nevada waterfall. The trail was rated moderate but I would rate it somewhere in between moderate and hard. Also, sand along many parts of the trail covered flat stone. I could hear hikers slipping throughout the hike. Nevertheless, it’s a great first and must hike for Yosemite.

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