Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

MODERATE 1,677 reviews
#1 of 213 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
2,188 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
11 days ago

This trail has amazing views! We hiked all the way up to Nevada falls, it was a hard hike with A LOT of stairs. Once you get to venal falls, the crowd starts to disperse. Bring lots of water for this hike and sunscreen. This hike is on the hard side but the views from the top make it worth it!! Take the John Muir trail back, it adds a mile but you get to see another side of the waterfall by taking the John Muir trail back.

hiking
11 days ago

My best friend and I found this trail when we visited Yosemite a few summers ago. This was a bit difficult as it was ALL uphill so go prepared with water and light snacks! Once you hike about 30 min, you will come up to a break area with water fountains for drinks/bathrooms, etc.
Then after, there are some stone steps which are very steep and possibly slippery due to the mist waterfall. Those will take you all the way up to the top of the waterfall, as well as a cold swimming hole to swim in after the hike! There is an area where you can slide down the smooth rock into the water. We just jumped in and swam to the other side of the hole. We went in late June so it was amazing to jump into and then lay on the hot rock on the other end. No towel needed since we dried off pretty quick! I know the hike continued on but we stopped there, turned around and made our way back down to the bottom. That was the easy part since it was all downhill,especially after the cool down in the swimming hole.

I’d do this hike again but I’d be more prepared next time physically! If you aren’t in shape physically, this will be a tough hike for you! You probably won’t make it to the top if you bring young children due to the steepness towards the top. Can be a bit dangerous. If they are older and mature enough to handle the hike, it would be worth it as they would enjoy the swimming hole! Makes for a great reward! The trail was pretty populated, but it will thin out towards the top due to the length & difficulty of the hike. Very beautiful scenery during the entire hike! Bring a camera! Afterwards, we couldn’t believe we’d only hiked 1.5 miles up to the top! Felt much longer!

12 days ago

I feel like I would have enjoyed this more if I weren’t shoulder to shoulder with other hikers. Especially with the narrowing of the trail along the steps close to the falls. The trail was PACKED.

17 days ago

Take the mist trail up to Nevada Falls, and then come back down the John Muir Trail. The views of Liberty Cap are amazing from the ridge line as you are leaving Nevada Falls. The trail is crammed with people, so be prepared and leave early. Hike is much harder than you would think based on the number of people there.

hiking
18 days ago

oh my goodness. I did this hike with a 25 pound child on my back which made the hike 10x harder. very steep climb to the top and very slippery. the view was stunning on the bright side.

hiking
18 days ago

Seen a reviewer post previous to mine asking about dogs (Lauren Woods)...i believe i did see a dog on this trail when we went BUT i wouldnt recommend taking a dog to the top of the falls. The trail starts off paved before tuning to dirt mixed with stone staircase...the stones arent an even 8" or 10" step, they vary alot and some of the steepest parts its easily 18"-2ft in a step up height, plus a narrow railing at the end to get to the top of first falls. PLUS this is a very crowded hike, so if you arent on your way down and almost finished with the hike by 10AM u will be dodging the "ant trail" of people on their way up that started at like 9:30 or 10am. The hike down was not fun with all the people but overall avery fun trail moderate trail. Not sure how much water is left but we hike 1st week of June and it was perfect. I have some photos posted of the trip, specifically a couple of the falls if anyone want to see for perspective. My IG is @m_packmore

20 days ago

I have a quick question- I am gearing up to go on this hike! Are dogs allowed?

hiking
23 days ago

Very cool and relaxing hike up the falls. Took about 3 1/2 hours round trip but that was just to the top of Nevada fall. The most from the falls feels good for about the last 1/2 mile. Very populated trail btw. Also accesible form the John Muir trail

hiking
26 days ago

Amazing hike, falls, and final destination at the top of the falls!

hiking
27 days ago

Great trail, if you doing a full loop it is probably too hard for younger kids and Its just over 12 miles. Make sure you have plenty of water.

27 days ago

An absolute must for first timers, soak your feet at the top in the ice cold water until they’re numb, it’ll make the trip down easier.

hiking
27 days ago

Absolutely wonderful! A little tough if you aren’t used to hiking a lot but the views are well worth it!

29 days ago

An absolute must! An amazing hike to soak in the magnitude that is Yosemite. If hiking in the summer, start early to avoid the sun as well as the crowds. As others before have, I suggest taking the John Muir trail back down to avoid the crowds and the wet rock steps going back down the trail. This is one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done! .....when you do it early.

hiking
1 month ago

This is my first time going to Nevada falls. I've done the Vernal Falls part of the trail multiple times. I loved making the entire loop. It was a beautiful hike that I can't wait to do again.

1 month ago

First time to Yosemite and First hiking trail...I loved it great work out..

1 month ago

we just finish the trail in vernal waterfall, it's so beautiful there and I will give 5 stars for the trail!

hiking
1 month ago

Possibly my favorite hike in the world!

1 month ago

Great warm-up hike to start your day. Do this hike every day of your visit to get the juices flowing.

hiking
1 month ago

Family hike in mid June...on a Wednesday. Got to the trail head parking lot around 8am and there were still a few parking spots left. Much later and we would have ended up at the Yosemite Village lot.

You’re looking at this hike because you know how amazing the waterfalls are so I’m not going to comment on that other than it’s definitely worth going all the way up to the to of Nevada Falls.

We followed the Mist Trail up to the top of Nevada Falls. There was plenty of people on the trail but It wasn’t crowded that time of day. The steps heading up to Vernal were very wet (from the mist). It took about 3 hours to get to the top of Nevada...we were hiking with our 11 year old twins and 8 year old daughter. It was tough for the 8 year old but she made it with minimal complaints. We had lunch at the top and then decided to take John Muir trail back down...HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!!! Looking at a trail map it added about a mile on to the hike vice going back the way we came, but it avoided having to go down the wet stairs and going against the traffic coming up. I’m positive it was faster then heading back the way we came. The John Muir trail joins the Mist Trail about 0.5 miles below Vernal Falls. Once we got back on the Mist Trail (now about 1pm) it was very crowded.
If you are concerned about the wet steps or step switch back you can take the John Muir trail up as well, but you will miss Vernal Falls and some great views along the Mist Trail.

1 month ago

Best hike ever! Took misty rail up to vernal falls and it was very crowded all day. Make sure you go early to avoid the crowd.

hiking
1 month ago

Finished this hike in about 5 hours with lots of stopping and admiring the waterfalls. I was very thankful we only went up the Mist trail since the stairs seemed somewhat precarious/slippery to go down. If you’re inclined to spend more time on this hike, bring a swim suit! There are great pools both at Vernal and Navada falls, but of course be extremely careful of the strong currents. Both falls were really beautiful, but if you had to do only one, Vernal is really impressive and beautiful. Luckily it’s also an easier hike :) I did this hike 5 month pregnant and did fine. There were also several kids doing this hike. If you’re in reasonably good shape, it’s very doable. Give yourself the day, plenty of breaks and water, and you’ll see some of the best of what Yosemite has to offer!

1 month ago

Beautiful hike! From the valley floor to Vernal is harder than Vernal to Nevada. I enjoy using the JMT to avoid the stairs on the mist trail, especially coming down. This is a popular trail and you will be around a lot of people.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike! Totally worth climbing all the way to the top of Nevada fall.

hiking
1 month ago

Really fantastic trails are kept up lots of wildlife beautiful views a little hot quite a few people but you can’t beat it !!! The falls are magnificent an absolute must see

hiking
1 month ago

We hiked up to Vernal Falls via mist trail and then over and down the John Muir Trail. Recommend this route if your not going any further.

We went early morning and would highly recommend as on the way down was VERY crowded.

Amazing views / don’t forget to stop and look around as every turn is spectacular.

I found the first portion of this hike from trail head to bridge to be the most difficult. I enjoyed the steps up to the falls and loved the views looking back from the John Muir trail.

1 month ago

This is such a beautiful trail and it’s the one that started me on a hiking craze! The stairs were very doable, and if you work out a few times a week you’ll be completely fine! The views are so pretty going up the trail and it’s a huge sense of accomplishment climbing up the waterfall! We climbed up to the base of Nevada falls and then backtracked to the John Muir and took that route down due to time constraints. It’s worth noting that it is quite a bit more climbing up steps to reach the John Muir trail from above Vernal Falls, however I’d still recommend that route rather than going back down the steep steps of the most trail. Can’t wait to complete the entire trail up to the top of Nevada falls one day!

1 month ago

Absolutely worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! A little strenous if you’re not used to high inclines. From happy isles bridge, there will be lots of incline walks, so be prepared and bring lots of water! As you pass by the vernal falls bridge 0.8 mi, you get close to the stone stairs up, then you’ll see the mist and you’ll get wet. Vernal Falls is so pretty! Little more high stairs up to get up to the top of the falls. Great view up there and you’ll see how high you went up. You’ll also see the Emerald Pool.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike along the river. Once you get to the top is a nice place to relax and dip into the river. A lot of stairs.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked up Mist Trail to Vernal Fall and continued up to Nevada Fall came down from Nevada Fall via John Muir Trail. A fantastic loop trail. Listening to the water falls the entire time was a spectacular experience. Lots of people on Vernal Fall section but it thinned out up to Nevada Fall. The falls and view are worth wading through the people.

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