Spring Sale! Get a year of AllTrails Pro for only $14.99
Get Started

Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

HARD 1382 reviews
#1 of 227 trails in

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

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

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

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
3 hours ago

I’ve done this trail 4 times,I’ll do it again. Mist trail going up,John Muir down is the safest way but I usually do the opposite,since the John Muir is more strenuous.

hiking
4 days ago

If you visit Yosemite and did not do this moderate hike, you wasted your time and money. The best view of the most gorgeous water fall can be seen and felt via Mist Trail. Vernal Fall is huge and since the trail runs right next to it, you’ll have front row seats to the beauty of Yosemite. Very crowded though. Once you get to the top of Vernal Fall, continue on to Nevada Fall. Most people turn back after getting to the top at Vernal Fall. Though most have decided to turn back, there’s still quite a few that will venture forward to Nevada Fall. Once you get to Nevada Fall, there will be a restroom there. Though not hard, the elevation gain and length is enough to encourage you to take several breathers. Bring plenty of water (a liter per person minimum). I’ve done this hike about four times and enjoyed it each time. Would do more if not for the steep entrance fee into Yosemite that keeps going up. It usually takes me about 6 hours to complete the hike. It is kid friendly and though hiking gear is recommended, I have done just fine with running shoes.

7 days ago

Nothing compares to hiking in Yosemite!

hiking
rocky
10 days ago

This trail is beautiful and worth the time doing it. Just make sure you leave early (Dawn) and I would suggest taking one of the other trails down because later in the day it becomes a zoo ( like waiting in line at Disneyland instead of hiking)

hiking
snow
15 days ago

Did this hike 03/09 on a sunny day. The closed trail in the winter makes it a lot longer than what the signs advertise at the beginning of the hike - plan lots of time to do it. We started at 8am and finished at 2pm with lots of breaks and losing the trail a couple times. With the trail closure you can only get to the viewpoint at the top of Vernal fall, and the hike up is very steep and snow covered currently. Spikes are highly reccomended. The last section of the trail leading to Nevada falls was not marked and snowed over so we had to somewhat guess the way. Very beautiful hike but not for the faint of heart in the winter. Give yourself lots of time, dress warmly, and plan to do more sliding than walking on the way back down.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. Those waterfalls... love the sounds and views, Crowded. If doing this hike consider making this hike into the Yosemite Grand Tour, you've already completed the most challenging part and there are not crazy crowds and you'll get to see glacier point among other views.

hiking
1 month ago

This is nice but heavily travelled with A LOT of people. If you can get to the 'Horse Trail' aka John Muir Trail, you can avoid the long lines going up the Mist Trail. These trails are the 'gateway' to Little Yosemite. Once in Little Yosemite, you can head up Half Dome or Cloud's Rest.

hiking
1 month ago

This is nice but heavily travelled with A LOT of people. If you can get to the 'Horse Trail' aka John Muir Trail, you can avoid the long lines going up the Mist Trail. These trails are the 'gateway' to Little Yosemite. Once in Little Yosemite, you can head up Half Dome or Cloud's Rest.

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike in mid December and it was great- some icy patches along the way at the time but navigable in hiking shoes alone. Beautiful view from the top of the falls!

hiking
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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.

2 months 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
2 months 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
closed
rocky
snow
2 months ago

Great trail for an intermediate hiker, day hike trail for sure with plenty of awe inspiring stops. Large stone staircases near the end climbing up to Nevada Falls. Land up by Nevada Falls is also icy and very slippery in late December. Portions of the JMT become closed and impassible during the winter, listen to the signs and don't risk it.

hiking
3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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!

3 months ago

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

hiking
3 months 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
3 months ago

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

3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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
4 months 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!!

4 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
4 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
4 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!

4 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
4 months ago

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

Load More