Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

HARD 2269 reviews
#1 of 246 trails in

Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail is a 8.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.8 miles Elevation Gain: 2,191 feet Route Type: Loop

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

bird watching

ohv / off road driving

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.

Strenuous hike with sketchy ice patches but the views are amazing of the mountains and waterfalls!

hiking
10 days ago

Cool, not easy, very slippery in Jan

hiking
12 days ago

So beautiful! The rocks were slippery and a bit nerve wracking but the sight was totally worth it

hiking
rocky
14 days ago

This was such an amazing hike for our first trip together to Yosemite! We went in April 2019 when the falls were pumping. Vernal falls was spectacular. The Mist Trail was incredible, but be prepared to get soaked. We didn’t bring parkas, but I’d recommend one. Luckily, it was pretty sunny & hot when we got to the top rocks so we dried off quickly. We didn’t go all the way to Nevada Falls due to a 1 year old & 5 year old with us (the 5 year old hiked the whole way without complaint though). We ended up doing the Mist Trail & switched over to John Muir on the way back. We ended up going about 7 miles total, but easier with small children.

hiking
16 days ago

My husband and I got engaged in this trail in 2018. It was amazing!

hiking
16 days ago

Favorite hike I've ever done! Only had one day in Yosemite so we chose this one, definitely worth it. The best piece of advice someone gave me about the Mist Trail is to go back to the trailhead via the John Muir Trail after you get to Nevada Falls. Your knees (and the people trying to go up) will thank you. I couldn't imagine going back down those steep stair parts by both Nevada and Vernal Falls in a descent. Some pretty interesting things to see on the JMT as well. Closed in winter though so check conditions. This was back in August, don't remember how much time it took to complete. Only thing I wish is that we had started this hike earlier in the morning, did this on a Friday in the summer and got a late start and the parking lots/shuttles/trail up to Vernal were packed. Couldn't imagine on a weekend.

The off shoot to Vernal Falls was closed. Other than that, the trail to Nevada Falls was fine.

hiking
17 days ago

There’s significant elevation gain here, my 12 year old did well taking her time.

hiking
20 days ago

It was the most interesting trail in my live.

hiking
icy
rocky
snow
22 days ago

Had an incredible time even with icy conditions and mix of snow on the ground. Bring your trekking poles as about 3.5 miles in there is snow and black ice. Going down to the falls is extremely steep and trekking poles helped immensely as I witnessed many ill-prepared hikers who fell. As per the loop, the smaller section is closed due to bad conditions and rockfall. It is closed for the winter. The winter trail access goes for 8.5 miles and 2,492 fit of elevation gain. December on this trail won’t disappoint! It has it all!

23 days ago

Really steep yet satisfying hike. hiked with 5 and 9 y/o in August, and everyone enjoyed. Amazon views

hiking
closed
icy
snow
25 days ago

Beautiful trail specially coz of the snowfall last night 12/23/2019. Trees and mountains were all snow clad creating an absolutely magical winter wonderland!

hiking
27 days ago

Both Vernal and Nevada falls are gated and out of bounds. Still went through the gates at Vernal, the path was a bit slippery but not too bad and the view was stunning. The trail to Nevada falls was closed at Clarke point, since it was snowing pretty heavily by then. Didn't take the risk of going in there since I didn't have proper equipment.

hiking
1 month ago

This is hands down, one of the best trails I’ve ever been on. The whole hike I was looking around AMAZED at the views and the massive waterfalls. I practically ran up the stone steps to get to the top! So so so worth it! I would recommend starting early to beat the crowds that tend to collect on the bridge.

hiking
icy
1 month ago

This is my favorite trail in Yosemite Valley. The reward for the many stone steps and steep incline you’ll experience is such a good pay off. Amazing views and serene waterfall pools. Can be a little crowded up to Vernal Falls but last that it’s peaceful and quiet the higher and closer you get to Nevada. Be sure to time manage because it is easy to get caught in the dark on the way back. Also do not attempt the John Muir Loop (just use mist in-and-out) if there was recently snow or ice or rain. VERY STEEP CLIFF WITH HUGE ICICLES on John Muir by Nevada up top.

hiking
1 month ago

I loved this trail. I began the trail around 12:30 and finished at 4. I hiked this on a Thursday and it was not crowded at all! Both waterfalls were amazing. The lake at the bottom of Vernal was so serene. There are many stone steps going up to Vernal. A hiker passed me and had counted 340+ steps. I would say the hike is strenuous up to Vernal, after that to Nevada the trail was fairly easy.

hiking
2 months ago

I had a great time! It was a little more crowded than I like but that’s to be expected. Make sure to pack a flashlight! I was accounting for my time based on my normal hiking pace but there are many obstacles that slow you down. I hiked the last 2 hours in the dark, and that was beautiful in its own way because of all the stars but I’m grateful had a flashlight on all those steep stone steps!

hiking
2 months ago

U can watch the trout wait for food trickledown the fall into emerald pool. Ran into a tagged bear around 5pm, yelled and he slowly walked away. 12 yards from me.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

This was a tough hike, but I'm not in great shape and I was able to do it. Lots of steps and switchbacks, but also lots of great places to stop for a few. We came in November and both falls were still flowing. Bring lots of water and snacks, and get an early start, it took up about 6 hours with the breaks.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

We went up mist trail, but no mist at all this time of year. Path was paved and fairly crowded to Vernal and then thinned out. It was mostly stairs the foot bridge. After the Emerald pools the path was rock/stones and sandy slick at some points. Again mostly straight up. Nice views at the top and the trail was flat the last part after the fork to Half Dome. We took the John Muir trail back down which had great views back to Liberty dome and the falls. The trail was slick at some points but definitely better than taking the stairs back down and was in the shade after 2p coming down.

hiking
2 months ago

Tough little sucker, but doable. Heavily traffic (I went on a Saturday) absolutely beautiful.

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely loved this hike! I recommend going in the spring or early summer when the waterfalls are at full force! Yes it’s peak season and yes it’s busy, but there’s room for everyone!

Wasn’t super thrilled by this trail. The trail conditions were overused, dusty, and the rocks they laid down were laid in a way that makes the hike less than ideal. The waterfalls are stunning, especially Nevada Falls, but I’d pick other tails over this one.

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