Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

HARD 1,808 reviews
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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 November.

DISTANCE
6.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,188 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
21 hours ago

INCREDIBLE! Started at 9am at the trailhead, and very thankful we did, as on the way down there were a TON of people heading up. The falls are beautiful even at their low levels. Saw a momma bear and her babies at the top of Vernal Falls beside Emerald Pool, and encountered them 2 more times, once between the falls and a third time at the top of Nevada Falls about 30yds away and they startled me pretty badly! Took the John Muir trail back down which was beautiful. Rested for about 2 hours total at the falls, plus the time to wait for the bears to cross our path the second time and not disturb them, it took us 6 hours total. Strenuous, and I could see it be much harder when there’s a lot of mist, but SO worth it. Will definitely be doing it again!

22 hours ago

Wonderful views all the way. Highly recommend taking the John Muir Trail back down to avoid the knee grinding steps of the Mist Trail. We saw some juvenile bears pigging out in one of the treetops.

hiking
8 days ago

Beautiful intro to Yosemite for me! A nice variety of challenges and resting points. Some of the inclines pushed me pretty hard but the rewards to follow (getting to the top of the falls) made everything so worth it. Took us 7.5 hours, including a few well-deserved naps in pretty, sunny places. :)

9 days ago

Loved this hike!! I would highly recommend going all the way to Nevada Falls and taking John Muir down! A total of 9.4 miles! Beautiful from top to bottom! We saw a huge bear along the path as well! Amazing, solid, strenuous hike worth every step!!

hiking
11 days ago

Very difficult. Steps up are no joke. Take your time but the views at the top of each fall are very good. I recommend going earlier rather than later because the trail gets dry crowded.

11 days ago

Incredible waterfalls. Did this in February and they were flowing like mad.

hiking
11 days ago

Some amazing views, even when the waterfalls were at a low level. We even got super lucky and saw a bear and her two cubs at the top of Vernal falls! There were less people as the trail went on, start early and avoid the crowds at the start.

13 days ago

Awesome - was glad we came back John Muir trail! Crowded at vernal falls but pretty much had trail to ourselves to Nevada Falls. Spectacular views from top!

hiking
13 days ago

one of my favorite trails as we only reached vernal falls and went for a dip. water was freezing cold but durable and manageable.

hiking
17 days ago

Tough hike, but the rewards are worth it. The views all along are sublime. Bring plenty of water, as you’ll need more than you think. It’s an arduous climb, so don’t be ashamed to stop and catch your breath and take in the scenery. Other folks will be stopping too. The stair portions are really tough, but push through the pain. Unfortunately we took the wrong turn coming down so we had to revisit the dreaded steps!

17 days ago

Not for your out of shape

18 days ago

I really like this trail, although I only did half. It is beautiful and one of God's masterpieces...

hiking
22 days ago

beautiful challenging trail

22 days ago

Did this in 2017 and a year on I am still convinced it is the best hike I have ever done. So rewarding on both ascent and descent and not just for the two falls. The scenery throughout is stunning. Hard to avoid the crowds but many don't proceed to Nevada. It is tough by virtue of its distance and constant, steady elevation gain but it is not a killer. Take your time and enjoy every step. It really will take some beating for me to find a better hike

24 days ago

tough but worth it!!!

hiking
26 days ago

Can’t wait to come back in spring

hiking
28 days ago

These two trails are awesome. Usually when I want to show someone Yosemite and bring them on a hike with me, I take them to these trails. Vernal falls is very amazing, especially in the late spring early summer. It has the most water late may! Taking the mist trail you get completely soaked. The first 1/2 mike of the trail is fairly easy, just lots of incline but on a paved path. The last part of it after the bridge is all stairs and water. So make sure you have boots that can track in water. Once you reach the top of vernal, you can relax on the pavement or choose to continue on to Nevada. Nevada is much harder to get to because it’s about 2-3 more miles of switchbacks. Bring lots of water for Nevada especially. These are 2 of my favorite trails in Yosemite!!!!

hiking
28 days ago

Start early in the morning (by 8am) to avoid crowds. We were there in mid-September and was not too crowded at that time, but was busy at the bottom when we were finishing up. Hard hike with a lot of vertical climb, but worth it for the views. Take the easier John Muir trail down for some added length and also for the views looking back at the falls you just climbed. Beautiful hike!

1 month ago

Absolutely my favorite day hike ever!!!! The stairs to Vernal Falls were intense. Although still a challenge the hike to Nevada Falls was a bit strenuous. The view at the top was breathtaking. We were also able to see some climbers on Half Dome. Heading down via the John Muir Trail was a great choice, peaceful. This is a must do hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Very fun, but crowded hike. Go early to ensure fewer crowds. Gets pretty uphill towards the end

hiking
1 month ago

Now my 2nd favorite hike in the nation. Sorry, it will be hard to beat the continental divide trail in northern Glacier NP. Due to the drought there were no falls flowing in the valley that we say. Vernal, Illouette and Nevada are flowing however. So let's get to the list.

Total of 7.4 miles in 5.5 hours. Tough trail is you are not in shape due to the elevation change in the short distance

1. Arrive early. We arrived at 7am at the public parking lot and it was already over 3/4 full.
2. The public parking is almost 1/2 mile to the trailhead
3. There is free shuttle service from all visitor centers so if the parking is full, just back up to another parking area, grab a shuttle and be dropped off at the trail head
4. the first mile is all asphalt and steep 10% +/- grade. Once you past the first bridge crossing the trail becomes more dirt and rock. However, the trail at one time was asphalt all the way up to Nevada Falls, That residual asphalt is smooth and slippery from sand so be sure your hiking shoes have good soles
5. Stairs to Vernal Falls. Who made those things/ The last 1/2 mile is practically all stairs and most are 12-18" high.
6.Vernal Falls is flowing. The pool above the falls is absolutely gorgeous but you cannot swim in it or slid a slick rock slide into it.
7. From Vernal to Nevada is mostly a rock path that has been laid down. I would not call it stairs but does have steps. Much easier
8. Nevada Falls is flowing as well.
9. You can swim the pool at the top of Nevada Falls.
10. We came down the John Muir Trail which involves nothing more than crossing the bridge above the falls and following the signs to the valley floor. It added about 1/2 mile but the trail was much easier, in the SHADE. but spots of old asphalt were slippery from sand
11. 2 separate bear encounters on the John Muir at less than 10 yards each. They were on the side of the trail eating acorns and could care less we were just yards from them.
12. Despite being the 2nd week of Sept, it was very busy coming down. People waited until late morning and it was a solid ant line of people coming up. However, most were visitors from other countries.

Enjoy

1 month ago

gorgeous hike. majority of the time it feels like you are climbing the stairs to Mordor. nice views of Nevada falls after Vernon falls on the way up. The view of half dome is great on the way down the John Muir trail. you can see liberty cap, half dome, and Nevada falls at the same time. walking 1 mile past nevada falls to towards half dome is relatively flat and has a nice view of half dome, backside of liberty cap, and follows the river and is a good way to add some distance/time to the hike.

in September the hike started at 47 degrees at 8am and it was 96 when we left the valley floor at 1:30. highly recommend doing it early as the trail was less populated in the fall on a Friday.

hiking
1 month ago

Fantastic hike! We started early in the morning, around 7:30am when the trail did not have too many people on it. The trail is fairly well maintained throughout and signage being fairly good. The two sets of stairs to the top of Vernal and Nevada falls can be difficult if you are not used to going up that number of stairs. Outside of the stairs the trail is not too steep. There are plenty of opportunities to take a break and enjoy the number of stunning reviews across the area. A word of warning, starting the hike later in the morning will leave you with the crowds, making it hard to navigate the stairs.

Be sure to take plenty of water with you (2-3L per person) and snacks. The hike is long (took us nearly 5 hours to complete with breaks).

The hike is also longer than 6.4 miles. The National park site has this hike (Mist trail/ John Muir trail) rated closer to 8 miles. My fitbit also tracked it at 8 miles as well. Long but absolutely stunning and worth every step.

hiking
1 month ago

The mist trail is one of my favorite trails ever! This trail is best when it is not too crowded (avoid weekends or holidays) as it becomes a lot like a theme park and you can't really enjoy the beauty of the hike when you are hiking in a single file line of hundreds of tourists and screaming children.

This trail is definitely tough as you climb stairs straight up Vernal Falls and climb the switchbacks up to Nevada Falls. It is totally worth it! The views are spectacular! If you go during or immediately after a heavy rainy season, bring waterproof gear because you will get drenched.

If you go during the warmer months when the John Muir Trail is open, take the JMT back down to get beautiful panoramic views of Half Dome and Nevada Falls. This section of the JMT is shady and the switchbacks can get a little slick with loose gravel and dirt. I recommend good hiking shoes and trekking poles.

This trail also has restrooms galore! There are restrooms with flushing toilets at the trailhead and at the Vernal Falls Footbridge. There are vault toilets at the top of Vernal Falls and at the top of Nevada Falls. You never really need to worry about needing to go.

Definitely bring lots of water. Our group brought about 3 liters each and had to filter and refill water at the top of Nevada Falls. There is a drinking water filling station at the base of Vernal Falls at the Footbridge (about 1 mile in from the trail head) and there are no other opportunities to fill up after that unless you bring your own filtration system.

1 month ago

Awesome hike! Must do if you’re looking for a hard, 4-6 hour trail. Do the loop. Stairs from hell, then a nice stroll down the Muir Trail. Bring plenty of water. At least 2 liters.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this trail on 09/03/2018. The weather was warm enough to wear you were able to wear a tank top and shorts without a jacket. The hike itself had a long part of incline at the beginning then a “stairway”. The views were amazing.

1 month ago

Best done in late spring and early summer when river is fullest. Proper footwear and water is a must. The best views of Nevada Falls are just a short distance up the trail from Vernal Falls - worth the extra hiking

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike!! Steep hike all the way up but view is totally worth it!! Definitely take the John Muir back for different views and bypass some of those steps!! Take lots of water and wear good shoes. Lots of rocks and slick surfaces. Sunscreen too. Toilets conveniently located on trails. Don’t miss this one!!

hiking
1 month ago

We only made it to the bridge, but it was well worth the climb. There are some very steep grades and a lot of beautiful scenery.

hiking
2 months 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.

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