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
2 days 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!

2 days 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
2 days ago

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

hiking
5 days ago

Great trail, hard work. Wife was absolutely spent after we got down - stairs prior to both falls, but especially Nevada were a killer. Great view all the way. Saw deer, Mumma Bear and 2 baby bears!

hiking
7 days ago

This hike was CAKE with an amazing view over the valley. Two water falls. Hit it early and make sure to go up vernal then Nevada and John Muir Trail on the return.

7 days ago

Best and most rewarding hike I've ever done. Train for this hike.... I'm 36 and in shape, and this kicked my a**. Last visit was OCT 2017. Been twice and plan on going back.

hiking
8 days ago

Fabulous hike- 3.5 hrs from Upper Pines campground with a lunch stop included. We did the walk up to the falls first and looped back on the John Muir Trail. It is a horse trail too but a more manageable grade downhill. A must hike in Yosemite.
Traffic is high to the first falls but gets less onto Nevada Falls. All the extra traffic would make this downhill harder.
Highly recommend.

hiking
8 days ago

Tough walk with a steep climb but definitely worth it. Went at the end of October and there was still water following from both falls. The trees along the trail were in the lovely autumn colours which made it look a lot more beautiful. Sadly John Muir trail was shut at the top so came back down via the mist trail until we could rejoin the John muir trail just before top of vernal falls until the bottom of vernal falls. There was toilets at top of Nevada falls and bottom of vernal falls but were shut for the season. Also remember it can be quite cold at the top but a quite a few degrees so pack extra layers.

hiking
9 days ago

Definitely a challenge that’s definitely worth it! Get your start early so you can take your time and enjoy all the sights. Snacks, water, and good shoes are a must. Did this Saturday, November 3rd, and the weather was great. Both falls still have water but it wasn’t as misty as I was expecting, I’m assuming from the time of the year. The leaves are changing so it’s very beautiful.

hiking
9 days ago

The waterfall was still beautiful. Many people but really good views :)

hiking
10 days ago

Lovely trail, couldn’t make it to Nevada Falls this trip though. We started too late in the afternoon. The stairs are rocky and uneven, so make sure you have solid hiking shoes or thicker soles. I’d recommend bringing water and snacks.

10 days ago

11-03. Do you think there is still water at Nevada and Vernal falls right now? Anyone who has recently been?

hiking
10 days ago

I normally do this trail first when I get to Yosemite. It’s typically pretty busy but it usually thins out the higher you go. The views are stellar! Don’t quit! Do the entire hike and get rewarded with a great experience. I highly recommend doing at some point before going off on a less congested trail.

10 days ago

Very easy to understand why it’s called ‘the most trail’. Solid, would hike again.

hiking
11 days ago

My opinion: The best trail to get the greatest impressions of the Yosemite NP.

We were there in June 2018. On the way to the Vernal Fall it was still very full. Many tourists were traveling there. In addition, it goes right at the beginning very steeply uphill. The paths are asphalted and easy to walk.

However, once you have left the lower part of the Vernal Fall, it is much emptier. Only a few make the climb to the upper part of the Vernal Fall. However, once you have reached the top, the basin of the Vernal Fall offers a great place to rest and swim. The view is wonderful!

After that we continued to climb towards the Nevada Fall. It can get very wet and make the steps slippery. Good shoes are mandatory.

Backwards you either go back the same way, or you use, like us, the John Muir Trail. This is a bit longer, but definitely better!

A part of the hike can be seen in this video from minute 2:53:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMJ84EZDYJw

12 days ago

Great hike! I recommend going up the falls and down the Muir trail (if it’s not closed). Otherwise I recommend bringing a trekking pole because the rock steps can get slippery from the waterfalls and they’re steep anyways (which can be hard on the knees).

View from the top is beautiful and there’s a restroom (but not very clean). The hike is steep yet still doable for those with fear of heights.

I can’t emphasize enough to be prepared and bring water. They post signs, but I see so many people on this trail just wearing sneakers with no backpack or supplies whatsoever. It’s still the wilderness, and it’s important to always come prepared.

14 days ago

One of the best ever!

14 days ago

Great hike. on 10/29 the return via the John Muir Trail was closed. My fitness tracker logged 141 flights of stairs going all the way to the top of Nevada Falls. Views Amazing.

hiking
15 days ago

The trail is well taken care of, as it is one of the most traveled. Get an early start because foot traffic will start around 9am and you won’t get to enjoy the quiet stillness of the trail as much. The waterfalls are gorgeous! The steps are a little rough to get through, but take a break midway, have a snack, take in the waterfall view and trek on!

hiking
15 days ago

Taking my friends up to Nevada Falls was a life changing experience. Although the trail takes a lot of perseverance it is worth it.

One of the most scenic trails I've ever done. Both waterfalls are beyond spectacular and it's a rewarding feeling to reach the top of Nevada Fall and look back down the canyon. It is, however, very popular and not at all an easy hike, so be prepared. I recommend taking the mist trail up and the john muir trail back down.

hiking
19 days ago

Definitely the most scenic trail that I have done to date! It was full of waterfalls, boulders, bridges, valley views, lakes, and giant sequoia trees. On this magical trail you venture first to Vernon Falls and then end your journey at the top of Nevada falls. The ascent up the stairs can feel strenuous at times but just make sure to take short breaks here and there and soak in the waterfall views. Throughout the hike you get to admire in awe the impressive granite formations such as Liberty Cap, Mt. Broderick, and the back of Half Dome. I would recommend bringing around 3.5 L of water for this journey and it was about 8 miles total roundtrip.

- @justroc @just.trek

20 days ago

First off, I would say this trail is a “challenging moderate,” rather than hard - so if you are on the fence, I say go for it! The elevation gain and steps can be daunting, and maybe more so if you are not used to hiking at altitude. However, I took my four year old on this hike today, and we made it to the top of both Vernal and Nevada Falls. I should add that we live in the Sierra Nevada mountains and hike regularly, plus he is quite adventurous. But still.

I was worried about hiking the trail with the Merced only flowing at 9cfs, as the falls in their spring peak flow at 2000-3000cfs. Despite the low flow, the views were absolutely amazing (and we didn’t get wet!). We wanted to do the JMT loop from the top of Nevada Falls, but that section was closed for the winter. Instead, we headed back down the stairs of Nevada Falls until we reached the top of Vernal. There, we branched off and added Clark Point, a lower section of the JMT, in order to avoid going back down the steep Vernal steps with my little guy. The views from Clark Point were spectacular. Then we continued down the JMT which was another win because it we hardly saw anyone from that point on. Adding this section did increase our elevation gain (about 500 ft or so?) and distance to a total of about 8 miles.

Although I was hesitant to visit the falls during, well, the fall, it was totally worth it. In addition to perfect weather, fewer crowds, and gorgeous waterfalls, we also got to enjoy the changing colors of the deciduous vegetation along the Merced.

hiking
29 days 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!

29 days 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
1 month 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. :)

1 month 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
1 month 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.

1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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.

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