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Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

HARD 1430 reviews
#1 of 231 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
1 day ago

The Mist Trail is pretty moderate but very beautiful and worth the trek. The first .8 miles to Vernal Falls Bridge are flat and dry switchbacks. Once you pass the bridge and make your way up to Vernal Falls things start to get pretty wet and rocky. The rest of the trail is stairs carved into the rock and switchbacks. There’s a decent amount of water and water crossings on the trail so waterproof boots and outer shell are necessary. We did this trail yesterday, started a little later in the morning at 9am and finished in 4.5 hours (including lunch and multiple stops for shooting the falls). We took the JMT loop back down to the valley because the idea of climbing down all the wet and rocky steps with the rush hour crowds seemed terrible. I will def take the JMT route on the descent (and the ascent too) next time as it’s much more scenic and dry. It’s also a lot less steep and the switchbacks down were a breeze. The JMT only adds on maybe a mile extra to the RT total.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
washed out
1 day ago

Difficult trail, so make sure you're prepared. Waterproof everything is a must. At least a waterproof jacket for walking up to Vernal Falls, but waterproof shoes and pants are also a great idea. At this time (late May), water is flowing and there are a lot of secondary waterfalls besides the main ones - one is actually in the path on the John Muir Trail and to have to walk through it. You WILL get soaked, and water is probably a foot deep. I also didn't realize how scary the steps were - I'm not a fan of hikes and the steps up are often on the edge of the cliff, especially up to Nevada Falls. Some areas have poor footholds and are slippery (especially with rain), or at least your shoes are at that point, so make sure you wear proper footwear. I made it and the views were well worth it. Highly recommend the longer John Muir trail down as scrambling down those steps with the crowds coming up is a stupid idea. Hike took just under 5 hours total, probably would have been faster with less crowds. The hike is very crowded up to Vernal Falls, most people turn back there though.

hiking
muddy
rocky
2 days ago

This trail is deemed as “difficult”... “hard”, it is both, but this makes my third time doing this hike and i absolutely always see mostly novice hikers on this trail. My last trek on the Mist Trail was just the other day May 19th and i actually saw a guy in flip flops. Just for the mere safety aspect, I wish they would have a park ranger at the bottom stopping people who are ill prepared for walking on water and mud soaked granite in flip flops. There are several parts of this trail where you have maybe six inches of ground next to a sheer cliff, one wrong move and you are history! The views are spectacular and the spray from Vernal Falls is constantly spraying all over you... so prepare to get very wet on this hike. I highly recommend this trail if you are up for some extremely steep hills and breathtaking views... but be prepared for the danger of getting there!

hiking
2 days ago

This trail was more strenuous than I was prepared for! But the views and sense of accomplishment were worth the effort. Coming back down via the JMT was a safer option, especially given the crowds and narrow slick steps of the Mist Trail. Unfortunately there are those who treat it as a race and jeopardize the safety of those going slower. The waterfalls are so full right now...it’s snowed the last 3 days we’ve been here (in late May!) so I imagine they’ll be full and flowing longer than usual.

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful hike with a great diversity of views. Took us (novice hikers in our 30s) about 5 hours with a 30 min stop at top. Did it in early May and the falls were rushing. The mist trail is, not surprisingly, very wet in spots. Waterproof jacket and waterproof boots are handy. Make sure you allow a good hour at the top. If it’s a sunny day, you’ll happily sit in the rock, have some lunch and enjoy the views. The John Muir Trail was about a foot deep in water in one spot, but easy down other than that. We got to the trailhead at about 830am and it was started to get busy. The earlier the better.

5 days ago

wonderful hike. great scenery all the way. go in spring when waterfalls are raging but bring layers. you'll get wet. bring water and snacks.

hiking
rocky
scramble
washed out
5 days ago

We hiked the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls before taking the route back from Clark point (cutting off Nevada Falls). We saved this for a rainy day knowing that we would get soaked regardless! It was a very wet walk but really good fun scrambling up the soaking rocks. Parts are quite steep and the rain made it quite a difficult hike but even with low lying clouds the views were worth it. On the route down again we were overtaken by a man (read: cowboy) leading six horses down which added to the magic!

hiking
6 days ago

Difficult, but well worth it. Gorgeous views that only Yosemite has to offer.

hiking
7 days ago

After Vernal the crowd thins out a bit. Stunning views and a good adventure day.

hiking
7 days ago

It was a fun hike with lots of challenging climbs. Since the weather in California is very wet right now (rain and snowing) there were a lot of wet spots during the hike.

hiking
10 days ago

Very hard for beginners but achievable it’s basically a rocky stair case to the top but it’s so worth it! (Also you will probably get soaked in water from the mist so bring a rain poncho and song wear you favorite shoes)

hiking
11 days ago

It took us the better part of the day since we can’t walk as fast when we were younger, but I would love to go again! All the other reviews are true, well worth the hike. Beautiful views no matter which way you go. We did the loop to Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail. Very crowded trail.

hiking
11 days ago

It was a worthwhile and challenging way to the waterfalls. The disappearing perspectives of the views of the falls are terrific! We went up over the Nevada case and went down over the Vernal case. In both ways one gets wet, but it was in sports, or outdoor clothing absolutely feasible and great fun! Almost a must to hike this trail here.

hiking
11 days ago

It was a great hike! Prepare to be wet, like completely unless you have full waterproof clothing on but it is well worth it. Both waterfalls are stunning. The beginning of the hike is uber crowded but it gets better. We started at about 10 am.

hiking
11 days ago

Great hike. you do Definately get wet going up to Vernal falls, alot of stairs

hiking
11 days ago

I thoroughly enjoyed this trail especially getting soaked going up the side of Vernal Falls. The rainbows were amazing. Definitely worth going to the top of Nevada Falls. The water flow off Nevada was spectacular - I took some great videos. Prepare to get soaked coming back via the John Muir trail there is a short stretch where Where water is running off into the trail step carefully - bring your slicker or waterproof hiking clothes. Lots of great views of the valley. You can see upper and lower Yosemite Falls. Take the time to look and take some good pictures.

hiking
12 days ago

great views! Very wet, keeps you nice and cool. It is a difficult climb for beginners, but perfect for regular hikers! overall a really nice hike!

walking
13 days ago

Amazing views and a perfect half day hike no matter morning or evening. It opens up a lot more after Vernal falls and liked that more...but the "mist" experience is a must!

13 days ago

Tough trail as everyone states but actually fun and challenging! you will get wet but if you are prepared it's no big deal.

hiking
13 days ago

Great trail to see two amazing waterfalls! You will get very wet, not just on the way up. After passing Nevada Falls, on the way down, you’ll walk under another waterfall. Don’t forget to look back when walking up the steps on the Mist trail, the rainbows are stunning!

14 days ago

Wet but worth it, there's a waterfall that's falling into the trail just past Nevada falls at the moment, not sure how long it will be there but make sure you have waterproofs!

loved this hike! Make sure to wear rain gear going up!We got soaked, but it was wonderful, falls very full of water. John Muir trail was also fun. water covered some of the trail, we took off our boots and socks and waded thru under a bit of water run off. loved it! And we are 70!

hiking
15 days ago

Great trail, amazing views. You get wet a lot, so bring a raincoat.

hiking
15 days ago

Boy oh boy oh boy

hiking
15 days ago

We did this trail early this morning and it was fantastic. I suggest being on the mountain by 7:30 am to beat the crowds. Don’t be deceived by the top of Vernal as a lot of people stop here but if you can muster more energy it is absolutely worth going to the top of Nevada. You’ll also hit a gorgeous mist trail descending from Nevada. Highly recommend!

hiking
muddy
17 days ago

Awesome hike, took us about 4hrs round trip. We started on the Nevada Falls and came down the Vernal Falls, it was beautiful but be prepared to get wet. Amazing views and waterfalls.

hiking
18 days ago

Strenuous and worth it! I hiked this at the end of April and the temps were in the 70’s and 80’s so the falls were epic! One of my favorite all time hikes. Slippery in the higher elevation due to the spray from the millions of gallons of water that fall and spray. Not dog friendly and be fit enough to handle it. If you only make it to the bridge - it still is not disappointing- however reaching the top is worth the exhaustion. Plenty of rock to rest on!

18 days ago

Absolutely gorgeous! strenuous, but the views are well worth it.

hiking
20 days ago

Just amazing. I can’t wait to do it again

hiking
20 days ago

Best hike I’ve ever been on! Make sure to bring waterproof hiking boots (not sneakers) and a rain jacket/poncho. This trail is extremely difficult; the first half of the entire trail is almost exclusively straight up over mixed (including very wet) terrain. Any strife is well worth the views!

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