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Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

HARD 2192 reviews
#1 of 245 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 is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 8.8 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
rocky
scramble
1 day 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
5 days 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
6 days ago

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

hiking
8 days 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.

hiking
13 days ago

Awesome and beautiful hike, not nearly as extreme as stated. Two waterfalls are visible in November. It’s approx 2800 vertical 7.5 Miles, but plenty of shade if you go early. Suggest to go early to avoid the masses at Vernal. To avoid masses on way down take Yosemite valley trail. Enjoy !!

hiking
14 days ago

This is an absolutely wonderful hike! Highly recommended in the spring when the waterfalls are full. Be prepared to get wet though, as you make it soaked towards the end the hike to Vernal Falls. The switchbacks up to Nevada Falls can be challenging, but it's worth it. I also highly recommend that you start this hike early to avoid the crowds of people going up the Mist Trail.

hiking
17 days ago

The trailhead advises you take the winter trail up instead due to maintenance on the mist trail. We saw many others continuing forward through despite this and followed. There aren't any indicators of danger. Great hike with gorgeous views of the falls and a chance go eat a nice meal at the very top.

hiking
rocky
19 days ago

Challenging trail but very doable. We are 54 and 55 years old -experienced hikers and found it strenuous but very manageable. There are beautiful views throughout the trail as you are so close to Half Dome the entire hike. When you get to the first fall we stopped and ate lunch on rocks in the middle of the river before heading up to Nevada Falls. At the top of Nevada Falls there is a sign that says trail closed (because they were doing some work on one of the bridges up there, but the bridge was completely functional and you could walk on it) but nobody really listened to it and went beyond the sign so that you can see the top of the falls. It was gorgeous and completely worth doing.

The loop is a must. At the end it connects to the John Muir trail which has more direct Mountain View’s. This hike is a butt kicker for sure but 100% worth it.

hiking
bridge out
rocky
21 days ago

Very nice trail, but go early! As early as you can. We started at 08:30 hrs on a Saturday (avoid weekends if possible) and at the end (downhill) it was very very busy. We did the route clockwise and you’ll do the same if you like your knees. Yes, there were some steep climbs, but not that hard if you do it in your own pace. Views at the top of Nevada Falls are spectacular. Do this trail, but don’t do it the weekend or the holiday period ;)

Great trail with spectacular views. Can be a bit crowded at spots.

hiking
bridge out
scramble
22 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

First mile is paved path until you reach a bridge crossing a river where there is a bathroom and water filling station. As you approach vernal falls the terrain becomes very lush and green with large rocks and water. Basically a massive staircase made out of natural rocks in the ground until you reach the top. When you reach the top of Vernal falls it’s a wide open rock space to stop and take a break. Keep walking and there’s a pond/lake that filters down the falls on your left. As you head to Nevada falls flattens for a bit then back to all uphill rocky terrain “steps” Once you reach top another bathroom. Keep going to huge open area at top of falls with amazing views. You can head back down another way for a wide gravely like path or can go back the way you came. Highly recommend going down the way straight ahead NOT turning around to come back where you came from.

hiking
27 days ago

Most definitely go counter clockwise if you want an easier way up. view at the top is fantastic. bring water.

hiking
27 days ago

Steep climb on uneven steps and boulders once you get past the first view of Vernal Falls. Was a popular trail with lots of people hiking it. Decided to take the John Muir trail down from Nevada Falls. A much easier hike. The view is worth the effort!

hiking
28 days ago

Incredible views and well-worth the tough hike up. Very crowded trails, even in mid-October. Next time, depending on the time of year, would recommend taking John Muir trail up and down to Nevada Falls (skipping Vernal Falls) to avoid some of the heaviest crowds.

hiking
28 days ago

Very busy, even during the fall months. Steep incline made a little more challenging by frequent stops to let others pass coming down. You’ll be tired, but HIGHLY recommend making it past the Silver Bridge and continuing up to Nevada falls. Once at the top and have taken in the sights, go all the way across the opposite side from the bathrooms and take the John Muir Trail down! Beautiful change of scenery and much less trafficked.

hiking
30 days ago

Was not sure I wanted to do this trail with it being labeled as hard, but it was so worth the all uphill and stairs. Came down the John Muir trail and enjoyed it too. would recommend doing it that way as the feeling of accomplishment doing the stairs is powerful. Go early is the way to go. We left at 8:30 and so glad we did, 3 hours later the trail was packed.

hiking
30 days ago

Start time: 8:30am A progressive beginning good for warm up leading into the steps taking you to Heavens bliss, Vernal Falls first and then Nevada. The steps to Vernal are clearly defined but show signs of difficulty but the path becomes a bit more rocky to reach the peak. Worth every step but take your time and look up. I completed the full loop, a total of 8 miles. Finish time: 12:15pm

Amazing trail. Much easier if you go right at the loop instead of left. We ran into a ton of people nearly dying from the steps while we were doing great!

hiking
1 month ago

Lots of freakin steps, but well worth the climb.

hiking
1 month ago

My favorite waterfall trail in Yosemite! A MUST! Just an FYI: I didn’t realize this trail was the first half of Cloud’s Rest which I planned on doing the following day. I didn’t want to repeat the same trail, so didn’t end up doing Cloud’s Rest.

hiking
1 month ago

We hiked up to Nevada Falls via Mist Trail ! Beautiful hike with some great views. The way up is very steep and has a lot of stairs. We clocked over 7 miles, just saying.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked Vernal Falls-Nevada Falls-John Muir Trail loop via Mist trail with my son (9 yrs) and wife in Columbus Day weekend. Extremely popular trail so be prepared to share the trail with a lot of people hiking, selfies, photos ops, etc. We carried plenty of water/Gatorade, fruits and snacks to keep us going and managed to complete the entire loop. Make sure you have good shoes with proper fit. My wife got a bruised black toe after long descent in John Muir Trail. The restroom at the beginning of the trail is not working, other than that the trail is very well maintained with magnificent view along the way.

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