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Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Panorama Trail

HARD 168 reviews
#11 of 230 trails in

Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Panorama Trail is a 9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Buena Vista, 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 May until October.

DISTANCE
9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
977 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

A mostly-downhill hike with views of Half Dome, Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, Yosemite Falls and the Yosemite Valley. There is no better hike in Yosemite National Park which offers the amazing views of Half Dome, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Illilouette Fall, Yosemite Fall, and the entire Valley than the Panorama Trail. This hike will take you on an adventure from Glacier Point, high above the valley, down to the Mist Trail where you will hike next to both Nevada and Vernal Falls. The hike ends near Curry Village where you can grab a bite to eat or take the free shuttle to anywhere in the park. While this hike loses 2,800ft in elevation, it is not an easy hike; some would even rate it as strenuous. After the initial climb down to Illilouette Fall you will hike back up 800ft of steep switchbacks before hiking down the same distance immediately after. The Mist Trail can be especially tough on the knees, especially the section from the top of Nevada Fall to Vernal Fall, which is almost exclusively made up of small stone steps. But don't let that discourage you, the views of the Falls, the Valley, and the surrounding area more than make up for the aches and pains you may keep with you the next few days.

hiking
2 months ago

If you have no way to get to Glacier Point to start the Panorama Trail, you can start from the "4 Mile Trail" but beware of the steep uphill dizzying switchbacks and the kids who like to run down the switch backs! Once you get to the top, you can rest at Glacier Point then take the Panorama Trail down hill for the most part. There's only a short section where you climb then it's downhill again. Take the John Muir Trail (behind Nevada Falls) even though sections of it are paved (or used to be paved) it's much easier on downhill knees than the Mist Trail (Vernal Falls).

3 months ago

This hike never disappoints! Hiked this again July 2018. Glacier point to the valley floor. So far, this is my favorite of all time.

4 months ago

I’m not sure I’m reporting on the correct trail. I did a loop starting from the Myst Trail. Once you get by all the tourist on the paved portion of the trail, you can either go up the mist Trail or take the Muir trail to your right. I say start on the Muir trail and go counterclockwise and descend on the Myst Trail. The reason, there is less people going counterclockwise and the hike is more comfortable and less rocky.

On the Myst Trail you are essentially climbing stairs a large portion of the trail and there’s tons of people. The mist Trail has really narrow steep portions which isn’t comfortable when there’s a lot of people on the trail. For those not prepared for this type of hike, you come across groups sitting on the stairs huffing, without water, which you have to navigate. If you love stair climbing, start with the Myst Trail.

The entire trail is breathtaking. The waterfalls are so enjoyable. There was still a little ice at the top in November.

On the way down on the mist Trail, I came across a bear Around 330 4:00 PM. It was a juvenile bear. It could actually care less about me however since I was hiking by myself, it kind of gave me a startle. Please make sure you read about the bear policy and how to handle the situation if you come across to bear.

I would do the trail over and over again. So scenic and you see half dome to your left. Bring lots of water and snacks and enjoy yourself.

hiking
4 months ago

Love this hike. Great views.

5 months ago

Beautiful scenery. I took the Mist trail and my toe fingers were killing me when I ended this trail.

hiking
5 months ago

This is mostly a fantastic hike, I was lucky enough to get a ride up Glacier Point, from there, it was 2 miles down a mostly sun drenched trail (sun block up before starting) with few small rocky section. This part of the trail will offer you spectacular shots of half dome, but also SE parts of the park that you don't normally see.

After this, you do few small switch back into small forested area that also has a bridge across Illilouette Creek. Being early fall, it was trickle of water and easily could forded. I sat down for small lunch for about 15 minutes before heading up into the section of the hike where you traverse upwards for the next miles. While uphill, this is still a good well maintained section of the trail and won't cause much in the way of hurt to you. It's mostly dirt, but does have some rockier sections then first 2 miles. It's semi forested, so your views will come and go, but again this a very pleasant section of the trail to hike.

Nevada Falls is of course a great view too and you can now look down the slot (per say) back to the valley too. It also get's a lot more crowded with hikers having come up the falls rout. I had the second part of my lunch here and took in the views for maybe another 30 minutes. I wasn't really looking forward to the next section as I'm old and fat.

I couldn't find the Muir Trail (winter trail) and found myself having to take the Myst trail instead. The next 2.5 miles are almost all on either granite stairs, or worse, granite rocks. Granite as a whole isn't so good on your feet, knee's or pelvis, and when it proper stairs, it's easy slip on, so for this section I used poles. I still ended up on my ass twice in the broken granite sections. Ugh. For the stair sections, they can drop quite a bit and will really give you knee's something to scream about. Remember, you're dropping (or climbing up) about 2000' over 2 miles, so it's steep and kind of unforgiving. The section immediately down from Vernal is all deep stairs and not very wide, so you're also going to have deal with lots of hikers in this section too.

The last milish was standard trail again as you make your way back into the valley. For this time of the year though, you should bring some mosquito spray, otherwise you'll be blood sucked (like I was).

If you haven't done this hike, you should. Ya, even if you're old or fat like me. If i can do it, so can you. Just give yourself more time and bring along enough water and Ibuprofen and you'll be fine.

5 months ago

I recommend the Muir trail vs the Mist trail. The stairs are killer

hiking
6 months ago

Hiked from the Valley floor up to Glacier Point to the falls and into Half Dome Village. About a 16 mile hike. The views were spectacular. Hiked on 9/16/18.

hiking
7 months ago

Go during the spring when the waterfalls are massive! Can be a very crowded hike on the weekends

hiking
8 months ago

My wife and I hiked this trail in reverse from Glacier Point to Nevada Falls in July 2018. The Panorama Trail provides you with magnificent views along the entire trail. Be sure to bring extra water in the summer months, but if you have a filter, then there will be locations to refill bottles or bladders along the way. Bring some trekking poles as the switchbacks from Glacier down to illilouette falls is littered with large rocks and some sharp drop offs. I advise taking the reverse route as in and back, because you get some great early morning shots of Half Dome and all the falls, but in the evening when you return, you can watch the sun set on the face of Half Dome from glacier point. It will make for a very long day, but it's definitely worth the work. The trail is moderately trafficked, so be prepared to pass or be passed by other hikers, and expect to see others at the falls when arriving. There is an area between Nevada falls and Illilouette falls with some very large boulders that make for a great photo opportunity, so bring a camera! Have Fun

hiking
9 months ago

Fantastic hike with ever changing vistas. Left at about 830 AM on July 11th from Glacier Point Panoramic trailhead in summer and finished by 230 to the valley via Nevada and Vernal falls and the Mist trail. Stopped numerous times for photos and lunch at Nevada falls.

LOVED the first 6 miles during which our lizard count to other people count was 65 to 7. After Nevada falls this ratio flipped as people way outnumbered lizards and trails became very crowded. The downhill out of Nevada and the Vernal steps is a knee killer w painstaking foot placement required.

Besides the last 2 miles of knee pain and crowded trail down to the valley (which is expected in summer) this was absolutely amazing hike great vistas of Half Dome and El Capitan and numerous waterfalls..

hiking
9 months ago

Out of all the times I've been and hiked to Yosemite, this trail was the most spectacular view wise. Multiple angles of the park from the high sierra to the valley had me blown away. Even with it being 90+ degrees, this hike was worth it from beginning to end. Will never forget my experience and encourage everyone to do this hike.

hiking
9 months ago

11

hiking
9 months ago

After reading some of the reviews here I decided to include this with the Four Mile Trail and do this as a loop. I parked my car at the Half Dome Village (as close as I could get it to The Mist Trail which I would be using as an exit). I then hiked 2.2 miles back to the entrance of the Four Mile Trail and proceeded up that 4.6 miles to Glacier Point. Epic views of Yosemite Falls the whole way. I then hopped on the Panorama Trail and took that 5 miles to Nevada Falls where it junctions with The Mist Trail. The view coming down from Glacier Point is absolutely incredible. You can see all the way across the valley and the path you will be taking to Vernal and Nevada Falls. One of the things that sold me on doing this loop was that I read that the Panorama Trail was mostly all downhill. There is actually a 1.5 mile stretch right after Illilouette Falls that goes uphill that had me huffing and puffing. 3.2 more miles down The Mist Trail..those waterfalls are amazing. And then a 1 mile zombie walk back to my car. Best hike I've ever done!! 16 miles altogether. Took me 7 hours.

9 months ago

We did this trail two days ago, went up to Nevada Falls and then came back around on the John Muir trail. One of my favorite hikes! It's really crowded in the beginning, but after Vernal fall's it's way less people. We started around two and we're done by seven. This is my fourth time doing this hike. The two waterfalls are spectacular!

hiking
10 months ago

I ended up doing this fragmented, starting from bottom, and eventually being from glacier point. I think it can be worth doing the whole thing from the valley, giving you a great view of halfdome, and feeling like you deserve it (instead of driving there). Plus, it takes a while to drive there, so you won't lose so much time, especially if the parking is full and you have to wait an extra 2 hours like I had....

10 months ago

Hiked from glacier point to Nevada Falls and then hiked all the way back. Let me tell you, YOU NEED ALOT OF WATER. Your legs will hurt so take those hiking sticks with you. I had to take a couple of breaks because of the incline. Overall great trail, but you must start hiking early. I started around 11, and finished about 6pm.

11 months ago

So is 9 mil round trip or 9 mil one way!!? And how long is takes to complete the hike?

hiking
Monday, April 16, 2018

Sublime! Besides the awesome views, mist, and enormity of experience from such perspectives as are offered on this route, it was a treat to finally see the enormous bird that we heard for at least a half-hour making an odd fog horn-like noise: a blue grouse!

hiking
Thursday, March 08, 2018

Awesome trail I've been able to do a couple of times...

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Amazing when waterfalls are maxed

Thursday, November 16, 2017

some spectacular views of the yosemite valley. I hiked from glacier point to Nevada falls and back up to glacier point. 2nd day, hiked sentinel dome. I will do it again.

hiking
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

By far my favorite hike I have done in Yosemite from glacier point down to illohoutte falls cross a bridge upside of another mountain then down to Nevada and then vernal falls and back to the valley .. amazing views the whole entire time

hiking
Friday, November 03, 2017

Hiked this WED, JUL 20, 2016 then back up to the start by way of the Four Mile Trail. Best day of hiking in my life. This trail is ranked #1 in my books. Beautiful! I can't wait to do it again!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Great Views of Yosemite Valley! We'll work the 8.5miles to the top of Glacier Point!

hiking
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Took this trail on the way down from glacier point after taking the four-mile trail up. The views are amazing and it's a great hike! Challenging by the waterfall but so pretty!

hiking
Monday, August 28, 2017

Intense hike with breath taking views. Took me 6hrs for the round trip.

Friday, August 18, 2017

One of my favorites at Yosemite!

hiking
Sunday, July 09, 2017

This is an AMAZING hike. I did it in the opposite direction--from the valley floor up to Glacier Point, and then came down the 4-mile trail. The whole 14-mile haul was quite strenuous, but the views were incredible.

The beginning of the hike (near Vernal Falls, especially) is packed with people--but the mist from the waterfalls keeps you cool going up, and the falls are well worth seeing despite the crowds. Once you get past Nevada Falls (heading towards Glacier Point) the crowds thin out substantially. You've also done a substantial portion of the uphill by that point, though past Nevada Falls there's a switchbacking climb, a bit of downhill to hit Illilouette Falls, and then a final uphill push from the falls to Glacier Point. (The last uphill mile felt really tough. I don't think it's actually that steep at that point, but the trail there is sunny and I'd been hiking for a while.) The views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley along this trail were awesome. Highly recommended, but pack lots of water and snacks. I had a great summit picnic just before Glacier Point!

hiking
Sunday, July 09, 2017

Really good hike. Just the the overview reads up top - phenomenal views. Poor CA air quality can ruin some otherwise great photo opportunities. I started my hike at 0600 sharp and ran into a doe after the first switchback less than a 1/4 mile down the trail. Just prior to Illilouette Fall ran into a big Black Bear (rocking the summer coat no doubt) on the trail itself. Went for about another 1/2 mile up and it felt like uphill switchbacks so decided to head back to the truck. Getting back up there about 0930-10 and the parking lot was beyond packed. If you plan on doing this hike highly recommend you start early and bring a buddy (or some bear mace).

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