The Mist Trail to Vernal falls

One of the most iconic experiences in Yosemite National Park the Mist trail to Vernal and Nevada falls is a cant miss adventure when visiting. This hike is rated steneous and there are some visitors who may not be able to to the entire journey, but if able it should be on everyones bucket list.

The hike starts on the Eastern Edge of the valley at Happy Isles Bridge where the Merced River enters the flats of the valley floor. The trail is well traveled and almost immediately gives visitors a clue that this hike will require a solid effort as you hike up to the Viewing bridge along the Merced River cascading below.

Most visitors make it to the viewing bridge and get their first glimpse of Vernal Falls. For some this is where their journey ends, but for others the venture up into the Mist trail will change their view of Yosemite for ever.

The mist trail is a often wet experience that will provides a heavy mist from the waterfall in spring and early summer making the climb up a staircase of boulders very slippery and an experience like no other in the park. the mist trail climbs steeply along the banks and concludes with a final 50 yards up along the cliff edge of Vernal Falls to the viewing deck above.

Emerald Pools

Emerald Pool and Liberty Cap yosemite
Emerald Pool and Liberty Cap yosemite

Just past the Viewing Deck of Vernal Falls is the Emerald Pools. a particularly calming location that provides a nice picnic location and rest spot before heading upto Nevada Fall. Emerald pools may look inviting to swim in but it is considered unsafe and has no swimming signs posted. The water rather quickly exits the pools straight into Vernal Fall.

Just above Emerald pools is a wooden bridge crossing over the Merced in carved out little canyon that shoots the water through into a granite water slide feature. Continuing a bit further you are greeted with a great viewing area of he base of Nevada Fall.

Nevada Fall

Nevada Fall is a gorgeous towering waterfall that will surprise many visitors . The climb to the top of Nevada Fall is strenuous but so worth it. Climbing a set of switch backs along the side of the fall up a canyon to meet up with the JMT, this section of the hike will break you if you are not in shape. stopping frequently and remembering water is important to complete this section safely. The top of this section meets up with the JMT section that will take you to half dome as well.

The Top of Nevada Fall brings you right to the edge with fantastic scenic views of the canyon leading into Yosemite valley,

A JMT return and Clark Point

Once you spend your desired time and rest at the top of Nevada Fall, Continue on the JMT across the Merced and follow the trail down to the junction back to Vernal falls. At this point we recommend heading back down to Vernal falls to Clark Point for one of the best photo and video locations of Vernal falls.

From here you can climb back up to JMT and continue the loop back to the Valley or continue down to Vernal Falls and do the slippery Mist trail backwards (Hint: The JMT section is less crowded route, but not necessarily easier as it is also has steep sections.



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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