Discovering the Beauty of Vernal and Nevada Falls on the Mist Trail
Welcome to the breathtaking world of Yosemite National Park, where nature’s majesty and beauty are on full display. Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite is home to some of the most stunning waterfalls in the world, including the Vernal and Nevada Falls. These magnificent falls are a must-visit destination for any nature lover, adventurer, or photographer. And the best way to experience the grandeur of these waterfalls is to hike the Mist Trail. As you make your way up the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the falls, lush greenery, and the cool mist that sprays your face as you approach the cascading waters. So join me as we embark on a journey of discovery and explore the beauty of Vernal and Nevada Falls on the Mist Trail.
Happy Isles and Vernal Falls Parking and Bus Routes
You can take a free shuttle bus to Happy Isles Nature Center or walk there from Curry Village. Parking in Yosemite Valley after mid-morning can be challenging. We suggest finding a parking area near Curry Village if possible so you can walk to the trailhead, but the shuttle bus in Yosemite does make stops at Happy Isle, so if you are enjoying other areas of the park, feel free to take the shuttle where ever convenient.
Vernal Fall – the First Stop on the Trail
The Mist Trail starts at the Happy Isles trailhead, located near the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. The trail is 3 miles long (roundtrip) to Vernal Fall and 7 miles long (roundtrip) to Nevada Fall. The first stop on the trail is Vernal Fall, which is a 317-foot waterfall. The hike to Vernal Fall is a moderate hike, with a steady uphill climb. However, the view of the waterfall from the footbridge is worth the effort.
Vernal Fall Trail Options
After climbing from Happy Isles Bridge to the Vernal Falls Foot Bridge hikers will be presented with two options for seeing Vernal Falls. The First is to follow the river up to the entrance of the Mist Trail. Nature’s very own Yosemite Style splash zone, the Mist trail is the most popular route up Vernal Falls, but visitors can expect to get wet and should be dressed appropriately in good hiking shoes as this path is steep and slippery. However, the scenic value of this portion of the trial is off the charts. The rushing water of the Merced river and lush landscape have away of helping with the burning that many people feel in their legs making this trip.
The Second option is to follow the John Muir Trail To Clark Point
This path will take a little bit longer route but provide a cleaner trail surface to hike and is preferred by those who may struggle with the slippery larger steps of the mist trail. This section is part of the John Muir trail and will climb the hillside in a moderate pace through the trees and rock of Yosemite. Hikers will reach a junction that takes them down to Clarks Point, a stunning picture location for Vernal Falls, and then down to the Vernal Falls deck for viewing. Some explorers planning on making the trek to Nevada Falls will opt to stay on the JMT here and do Nevada Falls first and loop back to Vernal falls on the return trip,
Once you reach the top of Vernal Fall, you will be treated to a stunning view of the waterfall and the valley below. You can also feel the cool mist from the waterfall, which is a refreshing way to cool down after the hike. From here, you can continue up the Mist Trail to Nevada Fall, which is the ultimate reward for hikers.
The Mist Trail – A Hike to Remember
The Mist Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Yosemite National Park. It is a strenuous hike that takes you up 2,000 feet in elevation gain. The trail is named the Mist Trail because of the mist that rises from the waterfall and sprays hikers as they get closer to the falls.
The hike up the Mist Trail is a bit challenging, but it is also one of the most rewarding hikes in Yosemite. You will be treated to stunning views of the waterfalls, the valley below, and the surrounding mountains. You will also encounter a variety of wildlife along the way, such as squirrels, chipmunks, and birds.
The Mist Trail is a popular hike, so it can get crowded during peak season. It’s best to start early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat of the day. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, but it can be slippery in some areas, so it’s important to wear sturdy hiking shoes and be cautious.
Nevada Fall – The Ultimate Reward
The ultimate reward for hikers on the Mist Trail is Nevada Fall. This 594-foot waterfall is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. The view of the waterfall from the top is breathtaking, and you can feel the power of the water as it cascades down the rocks.
To reach Nevada Fall, you will need to continue up the Mist Trail past Vernal Fall. The hike to Nevada Fall is a bit more challenging than the hike to Vernal Fall, but it’s worth the effort. You will encounter more switchbacks and steep stairs, but the views along the way are spectacular.
Along the way, take a break at the Emerald Pool just beyond Vernal Falls, or head upstream a bit further to the roaring waters of Nevada Fall from the canyons directly below the falls. You will want the break as the next section is a challenging climb, as you will skirt the Waterfall and climb up a canyon to the top of Nevada Fall 600 feet above.
Once you reach the top of Nevada Fall, you can take a break and enjoy the scenery. There are plenty of spots to sit and rest, and you can even have a picnic if you bring food with you. From here, you can continue on the trail to the top of Half Dome, which is one of the most challenging hikes in Yosemite National Park.
Note: The Merced river in the Vernal and Nevada Falls region is not safe to swim in. Visitors should be cautious especially in the early spring and summer months near the waters edge, as one false step or slip could lead to tragedy.
Mist Trail to Nevada Falls Return via John Muir Trail
After enjoying the sights and recovering at the top of Nevada Falls cross the Merced on the foot bridge and head back down the John Muir Trail. The first little bit of this trail will walk you next to a cliff with a nice viewing rail section back at Nevada Fall and Liberty Cap Peak, In the Spring and Early summer this zone is also very wet, with a seasonal waterfall falling off the cliff above directly on the hikers below. Rain Ponchos are definitely recommended, but in the Yosemite afternoon heat it is also a great cool down. The rocks are very slippery, however so running should be cautioned in this section.
What about going down the Mist Trail the way you came up?
It is not recommended to go down the Mist trail in reverse. The section from the Top of Vernal Fall back to the Footbridge can be very slippery, Most traffic will be going up in this area, so it is advised to travel back via the JMT.
Tips for Hiking the Mist Trail
Hiking the Mist Trail can be a bit challenging, but it’s a rewarding experience that is worth the effort. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your hike:
– Start early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat of the day.
– Wear sturdy hiking shoes with good traction.
– Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energized.
– Wear layers, as the temperature can change quickly in the mountains.
– Bring a camera to capture the stunning views along the way.
– Be respectful of the environment and wildlife. Bears can be seen on this trail at times, keep your distance and let the bear travel peacefully.
Best Time of Year to Hike the Mist Trail
The Mist Trail is generally open year-round, but the best time to hike the trail is from May to October. During this time, the weather is mild, and the waterfalls are at their peak flow. However, the trail can get crowded during peak season, so it’s best to start early in the morning.
If you’re an experienced hiker, you can also hike the trail during the winter months. The trail is less crowded during this time, and the snow-covered landscape is beautiful. However, the trail can be more challenging during the winter months, so it’s important to be prepared and have the right gear.
What to Bring on Your Hike
When hiking the Mist Trail, it’s important to be prepared and have the right gear. Here are some essentials to bring on your hike:
– Sturdy hiking shoes with good traction
– Water bottle or hydration pack
– Snacks and energy bars
– Layers of clothing
– Sunscreen and sunglasses
– Insect repellent
– First aid kit
– Camera or smartphone
Other Hikes in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most stunning hikes in the world. If you’re looking for other hikes to explore in the park, here are some recommendations:
- Half Dome Hike
- Glacier Point Hike
- Yosemite Falls Hike
- Mariposa Grove Hike
- Tuolumne Meadows Hiking provides multiple options
- Clouds Rest Hike
- Hetch Hetchy to Wapama Falls Hike
Each of these hikes offers a unique experience and stunning views of the park. However, being prepared and having the right gear for each hike is important.
How long does it take to hike the Mist Trail?
Hiking rates vary based on your pace and condition, But a seven-mile round-trip hike with plenty of photo stops and rest stops will take an average hiker approx. 3-4 hours. Personally, id plan a full half day for this trip so I had plenty of time just to sit and soak in the beauty.
Experience the Beauty of Vernal and Nevada Falls on the Mist Trail
The Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park is a breathtaking hike that offers stunning views of Vernal and Nevada Falls. It’s a challenging hike, but it’s a rewarding experience that is worth the effort. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventurer, or photographer, the Mist Trail is a must-visit destination in Yosemite National Park. So pack your bags, grab your hiking shoes, and embark on a journey of discovery to experience the beauty of Vernal and Nevada Falls on the Mist Trail.