Outbound Collective logo

Hiking / Snowshoeing to Vernal Fall in Winter

Yosemite Valley, California



2.4 miles

Elevation Gain

1000 ft

Route Type



Added by Basak Prince

Explore Yosemite National Park as a winter wonderland. It is the park's quietest season, and the snow-covered scenery is beautiful.

Of Yosemite's many waterfalls, Vernal Fall has the most scenic route of all.

The trailhead starts at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley, which is also shuttle stop #16. Depending on the weather conditions, the paved trail most likely to be covered in snow and most areas of the trail will be very icy. The first mile of the trail will be very uphill so take your time, enjoy the epic scenery covered in snow and try to stay away from the edges.

After the one-mile uphill, you will reach the Vernal Fall footbridge where you can view the roaring Vernal Fall from a distance. This will be a good time to rest and fuel up on snacks.

From this point on you can either turn back or follow the Mist Trail that proceeds directly to the top of Vernal Fall. In order to reach to the top of the Vernal Fall you need climb up a granite stairway of over 600 steps. This climb will be very slippery since it will be covered in snow and ice, therefore be very cautious when climbing. The scenery along the grand stairs will be breathtaking and most likely you will be sprayed from the waterfall so make sure that you have a waterproof jacket on. When you reach the top you can view the spectacular 317-foot Vernal Fall straight down.

Depending on the weather and trail conditions you can continue up towards Nevada Falls or head back the way you came up and start your descent back to the trailhead.

Please note that walking down the trail will not be easy since the snow and ice will make the trail very slippery; therefore, you will require good amount of energy to go down. Also, if you are up for it, you can also slide down the trail on a sled or on your bottom that will make a fun ending.

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app


Family Friendly


Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Mist Trail to Vernal Falls

Panorama Trail

Little Yosemite Valley Campsite and Half Dome

Vernal & Nevada Falls via Happy Isles

Half Dome via the Mist Trail

Thru-Hike the John Muir Trail