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Mist Trail to Vernal Falls

Yosemite Valley, California

based on 10 reviews



3.11 miles

Elevation Gain

1319 ft

Route Type



Added by Brynn Schmidt

Mist Trail to Vernal Falls is an awesome hike to do in the Yosemite Valley because of the incredible surrounding beauty, easy access, and ability to get to the top of a waterfall in a short period of time. 

This is one of the most epic short hikes that you can do in Yosemite. Highly recommend it for anyone staying in the valley or visiting with enough time for a 2-3 hour hike. While the distance isn't long, you will stop a lot along the way to take in the beauty and also spend time at the top of the falls.

The hike starts from Happy Isles (shuttle stop #16).  You can also hike from Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) and add about 1 1/2 - 2 miles round trip to your hike along an easy paved trail. The actual trailhead is very easy to find and the route takes you up one and a half miles with an elevation gain of over 1,000 feet. While this is not a long hike, it is intense since the distance is short for that much elevation gain. It is fairly straight up. However, by the time you have completed the hike up, you will have experienced some unparalleled beauty, a raging waterfall in a lush green setting, mist covering you along parts of the trail and possibly a rainbow from the spray of the falls.

This hike starts out very accessible, paved and is a fairly easy to moderate hike for anyone up to the Vernal Falls Footbridge. The footbridge provides great views of the falls. Even if you don't feel like you can make it to the top, it is the worth the hike to the lower bridge. However, do your best to push on as the experience to come is so worth it and the best part of the hike. The trail gets a little less accessible after the bridge and as you near the top, you are following a path of stone steps up the edge of the mountain. There are railings in the sketchy places and the steps aren't bad at all. The hardest part can actually be coming down the steep rock steps where they are wet and can be slippery where the mist sprays. The National Park System has done an amazing job creating such a complex upper trail to the top of the falls. 

The top of Vernal Falls provides amazing views of the Yosemite Valley as well as the upper falls. Another great thing about this trail is that you hike along the John Muir Trail  for part of the hike and it is a fun experience to see the trail signs and the mileage to Half Dome, Tuolumne Meadows and other stops. For the more advanced hiker or one with more time, continue on the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Falls. Give yourself more time for this portion of the hike. 

There are bathrooms at the Vernal Falls Footbridge and also drinking fountains to fill up your water bottles.

Please remember that in spring and summer this waterfall and river are raging. Do not attempt to ever wade in to the river as the water is running at a fast pace and people have died here by not paying attention to the rules. Also, respect the lush cliffs and fields and do not attempt to climb on them.

If you think you'll have more energy, check out this adventure that continues to Nevada Falls.

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Mist Trail to Vernal Falls Reviews

This was the very first trail that I did in Yosemite, so I am kinda biased to say that it is simply amazing! It is rather easy and not too strenious and while there were a lot of people on the trail it didn't feel too crowded (then again maybe this has to do with the specific date and time of visit...). Overall both the falls and the surrounding scenery are spectacular!

Such a great hike. The waterfalls are beautiful to see!

We just went on a fall Sunday and it was a great hike. Determined kids can do it no problem with lots of motivational snacks. Great views. Can’t imagine doing this hike during peak season. It would be WAY too crowded.

If you don't have much time in the park this is the Hike you should do. Fairly easy but so beautiful. Ton of crowds but hey it's Yosemite. Love the waterfall!

Vernal Falls is roaring right now! You will get wet for sure compared to past years. Definitely worth it for the adventurous person

Leave No Trace

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


Vernal Fall Foot Bridge Trail via Mist and John Muir Trail

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