Hiking to Vernal & Nevada Falls

7 Miles Round Trip - Out-and-Back Trail

Vernal Falls Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Kristina Zhylenkova

Take in unforgettable views of Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, and the back of Half Dome. This hike can be modified: you can hike to the top of Vernal Fall or keep going to the top of Nevada Fall. The best time to visit is spring/early summer when the waterfalls are at their peak flow. 

This popular hike starts near Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The first mile of the trail is paved and almost entirely uphill. You will come to the footbridge which tends to be very crowded. About 0.2 miles beyond the footbridge, the Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail diverge. Follow the Mist Trail 0.5 miles up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps directly to the top of Vernal Fall. Use caution on this part of the trail. The stairs can become dangerously slippery. Prepare for slippery footing and a tremendous amount of waterfall spray, especially in spring and early summer. At the top of Vernal Falls, you can get breathtaking views straight down the 317 foot waterfall.

Here you can either choose to turn around and head back the way you came or you can continue up to the next junction which is about 0.2 miles and take the longer route back via the John Muir Trail or continue uphill on the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Falls. Continuing along the Mist Trail, you’ll hike another 1.5 miles of steep, rocky switchbacks in order to reach Nevada Fall. At the top of the trail, head right to reach the footbridge that crosses the Merced River above the waterfall.

From this point, you can either return down the Mist Trail, or continue over the bridge to the John Muir Trail for an alternate route back down. If you choose the John Muir Trail, you will enjoy views of Liberty Cap, the back of Half Dome, and a different view of Nevada Falls all in the same frame. The John Muir Trail is longer, about 4 miles one way compared to the Mist Trail, which is 2.5 miles so plan accordingly.

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Family Friendly
Scenic
Waterfall

Details

7 Miles
Out-and-Back Trail

Stay Nearby

Yosemite Valley, California

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Nearby Adventures

Hike the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls in Yosemite NP

2.4 Miles Round Trip - 1000 ft gain

Hike Half Dome via the Mist Trail

14.2 Miles Round Trip - 4800 ft gain

Thru-Hike the John Muir Trail

211 Miles Round Trip - 45000 ft gain

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Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Perfect day hike

I haven't done too many longer hikes in Yosemite aside from this one so I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I personally thought this hike was amazing and well worth the crowded trail (definitely start early if you want to enjoy the hike up to Nevada Falls). The part of the trail where it's basically rock steps near Vernal Falls was slammed with people when we were there, probably because I stopped too many times to take photos coming up, but it's still worth every minute. Definitely take the JMT on the way down.

The BEST trail.

I've been hiking this trail since I was 6 years old with my family. Still each year when I visit Yosemite, it's a must-do. Great adventure post, thanks!

Perfect Day Hike

This is a great day hike option for anyone staying in the valley. As the other reviews suggest, I would highly recommend starting early to avoid the crowds. I would recommend getting to Nevada Falls early and lounging around to eat a snack, or lunch. There is plenty to see around both falls so take your time before heading back down. I also suggest ensuring your shoes or boots have good traction.