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

Curry Village

From $90/night

Yosemite Valley, California

Housekeeping Camp

From $108/night

Yosemite Valley, California

The Ahwahnee

From $386/night

9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive

Yosemite Valley Lodge

From $219/night

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

More Nearby Adventures

Tours

More Tours

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Probably the most classic Yosemite hike after Lower Yosemite Falls. Be prepared to deal with crowds if you go in the middle of the day. I'd definitely recommend tackling this as early as possible to potentially avoid some traffic jams on the Mist Trail.

Watch out for the squirrels they'll steal your food before you even notice! Such beautiful views!