mist trail to vernal falls
Yosemite national park, ca
mist trail to vernal falls
Distance: 2.8 miles to top of Vernal Falls roundtrip (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 1,024 feet to top of Vernal Falls
Seasonality: March - November (click here for season restrictions)
Trailhead: John Muir Vernal Falls Trailhead at Yosemite Valley’s Happy Isles (shuttle stop #16)
Parking: Park anywhere in Yosemite Valley and use the shuttle system to get off on stop #16.
Facilities: Flush toilets and potable water available at the Happy Isles, at the Vernal Falls footbridge, and at the top of Vernal Falls.
The Mist Trail to Vernal Falls is a very popular hike in the Valley and the first mile is a long trek uphill. The trail is paved up to the Vernal Falls footbridge. Many visitors will stop at the footbridge to take in the views of the falls, others will hike up about a mile further of mostly stone steps for a good vantage point of the falls that will soak you with mist, and others make that extra half mile up the steep side of the falls to stand on top of Vernal Falls and watch the water vigorously flow down to the Valley. Regardless of how far you choose to hike this trail, you will be rewarded with views of the falls and the granite surrounding you.
If you get adventurous, you can go another half mile (500 feet elevation gain) from the top of Vernal Falls to Clark Point - a great place to see a bird’s eye view of Vernal Falls, and get a first glimpse of Nevada Falls.
Trip Planner Details:
This hike is located in the eastern part of Yosemite Valley and is most easily accessed by shuttle. You will want to get off at the Happy Isles shuttle stop #16 and walk across the Happy Isles footbridge to turn right onto the John Muir Vernal Falls trail. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Do not rely on the toilets and potable water at the Vernal Falls footbridge as that is sometimes shut down during the season. The closest parking is near the Upper Pines campground; however, it is easy to park any place you can find in the Valley and take a shuttle.
There is a park entrance fee of $35 to enter Yosemite National Park. For more information about what else you can do in the park, visit the Yosemite National Park website.
When You Do Your Research:
Keep in mind that you can alter this hike to match your abilities. It is approximately 1.6 miles to the Vernal Falls Footbridge and you gain 449 feet of elevation. Children, and parents with strollers will be able to navigate the trail as it is all paved to the footbridge. You will work up a sweat, however, and you should bring plenty of water and snacks.
If you want to see a bit more of the falls without hiking to the very top, there is a good vantage point approximately 1.2 miles (205 feet elevation gain) past the footbridge where you can get an up close look of the falls from underneath.
Tips From One Who Hiked It:
Vernal Falls always seems to have at least a little bit of water flowing from it year-round. The best time to see heavy falls is in late spring and early summer. Bring a change of shirt because at peak periods when the water is really flowing, you will get a heavy mist that will soak your shirt. Beware of this in the later season with cooler temperatures.