Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How To Hike Vernal And Nevada Falls In Yosemite – Mist Trail Hike


Modified: September 26, 2023

by Winonah Stocks



Welcome to one of the most breathtaking hikes in Yosemite National Park – the Mist Trail. This iconic trail takes you on a thrilling journey to two stunning waterfalls – Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. As you hike, the mist from the cascading water creates a refreshing and immersive experience, making it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


The Mist Trail is renowned for its challenging yet rewarding nature, offering hikers the opportunity to witness the raw power and beauty of these majestic waterfalls up close. Whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking a new adventure or a beginner looking to push your limits, this trail promises an unforgettable experience amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of the Yosemite Valley.


Throughout the hike, you’ll be surrounded by the tranquil serenity of nature. Towering granite cliffs, lush greenery, and the roaring sound of rushing water create a harmonious symphony that truly immerses you in the wonders of the natural world. The Mist Trail is not just about reaching the destination but also about embracing the journey itself.


Embarking on this memorable hike will not only challenge your physical abilities but also provide you with a spiritual connection to the unspoiled wilderness. The Mist Trail offers a unique opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with nature’s beauty and grandeur.


Whether you’re drawn to the Mist Trail for its stunning waterfalls, its exhilarating hiking experience, or simply to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Yosemite Valley, this adventure is bound to leave a lasting impression. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and get ready for an unforgettable journey to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall on the iconic Mist Trail.


Getting to the Mist Trail

Before starting your hike on the Mist Trail, it’s important to know how to get to the trailhead. The trailhead for the Mist Trail is located in Yosemite National Park, specifically in Yosemite Valley. Here are a few options for reaching the trailhead:

  1. Driving: If you have your own vehicle, you can drive to Yosemite National Park. The park is accessible from various locations, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. Once inside the park, follow the signs to Yosemite Valley. There is ample parking available near the trailhead. However, keep in mind that parking can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons.
  2. Public Transportation: If you prefer not to drive, you can take advantage of the public transportation options available. Yosemite National Park provides shuttle bus services from Mariposa, Merced, and other nearby areas. Once you arrive in Yosemite Valley, you can easily access the trailhead by either walking or taking a short shuttle ride.
  3. Guided Tours: Another option is to join a guided tour that includes the Mist Trail hike. These tours often provide transportation to and from the trailhead, allowing you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey without worrying about logistics.

No matter how you choose to reach the Mist Trail, it’s essential to plan your trip in advance and check for any road closures or shuttle schedule changes. Yosemite National Park’s website provides up-to-date information on transportation options and any potential road or trail closures.


Once you’ve arrived at Yosemite Valley, the trailhead for the Mist Trail is located near the Happy Isles Nature Center. Look for signs directing you to the trailhead, and make sure to pack all the necessary hiking essentials, including water, snacks, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing. It’s also advisable to check the weather forecast before you start your hike, as conditions can change rapidly in the mountains.


Now that you know how to get to the Mist Trail, it’s time to embark on this unforgettable adventure and witness the beauty of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall firsthand. Strap on your hiking boots, grab your camera, and prepare to be mesmerized by the awe-inspiring grandeur of Yosemite National Park.


Trail Overview

The Mist Trail is a 3-mile (4.8 km) roundtrip hike that takes you to both Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, two of Yosemite National Park’s most breathtaking natural wonders. The trail is well-maintained and offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it accessible to hikers of various skill levels.


The hike begins at the trailhead near the Happy Isles Nature Center in Yosemite Valley. The initial section of the trail is paved and meanders alongside the picturesque Merced River. This easy stretch gives hikers a chance to warm up and enjoy the serene beauty of the surroundings.


As you progress further, the trail ascends in elevation, gradually becoming steeper and more challenging. The Mist Trail earns its name as you approach Vernal Fall, as the spray from the waterfall creates a misty atmosphere that cools and refreshes hikers.


The first major highlight of the hike is Vernal Fall, a majestic 317-foot (97 meters) waterfall that cascades down a series of granite steps. Witnessing the powerful rush of water and feeling its mist on your face is a truly awe-inspiring experience.


For those who are up for the challenge, the adventure continues beyond Vernal Fall. The trail takes you to the top of Nevada Fall, which stands at an impressive 594 feet (181 meters). The views from this vantage point are simply breathtaking, offering panoramic vistas of the Yosemite Valley and surrounding peaks.


Both Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall provide ample opportunities to rest, take photos, and soak in the natural beauty of the surroundings. Remember to stay on designated paths and exercise caution, as the rocks near the falls can be slippery.


After reaching Nevada Fall, you have the option to return via the same trail or continue on to the John Muir Trail, which offers a longer loop hike back to Yosemite Valley. This extension adds approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the overall distance.


It’s important to note that the Mist Trail can be busy, especially during peak seasons. To fully enjoy the experience, consider starting early in the morning or choosing a weekday for your hike. This will allow you to avoid crowds and have a more peaceful and immersive adventure.


Overall, the Mist Trail offers a thrilling and unforgettable hiking experience. From the misty spray of Vernal Fall to the commanding views from Nevada Fall, this trail showcases the incredible beauty of Yosemite National Park and rewards hikers with memories that will last a lifetime.


Vernal Fall

Vernal Fall is one of the highlights of the Mist Trail hike in Yosemite National Park. This magnificent waterfall plunges 317 feet (97 meters) down a sheer granite cliff, creating a stunning display of raw power and natural beauty. As you approach Vernal Fall, the sound of cascading water grows louder, and a refreshing mist fills the air.


The trail to Vernal Fall is a moderate ascent, offering glimpses of the waterfall along the way. As you get closer, you’ll be rewarded with a close-up view of the thunderous cascade. The mist from the waterfall provides a delightfully cool respite, especially on hot summer days. It’s not uncommon to see rainbows forming in the mist, adding a touch of magic to the scene.


For the more adventurous hikers, there is an optional side trail called the Mist Trail Cut-off, which offers a different perspective of Vernal Fall. This trail takes you closer to the waterfall and provides a more immersive experience. Be prepared to feel the full force of the mist and the powerful spray as you navigate your way along the rocky steps.


Once you’ve reached the top of Vernal Fall, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of Yosemite Valley. Take some time to rest, enjoy a snack, and appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty that surrounds you. The sense of accomplishment and the sense of being in harmony with nature make this an unforgettable moment.


While visiting Vernal Fall, it’s important to exercise caution. The rocks near the waterfall can be slippery, so take your time and watch your step. Stay on designated trails and follow any posted signs or instructions from park rangers to ensure your safety.


Whether you’re drawn to Vernal Fall for its stunning beauty, the exhilaration of the hike, or the opportunity to connect with nature, this iconic waterfall will leave a lasting impression. Capturing photographs or simply sitting in quiet contemplation, Vernal Fall is a majestic natural wonder that showcases the grandeur of Yosemite National Park.


Nevada Fall

Nestled amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of Yosemite National Park, Nevada Fall is a true spectacle to behold. Standing at an impressive 594 feet (181 meters), this majestic waterfall is a prominent feature along the Mist Trail hike. The journey to Nevada Fall takes hikers on a rewarding adventure, culminating in breathtaking panoramic views and a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur.


The trail from Vernal Fall to Nevada Fall is a challenging yet invigorating ascent. As you continue along the path, you’ll encounter sections of rocky steps and steep inclines. It’s important to take your time and pace yourself, fully immersing in the natural surroundings while listening to the melodious sounds of the wilderness.


Reaching the top of Nevada Fall is a truly rewarding experience. The powerful rush of water and the misty spray create a captivating atmosphere. The vantage point from the summit offers a commanding view of the Yosemite Valley, with its iconic granite cliffs, verdant forests, and pristine wilderness. It’s a sight that will leave you in awe of the sheer beauty of nature.


As you stand at the top of Nevada Fall, take a moment to soak in the breathtaking scenery, capture photos, and reflect on the accomplishment of completing this challenging hike. The sense of accomplishment and connection to nature is truly humbling and rejuvenating.


When exploring Nevada Fall, it is crucial to exercise caution. The area can be slippery, so ensure you wear appropriate footwear and take care while navigating the rocks. Always stay on the designated paths and adhere to safety guidelines provided by park officials.


After admiring the magnificence of Nevada Fall, you have the option to return via the same trail or continue on to the John Muir Trail for a longer loop hike back to Yosemite Valley. The John Muir Trail offers a different perspective of the park and showcases even more of its natural beauty.


Nevada Fall is a true testament to the splendor of Yosemite National Park. Its towering presence, thunderous roar, and mesmerizing beauty will leave you in awe. As you descend the Mist Trail, with memories of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall etched in your mind, you’ll carry with you a profound appreciation for the remarkable natural wonders that Yosemite has to offer.


Mist Trail Hike Tips

The Mist Trail hike in Yosemite National Park is a thrilling and unforgettable adventure. To make the most of your experience, it’s important to come prepared. Here are some helpful tips to ensure a successful and enjoyable hike:

  1. Start Early: The Mist Trail can get crowded, especially during peak seasons. To beat the crowds, start your hike early in the morning. Not only will you have the trail to yourself, but you’ll also have more time to soak in the beauty of the waterfalls without feeling rushed.
  2. Bring Adequate Water and Snacks: Hiking can be strenuous, so it’s essential to stay hydrated and fueled. Carry plenty of water and pack energy-rich snacks such as granola bars, trail mix, or fruit. Remember, it’s important to leave no trace, so pack out any trash.
  3. Wear Proper Hiking Gear: Dress in layers and wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. The trail can be steep and rocky, so supportive footwear with good traction is essential. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are also recommended to protect against the sun’s rays.
  4. Be Prepared for Changing Weather Conditions: Yosemite’s weather can be unpredictable, even in summer. Pack a light rain jacket or shell, and be prepared for sudden temperature changes. It’s advisable to check the weather forecast before your hike and adjust your clothing accordingly.
  5. Listen to Your Body: The Mist Trail hike involves elevation gain and can be challenging for some hikers. Listen to your body and take breaks as needed. Pace yourself and don’t feel pressured to keep up with others. It’s important to know your limits and hike at a pace that is comfortable for you.
  6. Respect Wildlife and Nature: Yosemite National Park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. As you hike, respect the wildlife by observing from a distance and refraining from feeding or disturbing them. Leave no trace by packing out all trash and adhering to park regulations.
  7. Be Mindful of Safety: While the Mist Trail is a popular and well-maintained hike, accidents can happen. Stay on designated paths, use handrails when provided, and exercise caution on slippery rocks near the waterfalls. Follow any warnings or instructions from park rangers to ensure your safety.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared for an incredible adventure on the Mist Trail. Remember to take your time, savor the beauty of the waterfalls, and appreciate the wonders of Yosemite National Park. Stay safe, enjoy the hike, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


Safety Considerations

While hiking the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park is a thrilling adventure, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Yosemite’s rugged terrain and unpredictable weather demand careful preparation and cautious decision-making. Here are some important safety considerations to keep in mind before embarking on the Mist Trail:

  1. Plan and Prepare: Familiarize yourself with the trail and its difficulty level before starting your hike. Research the current weather conditions, trail closures, and any potential hazards. Carry a map, compass, or GPS device to ensure you stay on the right path.
  2. Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Bring plenty of water and energy-rich snacks to sustain your energy levels throughout the hike. Dehydration and low blood sugar can impair judgment and increase the risk of accidents.
  3. Dress appropriately: Wear layers to adapt to changing weather conditions. Yosemite’s temperatures can fluctuate, so be prepared for both hot sun and sudden drops in temperature. Sturdy, well-fitting footwear is essential for navigating the trail’s rocky terrain.
  4. Beware of Slippery Surfaces: Rocks near the waterfalls can be slippery due to mist and moisture. Take extra caution and use handrails when provided. Avoid venturing off designated trails or stepping onto wet, moss-covered areas as they can be treacherous.
  5. Be Aware of Changing Weather: Yosemite’s weather can change rapidly. Thunderstorms, rain, and sudden temperature drops are common, even in summer. Check weather forecasts and be prepared with rain gear or warm layers to ensure your comfort and safety.
  6. Stay on Designated Trails: Veering off the marked trail poses risks to both you and the delicate ecosystem. Help preserve Yosemite’s natural beauty by staying on designated paths. Straying off-trail can lead to accidents and cause irreversible damage to sensitive plant life.
  7. Practice Caution Near Waterfalls: Waterfalls are powerful and beautiful but can also be dangerous. Do not swim or climb on wet rocks near the water’s edge. Observe all safety signs and respect any closed areas near the falls.
  8. Travel with a Buddy: Hiking with a companion is always recommended. If you do hike alone, inform someone of your plans, including your expected time of return. Carry a whistle or signaling device to attract attention if needed.
  9. Leave No Trace: Yosemite National Park is a precious wilderness. Help preserve its beauty by adhering to “Leave No Trace” principles. Pack out all trash, dispose of waste properly, and avoid disturbing wildlife or disrupting their natural habitats.

By understanding and following these safety considerations, you can mitigate risks and maximize enjoyment during your hike on the Mist Trail. Remember that safety should always be a top priority, allowing you to fully embrace the beauty and adventure that Yosemite National Park has to offer.



The Mist Trail hike in Yosemite National Park offers an unforgettable journey through the stunning beauty of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. From the refreshing mist that envelops you as you ascend, to the awe-inspiring views at the summits, this trail provides an immersive experience that will leave a lasting impression.


As you traverse the well-maintained path, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas, the soothing sounds of rushing water, and the serenity of nature in its purest form. The Mist Trail showcases the power and grandeur of Yosemite’s waterfalls, allowing you to witness their magnificence up close.


Preparation is key when embarking on the Mist Trail hike. From planning your route and ensuring you have the necessary supplies to adhering to safety guidelines, taking the necessary precautions ensures a safe and enjoyable experience. It’s also important to be mindful of the environment and respect the delicate ecosystems surrounding the trail.


The Mist Trail hike is not only a physical challenge but also a spiritual connection to the natural wonders of Yosemite National Park. It offers a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty this park has to offer.


Whether you’re an avid hiker seeking adventure or a nature enthusiast yearning to witness the raw power of waterfalls, the Mist Trail will captivate your senses and leave you with cherished memories. Experience the joy of conquering the challenging terrain, stand in awe of the majestic falls, and embrace the tranquility of the Yosemite Valley.


So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and embark on this unforgettable journey to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall on the iconic Mist Trail. Let the mist rejuvenate your spirit, the beauty of the waterfalls inspire your soul, and the grandeur of Yosemite National Park leave an indelible mark on your heart.