The Mist Trail: Hike Through Yosemite’s Iconic Waterfalls
The Mist Trail
Distance: 3 miles to Vernal Falls (round trip), 7 miles to Nevada Falls (round trip).
Elevation: 4000 feet @ trailhead, 1000 feet to Vernal Falls, 1900 feet to Nevada Falls
When to Hike: Mid-April thru Mid-July; You want to catch the peak runoff flow from the mountains into the valley to get the best waterfalls. Time of day is a huge factor on this trail as well as it is extremely popular. Pack a snack, eat a quick breakfast and hit the trail by sunrise to avoid the crowds on the way up and barely catch them on the way back down.
Why Hike This Trail: Simply put, the views! Spectacular views are scattered throughout this half-day hike. Views of both falls, Liberty Cap, and the rest of the valley can be had from nearly every spot of this hike. An added bonus is you get to hike a section of the iconic John Muir Trail (JMT) on the way down from Nevada Falls.
Time to Complete: Depending on distance, fitness level and time of day, this trail can be completed in 2-6 hours.
Difficulty: The climb up the falls is not technical, but it is strenuous given the elevation gain. The hike down is mellow with gracious switchbacks.
What to Bring: Rain gear and plenty of it. The hike up runs right along both large waterfalls and you will get wet, very wet. Bring a jacket and something to protect your camera and other electronics. Also bring plenty of drinking water and snacks for the top of the hike, there’s a good chance you could be worn out by the time you reach the top.
Parking: Park at the Happy Isles Trailhead and walk on the paved path toward the falls. There is a nearby campground if you’d rather spend the night close to the trailhead and bathrooms are plentiful both on the valley floor and all along the Mist Trail.
Enjoy this beautiful trail and remember to be aware of where you are at all times when outdoors. More people die in Yosemite National Park on the Mist Trail than anywhere else in the park. Most accidents occur from hikers falling or swimming in the water and being swept away by the current.