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Hike the Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Trails

Climb alongside nature’s “giant staircase”, the place you are rewarded with close up views of two waterfalls and several geologic aspects (depending on how a long way you choose to hike). Powerfull and turbulent, these two waterfalls will soak you in spring and entice you year-round.


You can also take the John Muir Trail to the pinnacle of Vernal Fall (via the Clark Point cutoff) and the top of Nevada Fall, or mix the Mist Trail and John Muir Trail into a loop. See the map, profile and description below for more information.

All begin at Happy Isles (shuttle end #16)

This very famous hike originates close to Happy Isle in eastern Yosemite Valley (shuttle stop #16). The John Muir and Mist Trail offer spectacular, up-close views of two large waterfalls, exciting surroundings along the Merced River, and special views throughout Yosemite Valley. The first paved mile of trail is busiest and access the Vernal Fall Footbridge. Almost completely uphill, you can respect views along the way, and for spring, when the water degrees are at their peak, you can also glimpse Illillouette Fall from this first area of trail.

You will discover a splendid view of Vernal Fall from the footbridge at 0.8 miles (1.3 km). About 0.2 miles (0.3 km) beyond the bridge, the Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail diverge. To proceed immediately to the pinnacle of Vernal Fall, follow the Mist Trail 0.5 miles (0.8 km) up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps, Prepare for slippery footing and a superb amount of waterfall spray in spring and early summertime (hence the name for this trail!). You will satisfaction in views of Vernal Fall all alongside this stretch of path and may even be capable to see a rainbow in the spray of the fall. At the pinnacle of Vernal Fall, you can trip jaw-dropping views straight down the length of the 317-foot waterfall (please don’t pass the railings and use serve caution whilst you’re near any flowing water or wet rock in this area).

From this point, you can select to flip around and head lower back the way you came; continue up to the next junction (about 0.2 miles/0.3 km ) and take the longer route lower back by way of the John Muir Trail; or proceed uphill on the Mist Trail to the pinnacle of Nevada Fall. If you pick out to continue on the Mist Trail, rapidly past Vernal Fall, you will omit by way of Emerald Pool and Silver Apron. Both of these appear can also seem inviting on a hot summer’s day, however, it is unlawful and unsafe to swim right here due to the extraordinarily hazardous current.

Continuing along the Mist Trail, you’ll ride every other 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of steep, rocky switchbacks to reach Nevada Fall. Crashing down 594 feet, this thunderous waterfall is fullest in spring and early summer, and you will discover high-quality photographic possibilities alongside this stretch of trail. At the pinnacle of the climb, head proper to attain the footbridge that crosses the Merced River above the fall, permitting you a nearer view of it. Use intense warning whilst you’re close to any flowing water or moist rock in this area.

From here, you can both return down the Mist Trail, or proceed over the bridge to the John Muir Trail for an alternate route again to Yosemite Valley. If you choose the John Muir Trail, you will revel in distinct scenery, with extraordinary views of Liberty Cap and one of a kind views of Nevada Fall. The John Muir Trail is longer – approximately 4 miles one way compared to Mist Trail’s 2.5 miles (4 km) – so sketch accordingly.

Some hikers can also be continuing from the top of Nevada Fall o hike to Half Dome or elsewhere in Yosemite’s wilderness.


You can hike to each waterfall all year. However, in winter, there is a unique route that remains open while some sections of the path are closed. The decrease component of the Mist Trail along Vernal Fall closes in winter due to chance of falling ice and rock. The higher element of the John Muir Trail between Clark Point and the top of Nevada Fall is closed in winter due to treacherously icy conditions. Keep in mind that the section of path that stays open in the iciness may also be very icy and/or snowy. View current conditions for path closures and view historical opening and closing dates for this trail.

View a path profile and map of the winter route to the top of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall.


Parking is not handy at the trailhead itself, but you park at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village), less than 1 mile (1.6 km) from the trailhead. However, getting access to the trailhead is convenient through taking the Valley Visitor Shuttle (7 am to 10 pm year-round) to shuttle stop #16.


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Child Friendly Child Friendly
Dog friendly Dog friendly
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