The Complete Guide to Vernal Falls and the Mist Trail Hike

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About the Mist Trail Hike

The Mist Trail Hike is Yosemite National Park’s signature hike and offers truly majestic natural views scattered along the trail. Most loved sights include the famous bridge overlook, as well as the views of two enormous waterfalls: Vernal and Nevada Falls. Hiking to the top of the trail guarantees striking views of Liberty Cap and the back of Half Dome.

Widely considered to be the most trafficked hike within Yosemite National Park, the Mist Trail Hike to Vernal and Nevada falls is a hike of moderate length and moderate difficulty located in the eastern Yosemite Valley.

Hikers should expect a 3 mile round-trip hike to Vernal Fall, and a 7 mile round-trip hike to Nevada Fall. Visitors choosing to walk from the nearby Curry Village area should plan for an additional 1.5 miles of traveling. The trail takes about two to five hours to hike, based on experience and general fitness level. The difficulty level is considered medium to strenuous, with the most strenuous leg of the hike being the ascent to Nevada Fall. Groups of visitors with more junior hikers are still guaranteed to see exquisite views of the area along the way, even if not fully reaching the end of the trail.

When to Visit Vernal Falls in Yosemite

The best time to visit the Mist Trail and Vernal Fall is somewhere between April and July. This time period is considered peak runoff season. Visiting in the early spring or winter will subject travelers to wet, slippery, and potentially dangerous conditions. Brave explorers hiking Mist Trail in the spring are guaranteed to be drenched by spray from Vernal and Nevada falls. If visiting in the spring, be sure to bring appropriate rain gear and shoes.

The best time to hike the Mist Trail during peak season is early in the morning. Large crowds tend to sweep the area mid-day. Hikers looking avoid congested conditions should plan to arrive on the trail by 7 AM. For sightseers unafraid of dusk conditions, hiking in the late afternoon is also possible. Late afternoon visitors should pack flashlights and headlamps to prepare for dusk visibility conditions.

Yosemite’s Mist Trail Hike – Where to Park

Ample parking is available for visitors traversing the Mist Trail Hike. To reach Mist Trail, park anywhere in the eastern half of Yosemite Valley and catch a free shuttle bus to the trailhead near Happy Isles. There is a trailhead parking lot just east of Curry Village, but this lot can fill quickly during peak season.

Nearby Lodging & Amenities

Public restrooms are available in Curry Village, along the Mist Trail Hike at the first overlook, at the top of Vernal Fall, and at the top of Nevada Fall. Food, drinks, and convenience items can be purchased in nearby Curry Village.

Lodging closest to the Mist Trail hike can be found in Yosemite West. Yosemite West is a former logging area that has been converted to a private community of homes and wilderness preserve within Yosemite National Park. This area is known for its spectacular views of the re-grown Giant Sequoia trees once used for logging. Rental properties ranging from condos to cabins that comfortably sleep large groups are available for reservation in Yosemite West. Reserving a cabin or private rental home guarantees a comfortable place to cook, dine, and sleep after a long day of exploring the park.


If you're planning a hiking adventure to Mist Trail, be sure to reserve your Yosemite accommodations with Scenic Wonders. We offer cabin, home, and condominium rentals within the gates of Yosemite National Park that will put you just minutes from exploring the breathtaking sights this phenomenal trail offers. Call 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) to learn about our available rentals or to reserve your Yosemite accommodations today!

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