The Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park is the most popular trail in the park and with good reason. You get up close with two HUGE waterfalls and have marvelous views of the Merced River the whole way up. This hike is entirely uphill but not to worry if you aren't much of a hiker... you can still enjoy excellent views of Vernal Falls from the footbridge at 0.8 miles in. Even though this hike can be very crowded (especially in peak season) it is well worth the effort as you will not find a another hike quite like this. Keep reading to see why you need to hike the Mist Trail.
Mist Trail Fast Facts
You can also watch our hike up the Mist Trail to Vernal & Nevada Falls... See how busy the trail gets in summer!
Start your morning early if you want to beat the crowds or you could also start late in the afternoon to avoid crowds. Getting off at the Happy Isles shuttle stop make your way up a paved, moderately steep path.
To reach the Vernal Falls footbridge it is 0.75 miles where you get excellent views of Vernal Falls. This is where non-hikers usually turn back. You can also go to the restroom one last time or fill up water bottles at the water fountain. You can see below it is super busy in the middle of July which is when we visited but from here the crowd begins to slowly thin out.
Beyond the bridge, the Mist trail and John Muir Trail diverge. Stay on the Mist trail (although the JMT has a lot less people if you would prefer to choose that option).
To reach the top of Vernal Falls, follow the Mist trail 0.5 miles up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps and be prepared to get wet! The trail here can get very slippery and wet and because the trail is narrow it can be hard to get through the crowds.
As you can see in the photo below, there aren't too many people on the trail at this point because I guess they don't want to get wet...or because the steps can be a bit much!
You will see some pretty mist bows on your way up... yes, they are called mist bows, not rainbows as one hiker had told us the previous day.
The top of Nevada Fall is reached by continuing another 1.3 miles along the Mist trail.
The waters were raging when we were there because of all the snowfall from earlier this year. Be careful as this is the number one way people die on their visit to Yosemite National Park! Yes, I googled this!
Yosemite Travel Resources
If you want to make the most of your trip to Yosemite we recommend getting yourself a guide book. We have a Lonely Planet guide for every state and national park we visit and find they are the most helpful. Also, if you plan to hike you should consider getting a hiking trail guide to the area as the park does not provide enough information on the trails at Yosemite. See our top pick below.
HIKING IN YOSEMITE
YOSEMITE TRIP PLANNER
Exploring America from the road. Discovering unimaginable natural beauty and fun vibrant cities. Read more