The spectacular Mist Trail at the eastern end of the Yosemite Valley leads to some of the most popular destinations in Yosemite National Park. In addition to nearby attractions such as Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and the Emerald Pool, hikers also use the trail to visit Half Dome and Clouds Rest. For those only wishing to see the waterfalls in this valley you’ll have a few options, depending on how far you want to travel and how much effort you want to put into getting there.
The hike to Vernal Fall begins from the Happy Isles trailhead, located near bus stop 6 in the Yosemite Valley. From the trailhead you’ll proceed up moderately steep terrain along a paved footpath to the Vernal Falls Bridge. Located eight-tenths of a mile from the trailhead, the footbridge over the Merced River provides hikers with their first views of Vernal Fall.
After crossing the Merced and walking another two-tenths of a mile, the trail reaches the John Muir Trail junction. Although this trail description leads hikers directly to the base of Vernal Fall, the John Muir Trail offers you the option of hiking up to Clark Point, and then back down the connector trail to the Mist Trail. This loop option visits the top of Vernal Fall, and gains almost 1500 feet over the course of a 4.2-mile roundtrip hike.
Beyond the junction the trail continues to ascend up moderate terrain. Soon you’ll reach the stone carved steps that the Mist Trail is famous for. You’ll also notice that the views of Vernal Fall continue to improve the closer you get.
loop hike that returns back to the valley via the John Muir Trail.
Trail: Vernal Fall
RT Distance: 2.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 665 feet
Max Elevation: 4700 feet
TH Location: Happy Isles Trailhead
Map: Yosemite National Park Trails Illustrated Map
Top Trails: Yosemite features 46 “must-do” hikes in Yosemite National Park, from scenic strolls, to full-day adventures, to spectacular backpacking trips. With at-a-glance information for each hike visitors can determine which hikes are most suitable to their skills, schedules and preferences. The book also provides elevation profiles, detailed maps, as well as information on which trails are child-friendly; where to see giant sequoias, waterfalls, lakes, wildflowers, autumn colors; the best photo opportunities; and which have camping, running or biking opportunities.