Vernal and Nevada Falls

Yosemite Village, California 95367

Vernal and Nevada Falls

Vernal and Nevada Falls Professional Review and Guide

"Probably the single most scenic short hike in the Sierra Nevada, this wildly popular semiloop gets awfully crowded on summer days. But don’t miss it—for the sake of the superlative scenery, the cliffs and rocks, the distant vistas of leaping waterfalls, the in-your-face proximity of Vernal Fall on the Mist Trail, the power of the rampaging Merced River. This hike is a classic."

More Vernal and Nevada Falls Professional Reviews and Guides

"These two hikes head up the Merced River Canyon between Half Dome and Glacier Point among sheer granite walls, deep gorges and classic glacial features. The trail parallels the Merced River to the base and top of both Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. These falls are part of Merced Canyon’s “Giant Staircase.” This glacial stairway plunges 317 feet at Vernal Fall and 594 feet at Nevada Fall. The trail to the falls climbs through the steep granite gorge with stunning views of these two world-class waterfalls, plus views of Glacier Point, Half Dome, Illilouette Fall and Upper Yosemite Fall. The hike crosses the Merced River four times via bridges. Along the Mist Trail, mist from the large volume of water plunging over Vernal Fall sprays the canyon walls that are carpeted with moss, ferns and deep green foliage. Early in the season, the mist also sprays the trail and hikers. Rain gear is recommended, or you will get soaked."

"A Yosemite classic, this one has it all: rushing waterfalls, verdant canyons, slabs of imposing granite, shady conifers, and inspiring views of the valley below. Nevada Falls drops 594 feet, making it the longest single leap of the Merced River, while Vernal Falls completes the journey with a 317-foot drop. The trail is no secret, but it’s hard to blame the masses once you witness its dramatic charm. Start this walk early before it’s overrun with valley-floor visitors, as well as to avoid midday heat in the summer. Beginning on the John Muir Trail (JMT), this is a balloon loop. Start by climbing to a scenic footbridge and a thunderous view of Vernal Falls. Next, continue up the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Falls. To return, loop back, descending on the more gradual JMT to rejoin your route at the footbridge. Outstanding features: Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Emerald Pool, Silver Apron, Clark Point, sweeping views of the valley"

"Mile for mile, the very popular semi-loop hike up to the brink of Nevada Fall and back may be the most scenic one in the park. The first part of this loop goes up the famous (or infamous) Mist Trail—a steep, strenuous trail that sprays you with Vernal Fall’s mist, which cools you on hot afternoons but makes the mostly bedrock route slippery and dangerous. Take rain gear or, if it is a warm day, strip down to swimwear, since you can dry out on slabs above the fall. For best photos start after 10 a.m."

Vernal and Nevada Falls Reviews

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9/2/2018
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6/15/2018
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7/25/2017
Awesome trail.
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5/29/2009
Must-do hike in Yosemite. FIrst mile or so is paved and crowded, fairly steep and ends at a bridge with a gorgeous view of Vernal Falls. We continued up the Mist Trail...be prepared to get drenched in the spring time. On up several well-maintained swtichbacks to the top of Nevada Falls. Can see Ilouette Falls on the trip up. We returned via the John Muir Trail, a little bit longer and is used by the mule teams, but much more preferable. Amazing views of Nevada and Yosemite Falls on the way down. The farther away from the valley you get, the fewer people on the trails. Highly recommend!
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4/23/2008
My wife and I enjoyed the hike. The views are spectacular. We thought they were better than from Yosemite falls. Took the Muir trail back. Longer but less pounding on the knees.
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4/26/2006
This is a great hike for anyone wanting to experience Yosemite in all its splendor. You'll get great views of the valley and up-close-and-personal with a great waterfall. The hike starts at Happy Isles, so hop on the Yosemite bus and get off at that stop. The hike can be steep, and it is VERY heavilly traveled. There are bathrooms and a nice footbridge at the base of the falls. Most of the people stop here. If it is spring, take the Mist Trail up to the top. You WILL be soaked, but it is a kick to watch the water come off the falls so heavily, it creates a creek running down the rock steps you're walking on. You can also take the John Muir trail instead of the Mist Trail if you don't want to get wet. The trail at the top continues on to Nevada Falls, then Little Yosemite Valley, the Half Dome. This is a nice hike with kids, even if it is straight up much of the way. It's one of the only Yosemite Valley hikes that leads up to the higher elevations, too. A great hike, enjoy! -- Hikin' Daddy --
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8/28/2005
When I went there was barely any waterfall but still an impressive hike visually and physically.
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6/10/2003
You'll love this hike. A moderate amt. of uphill with great scenery. Foot traffic was pretty heavy. Vernal falls was at peak flow and we were soaked fron the heavy mist going up the granite stairs to the top, but had a blast. Start at Happy Isles Campground and don't bother to download this trail, because if you get lost on this hike, you better stay in the safety of your own living room.
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Vernal and Nevada Falls Photos

Trail Information

Yosemite Village
Nearby City
5.2
Distance
2,300 feet
Elevation Gain
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
6 hours, allowing extra time to enjoy the views.
Duration
Late May through early July is best for water volume, but the trail is typically open through the end of October.
Season
Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, Yosemite Village
Local Contacts
USGS Half Dome.
Local Maps