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Photo Essay: Trek to Vernal Falls a.k.a The Mist Trail

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There is no dearth of treks, trails, and waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, ranging from easy to tough. We spent 4 days at this national park with friends and family and you can read about the top experiences here on Yosemite National Park with kids. We drive over to Yosemite after spending 4 days in San Francisco.

As opposed to the Sentinel Dome hike which we did with our entire group of 8 adults and 6 kids, I attempted ‘The Mist Trail’ with a friend. We had a short amount of time while the kids were enjoying rafting at the Yosemite Village with other adults.

One of the most popular trails at Yosemite National Park

The scenic views start right from the trailhead.

The Mist Trail to view Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls is one of the most popular hikes in Yosemite and for good reason. Unlike Yosemite Falls which can be viewed from Yosemite Valley, Vernal Falls can be viewed only if you take the trail.

The Mist Trail gives you a close and personal experience of Vernal and Nevada Falls.

The Valley views on this trail are stupendous!

My friend and I decided to walk to the trailhead from the Curry Village but you can easily take a shuttle to the trailhead. The approximate 1 km walk stretched our muscles well.

The round trip to Vernal Falls is 3 miles (4.8 km) and if you go further to Nevada Falls, the entire round trip chalks to about 7 miles (11 km).

I couldn’t get enough of the coniferous trees around me.

The Mist Trail is moderately challenging especially climbing the short stretches that take you to the top of the 2 falls. The good part is that unlike one wow scene on some of the other trails, the scenic views are scattered all along the trail.

You can see the Vernal Falls at a distance from the footbridge.

From the trailhead, there is an ascending path that takes you to a bridge looking up at Vernal falls in the distance. You could turn back from here if you are looking at a short and easy trek.

Climb to the top of Vernal Falls

But if you continue ahead, you will understand why the hike is named as the Mist Trail. You reach very close to Vernal Falls and the sheer magnitude of water falling down creates a cloud of mist that leaves all hikers drenched.

The close view of Vernal Falls is absolutely worth the climb.
The cool mist from Vernal Falls is so refreshing!

Vernal Falls is just 317 feet tall but quite powerful.

On the hot day that we hiked, the mist felt lovely on our faces and arms. You could turn back from here without much regret.

This near-vertical climb up the rocky stairs takes you to the top of Vernal Falls.

But if you continue the rocky path and take the near vertical climb up, only a few do – you will reach the top of Vernal Falls and be rewarded with a fabulous view of the valley around.

You can see the whole valley and the Merced River from the top.
Look back!

You could turn back from here and have seen enough to brag to friends and family.

Climb to Nevada Falls and resting spot in between

But if you continue just a bit more, it is a nearly flat path, you will reach the lovely Emerald Pool. Don’t be fooled by the loveliness though. The currents are very strong, so no swimming or even wading in the water.

Emerald Pool is a good spot to relax.
The Silver Apron gets its name because of the shimmering sheet of water coursing over the granite.

At the top of the pool is water rushing over a smooth granite land, aptly named as the Silver Apron.

Swimming is strictly prohibited here. However appealing this looks, don’t venture in, the currents are very strong.

Rest awhile and enjoy the beauty of this spot. The crowds here are very less as compared to the beginning of the trek from the trailhead to Vernal Falls. You can turn back from here easily.

But if you continue ahead, you would reach the bridge that looks up at Nevada Falls. Alas, we ran out of time and had to turn back from the bridge!

A 1.5-mile path will take you to the top of Nevada Falls where one can see stunning views of the valley and the back of Half Dome.

We saw the Nevada Falls at a distance. We opted out of going closer to the top because of a paucity of time.

If you go all the way to the top of Nevada Falls, you are rewarded with scenic views of the back of Half Dome and the Liberty Cap. We reached only the bridge looking at Nevada Falls.

For more resources and information to help plan this trek, check out –

Yosemite National Park Service

Yosemite Hikes


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