Hiking to Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail is a must when visiting Yosemite National Park. Powerful waterfalls and majestic views abound on this steep and stunning hike. Hiking to Nevada Falls is one of the more popular ones to do in Yosemite, and for good reason, so plan your trip accordingly knowing there will be crowds. We hiked from our campsite in Upper Pines to the trailhead, which added on an extra mile to the distance posted above, and with snack and bathroom breaks included, it took us 5 hours.
Entrance to Yosemite National Park is $30 for everyone, whether you are coming for Day Use or camping like we did. Once you pay to get into the park, our drive to Upper Pines Campground, which is in Yosemite Valley, took another hour. If you are visiting Yosemite National Park just for the day, plan to come early as the visitor parking spots fill up really quickly. Since our site in Upper Pines was just 1/2 a mile away from the trailhead, we walked from camp to the start of Mist Trail.
If hiking to the top of Vernal Falls proves to be too strenuous for you and your group, you can turn around and hike back down Mist Trail. From the trailhead to Vernal Falls roundtrip is 3 miles. However, if your legs and lung can handle it, hiking all the way to Nevada Falls is well worth the journey. The scenery is sublime and you can turn around and hike back down John Muir instead of Mist Trail like we did.
Once you reach the top of Nevada Falls there are bathrooms and plenty of signs directing you on how to get onto the John Muir trail. I would not recommend hiking back on Mist Trail because there are so many people hiking up it and I would imagine the slippery steps coming up are even more dangerous coming down. We thought we could avoid getting soaked again if we hiked back on John Muir, however, about 1/2 a mile in we encountered a “surprise” waterfall, raining down ice cold water on us. Some hikers tried to avoid it by walking on the rock wall alongside the trail. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try this! The wall is very slippery and we witnessed a woman almost fall off. You will gain close to 2,000 feet in elevation hiking to Nevada Falls so hikers should be extra cautious when hiking back to Yosemite Valley.
Our entire 3-day weekend spent in Yosemite was unforgettable, but our hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls was by far my favorite part! I look forward to sharing a post on our campsite at Upper Pines as well as another hike we did during our stay.
Did you hike Vernal to Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail? If so, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
In Love, Peace, and Hiking ~ xo