Mist Trail (Yosemite National Park)

In the summer of 2006, I had the opportunity to hike the mist trail to Nevada and Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park with a group of friends. This is a spectacular hike in Yosemite National Park and offers amazing scenery and great views of two of the parks major waterfalls.

Directions to Trailhead: The trailhead is at the east end of Yosemite Valley, to which almost all roads in Yosemite lead. From the 140, just stay on the road until you're in Yosemite Valley; from the north (Big Oak Flat) entrance, do the same; from the Tioga Road, go west until it terminates at Big Oak Flat Road, then turn left and follow Big Oak Flat Road to the valley; from the south entrance, take highway 41 (which you're already on) all the way to the valley. Once you've reached Yosemite Valley, keep an eye out for signs to Curry Village and head in their general direction. Once you've reached the Curry Village vicinity of the valley, you should start spotting signs for trailhead parking. Follow them to the trailhead lot or park at Curry Village.

If you're taking the Glacier Point route, take highway 41 to Glacier Point Road and then take Glacier Point Road to its eastern terminus at, appropriately enough, Glacier Point. A great map of Yosemite Valley with hiking trails is provided Here. This Hike begins at Happy Isles (shuttle stop #16 on the map just provided). The National Parks Services website also has popular hikes in Yosemite Valley listed Here.

Description of Hike: This hike is 7 miles roundtrip with 1,900 feet of elevation gain. The trail is well marked and well traveled by park visitors. The mist trail is named for the enormous clouds of rainbow-strewn mist that are generated by the two waterfalls along the hike. This is one of the most popular trails in the park and it follows the Merced River's slippery granite banks from Happy Isles past Vernal and Nevada Falls.  Note, if you only choose to hike to the top of Vernal Fall and not continue to  Nevada Fall the hike is just over 3 miles roundtrip with 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

Further Thoughts: This was a great hike and it is one of the most popular trails in the park for a reason, it is spectacular. You want to make sure you do this hike when there is plenty of water in the Merced River. The best time to do this hike is in late spring around May. The views along the hike are amazing and are even more spectacular when the falls are generating a lot of mist. 

When hiking on this trail, make sure to be careful as the granite gets very slippery. Make sure you have good sturdy hiking shoes with good tread for this hike. You might also want to bring a plastic bag or something to cover your backpack and gear while you are hiking this trail.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 1,900 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 7 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate). For a shortened hike only going to Vernal Fall: Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 3 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 2 - 5 hours


Mist Trail (This Post)

View Mist Trail in a larger map


  1. We just returned from Yosemite this past week and we hiked this up to the top of Nevada Falls. What an absolutely incredible hike ~ Wow! We got an early start and at times it felt like we had the whole trail to ourselves. The pay off view at the top of Nevada Falls is well worth the considerable effort getting there. I can't wait to get back there and hike it again!

  2. I am writing about my Mist Tail experience right now! Beautiful pictures and helpful blog site!

  3. This is a wonderful hike with spectacular views. I haven’t hiked much but loved it. There is quite a bit of elevation and trails are all pretty natural so a certain degree of fitness is required. I was a bit worried about coming back down due to the slope but there is a longer easier route back on the John Muir trail so don’t be put off.


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