Vernal Fall
Vernal Fall

Vernal Fall

Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, California, 95389

The basics

Though standing tall at 317 feet (97 meters), Vernal Fall isn’t visible from the valley floor. Viewing it requires taking one of two hiking trails: the Mist Trail, beginning at the Happy Isles Nature Center, is the most popular route and does lead through mists. The Panorama trail descends from Glacier Point to Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall. Private hiking tours typically visit both falls taking these routes, which can be challenging farther up from the valley floor.

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Things to know before you go

  • The water is fast and frigid: don’t swim or wade and avoid the river’s edge.

  • Bikes, strollers, and pets are prohibited.

  • The lower portion of the Mist Trail closes during winter.

  • Drinking water is available at shuttle stop #16 and the Vernal Fall Footbridge.

  • Restrooms are located at shuttle stop #16 and the Vernal Falls footbridge.

  • Vault toilets are at the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls along the Mist Trail.

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How to get there

Take the free #16 shuttle from Yosemite Valley to the Mist Trail trailhead near the Happy Isles Nature Center, or walk from Curry Village. It’s about 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers) round-trip to Vernal Fall and 5.4 miles (8.7 kilometers) to the top of Nevada Fall. While the trail to Vernal is short, it’s steep and requires about three hours round trip.

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When to get there

The fall remains open to the public year-round, but portions of the Mist Trail turn icy and close during winter. That said, Yosemite becomes a magical winter wonderland during the cold season. The water flow peaks in spring from April to June, which also conveniently precedes the summer tourist rush.

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Which hiking trails lead to Vernal Fall?

Hikers are sometimes confused—or just curious—about the hiking trails that lead to Vernal Fall. The easiest route is the Mist Trail, a relatively short loop trail from the valley floor to Vernal and Nevada Falls. Other options include the Panorama Trail, which descends to the falls from Glacier Point, or the John Muir Trail, which reaches both falls via the Clark Point cutoff.

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