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Surrounded by green foliage, Vernal Fall flows all year round, spraying mist onto the hikers climbing along its steep granite stairway to enjoy the scenery. Plunging from a height of 96 m (317 ft), the fall is accessible via several shaded trails passing along the Merced River and offering exceptional vistas across Yosemite Valley. The trails are fairly strenuous and slippery in places, so watch your step and don't cross the railings. Facilities include several restrooms along the hike and a shuttle stop with drinking water at the Vernal Fall footbridge. Using our world travel planner, Yosemite National Park attractions like Vernal Fall can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
Vernal Fall reviews
Falls were beautiful but not at full strength as it was October. For me, it was as much or more about the vistas and the exercise. These trails are strenuous. There are very few places where...
Falls were beautiful but not at full strength as it was October. For me, it was as much or more about the vistas and the exercise. These trails are strenuous. There are very few places where... more »
Well we loved seeing the falls from the bridge, but really disappointed the Mist Trail was closed during the day. After the brutal climb up theJohn Muir trail, it was disappointing to not get that...
Well we loved seeing the falls from the bridge, but really disappointed the Mist Trail was closed during the day. After the brutal climb up theJohn Muir trail, it was disappointing to not get that... more »
We're a family of hikers (including our kids that summited Half Dome with us when they were 7 & 8 in Aug 2021 and did it again Aug 2022) so this review will not be indicative of average family hiking. However for kiddos that have a happy place out on the trail, this hike was an exceptional family activity. Vernal Falls/Mist Trail is one of the most iconic, moderately strenuous hikes in the park but worth it when you get to be so close and feel the mist from the 317 ft tall, powerful waterfall. You have plenty of incline on the initial paved area and then about halfway, past the footbridge, it changes to ~600 granite steps that can be quite wet. Very picturesque and if the sun's out, likely to see a rainbow in the mist! 🌈 According to my tracker, it's 2.47 miles to the top of Vernal Falls from Lower Pines Campground and it took us about an hour (pace of 35:48 min/mi). (To train for it, do your weighted step lunges and good cardio is incline hiking/walking or the stairs climber!) Because of ME...we went up the shorter, steep route of the Mist Trail and down the longer, gradual decline of the JMT for our RT Half Dome hike. (But "me" is also now technically 40½ with 5 total ACL reconstruction/medial meniscus repair surgeries on both knees, breast cancer survivor, recently healed broken big toe, and a destroyed thyroid...but a determination to stay active and "use it or lose it.") Parking can fill up quickly so we just stayed parked at the campground and hiked to the Happy Isles Trailhead...could bike there and leave bikes at the bike rack. Or take the shuttle to stop #16. Once past the initial paved trail, you have one last stop for filtered water and there's a restroom. If you're going up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls, this isn't the last restroom. When you get back to the bottom...head to the Merced River and put your feet (including knees!) in the water and ENJOY 😉 celebrating your accomplishment!
Probably one of the coolest hikes in Yosemite that doesn’t take a super long time. From entrance to the falls and back takes about 3-4 hours. The mileage is pretty short but incline is moderately high.
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