Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in California. It has breathtaking landscapes, picturesque waterfalls, ancient giant sequoia groves, and more. There is no dearth of treks and trails in Yosemite National Park, ranging from easy to tough. We spent 4 days at this national park with friends and family after spending time in San Francisco. Our top experiences at Yosemite National Park with kids included the popular Glacier hike, easy treks like the Sentinel Dome hike, viewing the Yosemite Falls, and more. 

This post is about the hike to Vernal Falls at Yosemite only, no other Yosemite waterfalls. 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 hike’ with a friend. We had a short amount of time while the kids were enjoying rafting at the Yosemite Village with other adults.

The Mist Trail in brief

Distance and Elevation: 3 miles round trip to Vernal Falls with a 1000 ft elevation to the top of Vernal falls.

7-miles round trip to Nevada Falls with an elevation gain of 1900 ft to the top of Nevada falls.

The Valley views on this trail are stupendous! 

Best time to visit: The best time to do the Mist Trail is between April to July. Being one of Yosemite’s signature hikes, this trail does get crowded. So if you are hiking this trail in peak months, that too on a weekend, it is best to head out early around 7 am to avoid crowds.

The crowds thin out considerably after the top of Vernal Falls, if you continue to Nevada Falls.

Difficulty: Moderate. There are parts when you climb the Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls to reach to the top, which are quite steep.

Vernal Falls hike is one of the most popular trails

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 hike gives you a close and personal experience of Vernal and Nevada Falls.

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.

Vernal-Falls-Trail-ValleyI 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 Vernal Falls trail at Yosemite.

Vernal-Falls-Bridge-ViewYou 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.

Mist Trail Hike: 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.

Vernal-FallsThe 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.

Vernal-Falls-Rickety-Steps-DownThis 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 could turn back from here and have seen enough to brag to friends and family.

Vernal-Falls-Top You can see the whole valley and the Merced River from the top.

Climb to Nevada Falls and resting spot in between

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.

Emereld-PoolEmerald Pool is a good spot to relax.

Silver-ApronThe 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. Rest awhile and enjoy the beauty of this spot. The crowds here are less when 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!

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

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. 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

Guest author bio: Shweta has always been passionate about travel and immersing in new experiences. Having been to over 45 countries, she blogs at Zest In A Tote to bring family-friendly itineraries and tips, destinations, and luxury stays to her readers. Her belief in family travel needn’t be boring and one can do a mix of local culture & food, adventure activities, and relaxation, all with family.