A hike on the Mist Trail is included in most Yosemite Valley tours. For the best views of Vernal Fall, you can reach the Vernal Fall footbridge in about a 1.5-mile (2.5-kilometer) round trip from the trailhead. In order to experience the mist, you must continue past the footbridge as the trail climbs steeply up along the river to Vernal Fall. Plan on a 3-mile (5-kilometer) round trip to reach Vernal Fall and a 7-mile (11-kilometer) round trip if you wish to reach Nevada Fall.
Things to know before you go
- A must-do hike for first-time visitors to Yosemite National Park.
- Wear sturdy boots or shoes, the trail can be slippery and wet.
- Bring rain gear or a poncho on cold days, especially during the spring runoff.
- Make sure to have water protection for your camera.
- Do not swim in the pools above the falls and keep a close eye on children.
How to get there
The hike begins at the Vernal Fall Footbridge near Happy Isles in eastern Yosemite Valley. Taking the free shuttle bus to the Happy Isles stop (#16) is the easiest way to get to the trail since cars are not allowed to drive all the way to the trailhead. Alternatively, you can park in the lot just past Curry Village, but the parking area tends to fill early and you’ll still have a 10-minute walk to the trailhead.
When to get there
The best time to hike the Mist Trail is during peak runoff when the falls are at their most dramatic. This is generally from late April through early June. The hike is incredibly popular so head out in the early morning to avoid the crowds. Leaving late in the afternoon is a good option too, just make sure to pack a headlamp for the return trip.
Other Family-Friendly Yosemite Valley Hikes
The short hike to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls is a good alternative to the Mist Trail and tends to soak hikers in spring and early summer as well. The easy trail to Glacier Point offers incredible panoramas of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Vernal and Nevada Falls, plus it’s a great place to catch the sunset. For a flat and easy hike around Yosemite Valley, the Sentinel Meadow and Cook's Meadow Loop is a good option.
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