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Trip Planner: USA / California / Yosemite National Park / Vernal Fall
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.
Tours to Vernal Fall
$1,835 BOOK WITH VIATOR Yosemite Classic Camping Trips Yosemite Classic Camping Trips
Duration: 5 days
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$300 BOOK WITH VIATOR Yosemite Valley Private Winter Hiking Tour Yosemite Valley Private Winter Hiking Tour
Duration: 4 to 6 hours
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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 »
this hike is STRENUOUS. Because it’s mostly steeply upwards, and with a toddler (who had To be carried after 1/4th way, it was impossible. We still kept going till the footbridge where the bottom of..... more
this hike is STRENUOUS. Because it’s mostly steeply upwards, and with a toddler (who had To be carried after 1/4th way, it was impossible. We still kept going till the footbridge where the bottom of..... 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.
A spectacular water falls in Yosemite. We visited during 2021 Thanksgiving. Here are few highlights 1. The total duration to reach top is around 1 hour 45 minutes with small breaks 2. Can park car down at campground 3. Walk towards Happy isles bridge 4. Start trekking in Mist trail head 5. It is most of the road is paved 6. After 3/4th of trail you to climb with steps 7. Take more water with you 8. During Spring and fall season these steps will be wet so have to be carful 9. It’s worth reaching at top
Very limited amount of waterfall if you come by September, according to the ranger the best time to see the waterfall is May, nevertheless we still had a good time hiking up. Quite a workout for our 5 year old kid and the volunteer worker here is so informative and kind.
Amazing hike - quite steep on the path to the bridge. Nice to have water and bathrooms there along the way. The 600+ stairs to the top with a winding steep staircase with railing at the end is very challenging - not recommended for anyone with knee or hip problems. Beautiful views of the falls all along the stairs though!
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