Vernal Falls Trail, Yosemite National Park Hiking

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Vernal Falls Trail

Vernal Fall can be reached via the Mist Trail, a 3-mile round trip with a rise in elevation of 1000 feet. It's a challenging hike with the payoff of spectacular views. Read More

  • Mist Trail to footbridge: 1.6 miles roundtrip 
  • Mist Trail to top of Vernal Fall: 3 miles roundtrip 
  • Heavy waterfall spray 
  • Option to continue to Nevada Fall


Although this is not an extreme hike, it's very steep, with steps cut into the cliff’s wall in the last section. When you hike in the spring or early summer you’ll get wet from waterfall spray. If you want a less strenuous hike minus the steps, but still with a great view of the falls, go as far as the footbridge. This portion is 1.6 miles in length, roundtrip, with an elevation gain of 400 feet.


The trailhead begins at Happy Isles, shuttle stop #16.


  • Distance: 3 miles roundtrip 
  • Time: 3 hours 
  • Elevation gain: 1000 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderate to strenuous 
  • Trail type: out and back
  • Trailhead: Happy Isles

Plan & Prepare

The current in the river can be treacherous, so use caution when near the river. The waterfall spray is heavy in spring and early summer, and footing can be slippery. Bears are in the area, use proper food containers. Mist Trail is closed in winter.