The Mist Trail is probably the signature hike in Yosemite National Park. Well, either this or Half Dome, but the nice thing about this is you do not neede a permit to take this hike to the top. It pretty much has it all- great views, waterfalls, and many destinations. Since there is so much to see here the trail will be crowded, but like everything else the farther up you go the less people there will be.
The waterfalls are truly unforgettable and the hike rewards you all the way. When you start the loop back down you will get to see the Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap and the back of Half Dome. It is a wonderful hike and if you only have time to do just one hike in this wonderful national park this is the one to do.
The Mist Trail to Vernal Falls is three miles round trip, and this is where the majority will turn around and go back. I highly recommend, if you are in reasonable heath and shape, that you push on and see Nevada Falls, you will not regret it. The Mist Trail is just like it sounds you will be walking up the side of a valley into the face of Vernal Falls. If the waterfall is flowing in full force it will drench the trail with the mist that is flowing off of it. You might want to bring a poncho or wear clothes that dry quickly. This is a great place if you time it right to see a rainbow on the trail. My father-in-law and I started the trail around nine in the morning and were able to see one. Be careful on the trail due to its slipperiness the trail can be hazardous especially the closer you get to the river.
After you reach the top of Vernal Falls take the John Muir Trail to the top of Nevada Falls. This is a great place to rest and relax for the journey down. If you planned ahead you might want to bring lunch and eat it up there enjoying the views. Remember whatever you take on the hike you need to take it back out with you.
If you go all the way to the top of Nevada Falls and back it will be roughly a seven mile hike roundtrip. The hike will have an elevation gain of close to 1900 feet. I would label the hike as a moderate to almost strenuous. This is the tough part of the hike but it is well worth it. Like I wrote before it is a must-do hike in Yosemite National Park. Take your time with it and make sure you bring plenty of water and something to eat for energy on the hike.
There is parking at the trailhead, but usually that will be full. If you get there early enough you might have a chance at parking there, but it tends to fill up early due to the numbers of people that are hiking Half Dome. An alternate parking spot is back at Curry Village where you can hike from there to reach the trailhead or take the free shuttle bus.
Happy Hiking and Good Trails!
To read about other hikes like the Mist Trail that Karen and I have been on click here.
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