Yosemite National Park: Mist Trail


I didn’t have too much prior knowledge about Yosemite National Park, but as I was preparing to go a friend said “Be sure to hike the Mist Trail. You’ll be surrounded by rainbows.”

Rainbows Galore on the Mist Trail

I did a little more research and I wasn’t looking forward to the 600+ granite steps that make up the trail.

Granite Steps of the Mist Trail

But every single, excruciating step was worth it.

Mist Trail and Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park

I found no bad views anywhere in Yosemite, but the sights along the Mist Trail were highlights of the trip.

A waterfall in the distance in Yosemite National Park.

The Mist Trail begins near Happy Isles. I parked across from the Upper Pines Campground and walked a connector trail since parking is not available at the trailhead. The first mile of the trail is paved and often crowded. Like I’ve said for all of the hikes – get an early start. This is a good National Park rule of thumb.

Even if you have a stroller or slight mobility issues, brave the crowd and walk the first mile. As a result, you’ll see views like the one below. The scenery is worth it.

Boulders choke the Merced River downstream from Vernal Falls along the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park

If you are able, continue on and begin the climb up to Vernal Falls.

Vernal Falls from the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park

After reaching the top of Vernal Fall follow the river until you can see Nevada Fall. Keep climbing and you’ll reach the top of this waterfall as well.

Looking down Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park

You can come down the same way, but depending on seasons and trail conditions you may be able to return via the John Muir Trail. This section of the JMT opened only days prior to my visit. While I enjoyed this different perspective of the falls, but portions of the trail were flooded and icy.

Trailhead sign in Yosemite National ParkIce along the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park Icy John Muir Trail

I visited Yosemite in mid-April and that year (2016) it was perfect timing for the waterfalls. Spring runoff was in full effect and the scene was spectacular.

Here’s a video of my journey along the Mist and John Muir Trails.

Thanks again for an amazing trip Yosemite!!

Wide view of Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park

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