The climb to Nevada Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the park so don't expect solitude. That said, it is a fantastic hike. It is not quite as hard as the Upper Yosemite Falls and far more interesting a walk as well. You climb 2000 feet over approximately 3 miles to the top of this gushing waterfall. There is a bridge that allows you to almost walk on top of the falls. There are some great rocky spots to get views literally down the falls and also some prime picnicking spots along the river feeding the falls.
The best part is you can take a different route back even though the John Muir up affords some amazing views on the way up. The Mist Trail back is an exciting and wet walk that will bring you by Vernal Falls and spray you with "mist" en route.
Allow ample time for this six-mile loop as you'll want to linger on top and to avoid some of the crowds get an early start from the Happy Isles trailhead.
Nevada Falls is just above Vernal Falls and would be a moderately strenuous hike if the Mist Trail was open. During our visit, we had to detour around the Mist Trail, adding about 3 miles to our hike, plus about 500 extra feet in elevation change each way, all the way up to Clark Point on the John Muir Trail.
From Vernal Falls the hike to Nevada Falls is just 1.3 miles, but the strenuous route rises another 1,000 feet in elevation and takes about 45 minutes. If the Mist Trail is open, the total route from Happy Isles is 2.8 miles each way. In the winter you have to detour via the John Muir Trail and the trip each way is 3.7 miles each way.
Nevada Falls drops 594 feet from top to bottom with the water looking more like flour on the way down. The Falls are located right beside the towering granite peak called Liberty Cap which towers 1100 feet above the falls. After Nevada Falls, the Merced River continues across the Silver Apron into the Emerald Poll before dropping off the Vernal Falls.
After Vernal falls you can continue on toward the top of Nevada Falls.
It too is worth the hike.
I recommend hiking up one way (going over the bridge initially hiking on the side left of the waterfall) and hiking down the other way.
The view is staggering. And it`ll really make your heart pound in your chest. For those that have a slight fear of heights it`ll scare you.
Falling 594', is located above Vernal Fall in an area known as the Giant Staircase. It is best viewed from Glacier Point, but can be accessed via the Mist Trail.
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