Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite National Park (209) 372-0200

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  • view from the top of Vernal fall
    view from the top of Vernal fall
    by WBeall
  • Vernal fall
    Vernal fall
    by WBeall
  • Vernal Fall
    Vernal Fall
    by WBeall
  • WBeall's Profile Photo

    About a 1000 foot incline

    by WBeall Written Oct 3, 2013
    Vernal Fall
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    The trail up to Vernal falls was very nice and you can tell they keep up with it. It was a hard hike to the bridge which is just a view of the falls and the incline was pretty much straight up the entire time. But it was completely worth it and you can take all the time in the world to get there. I did not think I would want to keep going to the top of the falls but I surprised myself and my husband by saying lets keep going! Once we got to the falls I decided I would stay towards the bottom and he can keep going to the top. There are about 1000 stairs to the top. I found myself a great place to watch him climb up the stairs and I could see all the way to the bottom of the falls, it was beautiful. My husband took about 30 min to go to the top, take pictures and back to where I was sitting. It was a great hike with a great view. We went in September and the fall was almost to a trickle so I am sure towards the beginning of the summer it was absolutely stunning when it is flowing hard!

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  • ddbleu's Profile Photo

    Climb to Vernal Falls

    by ddbleu Updated Oct 17, 2010

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    The bridge looking up Vernal Falls
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    The trail is rather steep but well worth the walk. Lots of people take this hike and the trail is crowded. You reach a bridge and there are great views of the falls. Go about another half mile, and you can get up to the top of the falls, however the last part is narrow and would be really hard on the knees coming down on big rock steps...since I didn't have a walking stick, I turned around before going to the top.

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Vernal Falls

    by richiecdisc Updated Sep 24, 2009

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    Vernal Falls flowing well in June
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    The 317 foot Vernal Falls is one of the most heavily flowing of the park's waterfalls though by mid-summer it is reduced to two smaller bands. While you can hike directly to this incredible sight, there are great views of it from the Panorama Trail as well.

    The actual hike to the falls is via the John Muir or Mist Trails and you can make a loop of the two though the latter is closed in winter due to slippery conditions. Depending on how you tackle it, you're looking at 3 miles and a 1000 feet of elevation. It will take about three hours if you want to get right to the top and be prepared for some tricky footing and lots of spray on the Mist Trail which is very appropriately named!

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  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    Nevada and Vernal Falls

    by VeronicaG Updated Aug 20, 2007

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    Vernal Falls (bottom); Nevada Falls (top)

    As we surveyed the vista from Glacier Point, we could see a dynamic landscape highlighted by frothing, dancing waterfalls.

    The rapidly flowing Nevada and Vernal Falls can both be clearly seen. Although it's July, both of these falls still have vital, healthy flows issuing from their heights!

    NEVADA FALLS is 594 feet tall and has a dependable year round flow, which peaks in late May. It sits above Vernal Falls in an area referred to as the "giant staircase".

    VERNAL FALLS flows all year, but from mid to late summer it can form two or three separate falls as the supply of water lessens. It's 317 feet high.

    Please enlarge the photo to see these shimmery cascades.

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  • DJMist's Profile Photo

    Hike up Vernal Falls

    by DJMist Written Jun 7, 2007

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    Can you hear the roar?

    A great hike. Moderate difficulty. Should take an average person 4-5 hours round trip including time to stop and snap LOTS of pictures. We went on a warm day but the spray from the falls was refreshingly cool. I can imagine on a cooler day it may make the top half of the hike a bit uncomfortable. It would still be worth it though. The hike circuit winds away from the falls for the trek down. That portion is dry but no less visually spectacular.

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  • acebruin's Profile Photo

    Vernal Falls

    by acebruin Updated Jun 1, 2007

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    Vernal Falls from the stairs on Mist Trail
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    The top of the falls is about 3 miles round trip via Mist Trail. The last half mile of the trail is the most challenging and yet rewarding part. With a lot of waterfalls spray especially during the spring and early summer months, rainbows appear all over the falls. This is how the name Mist Trail comes from.

    As you hike up Mist Trail, just before the footbridge, you can get a glimpse of Illilouette Falls to the right. The view will disappear as you get closer to the bridge and past the bridge. The first view of Vernal Falls you get at the footbridge. This is where it's time to go to the bathroom and restock on drinking water. Once you pass the bridge, it's the ascend to the top via over 600 steps of steep granite steps. The trail ascends 1000 feet. This part of the trail is closed during winter.

    At the top of the falls, you can enjoy the view as the water falls from the edge. Emerald Pool and Silver Apron are on top as well. It gets really crowded at the top with tourists during summer months. If you have the energy continue on the Mist Trail for another 1.3 miles to the top of Nevada Falls.

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  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Vernal Falls

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 14, 2007

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    View of Vernal Falls from below Clark Point
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    Vernal Falls is one of the easy hiking destinations of Yosemite Valley, located just 1.5 miles from Happy Isles and the far end of Upper Pines Campground where we camped. From Happy Isles, the trail is very well marked. At the .8 mile point you will cross a bridge over the Merced River offering a view of the falls about a half mile in the distance. Just past the bridge, The Mist Trail branches off and takes you straight to the falls through the mist at the base of the falls. Unfortunately this trail is closed in winter. We took the much longer detour over Clark Point on the John Muir Trail, making it 3 miles to the falls from Happy Isles rather than just 1.5 miles via the Mist Trail. The hike from Happy Isles to Vernal Falls has about a 1000 foot rise in elevation. From the top of Vernal Falls, it is just another 1.3 miles to the top of Nevada Falls, but the trail is very steep and relatively difficult due to the unstable footing.

    Vernal Falls has a 317 foot drop, making it one of the smaller falls in Yosemite, but it has a wide, powerful path over the rocky cliff, making it more spectacular than some of the others which seem to be not much more than a trickle. Originally called Yanopa by the local Indians, Lafayette Bunnell, coined the name Vernal Falls in 1851.

    Here is some video I shot of the falls in April 2007: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=2022390933

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  • Fewf's Profile Photo

    World-Class, and Right There

    by Fewf Written Oct 6, 2006
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    Easy hike to what some say is one of the most beautiful falls in the world. If you're in any sort of decent shape, take the stairs to the top, too. It's well worth it. But please, DON'T FEED THE SQUIRRELS.

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  • chewy3326's Profile Photo

    Top of Vernal Fall

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 1, 2006

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    Top of Vernal Fall
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    It's a 3-mile round trip hike with a elevation gain of 1000 feet to the top of Vernal Fall from Yosemite Valley. The view from the top of the fall isn't quite as beautiful as the view from the Mist Trail; there really isn't much of a view of the falls as really just the brink of the falls. Railings lead from the trail downhill to the brink, where you can see the Merced River free-fall 317 feet. Vernal Fall is probably the most graceful of all the Yosemite waterfalls; it lacks the power of either Yosemite or Nevada Falls, though. The top will be crowded.

    When I was at the top of the falls, I was annoyed by people doing things like dropping appples into the Merced River so it would rush over the falls. While you're here, please respect both the natural features and other visitors; don't do anything stupid.

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  • chewy3326's Profile Photo

    Mist Trail

    by chewy3326 Updated Jul 1, 2006

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    Vernal Fall

    Past Photographer's Point, the Mist Trail soon leaves the forest and becomes a staircase on a rocky slope facing Vernal Fall. This is perhaps the best part of the Mist Trail; from here to about the top of Vernal Fall, you'll be consistently showered with the mist of the fall. As you keep walking, the view just keeps getting better; expect to get completely wet (this includes your camera, and anything you have in your daypack or backpack. After hiking this section, I found out my Lonely Planet hiking guide was soaked... if you have some things you wouldn't want to get wet, either don't pack them, or put them in something waterproof). The trail passes through a rock tunnel and then gets even wetter (if possible). I came during June of a particularly snowy year; coming later in summer, you'll probably find the flow of the fall reduced, and get alot less wet. The mist will be comfortable, since the Mist Trail at this point will be climbing steeply up a rock staircase (There are at least 500 or something steps).

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  • chewy3326's Profile Photo

    Photographer's Rock

    by chewy3326 Updated Jul 1, 2006

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    Vernal Fall and Liberty Cap

    From the Vernal Fall Footbridge, the Mist Trail/John Muir Trail continues for about 1/10 of a mile to a fork where the two trails split. The John Muir Trail leads to the top of Nevada Fall; the Mist Trail reaches the top of Nevada Fall via Vernal Fall. A sign at the trail junction incorrectly says "Top of Vernal Fall: 0.3 miles"; it's actually a little over 1/2 mile. From there, the trail ascends along the swollen and rapid-filled Merced River about 0.2 miles to the famous Photographer's Rock. The short spur trail that leads to the rock isn't signed; you'll have to look out for the giant rock on the side of the Merced River. Chances are, though, that there will be plenty of people there, so you'll know where to go. Near the point, there's a small sign with a John Muir quote, and another sign warning of slippery rocks. Venture out on the rock itself, and you'll find what's probably the best overall view of Vernal Fall. Liberty Cap looms behind the waterfall, and the Merced River is framed by trees as it splashes downstream towards Yosemite Valley.

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  • chewy3326's Profile Photo

    Vernal Fall Footbridge

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 1, 2006

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    Vernal Fall

    From the Mist Trail/High Sierra Loop/John Muir Trail Trailhead, you can hike just 1.5 miles round trip to a view of Vernal Fall. From the shuttle bus stop at Happy Isles, follow the trail along the north bank of the Merced River. The trail soon passes the large "High Sierra Loop Trail" sign and then begins to climb steeply. You'll pass an interpretive sign about rock slides and talus along the way. After climbing for a few minutes, the trail reaches a good view of Yosemite Falls; a bit farther on, you'll get you're first glimpses of Illilouette Falls, hidden in its deep gorge. The views of the falls get better and better as the trail keeps ascending; then the fall will disappear from your view as you descend to the Vernal Fall footbridge over the Merced River. On the bridge, you'll see Vernal Fall in the distance with Liberty Cap rising behind it. At the bridge, you'll find drinking water as well as restrooms. Expect plenty of people.

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  • Andraf's Profile Photo

    Nevada Fall

    by Andraf Updated May 17, 2005

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    Nevada Fall, Yosemite

    After getting to Vernal Fall, the Mist Trail continues for another two miles to the top of Nevada Fall where it joins the John Muir Trail. This part of the trail (from Vernal to Nevada Fall) is more strenous than its first part to Vernal Fall. You can take the John Muir Trail to descend back to Yosemite Valley. This one gets around the back of the Half Dome. Good hikers can continue from Nevada Fall to the top of the Half Dome (about 10 miles round trip). Some portions of the Mist Trail are closed in winter due to snow.

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  • MarvintheMartian's Profile Photo

    Liberty Cap from Vernal Falls

    by MarvintheMartian Updated Jan 23, 2005

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    Liberty Cap is an amazing sight!

    Once you reach the first waterfalls along the John Meir trail you will find a fantastic view of Liberty Cap.

    You can continue along the trail up to the next set of waterfalls and I'm sure the views will continue to be just as breathtaking.

    In summer the small lake is a great place to cool off in - so take a dip, but wear a pair of tennis shoes or something and take heed of the warnings where not to swim.

    Well worth the effort!

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  • KevinMichael's Profile Photo

    Vernal Falls: It`s a Hike but well worth it

    by KevinMichael Updated Jan 9, 2005

    The reason to hike up to the top of Vernal Falls is simply because if you haven`t done it before it`s almost like you really haven`t seen Yosemite. Climbing to the top of Vernal Falls gives you a real feeling for the grandeur and immensity that has shapped Yosemite.

    I took a group of 30 YMCA kids back in 1992 to the top. At first, most of them didn`t want to go, but after they did they thanked me so much for convincing them to do so. Only 2 kids stayed behind down below with a counselor. They`ll never know what they missed.

    My wife and I climbed to the top, took a rest and then we headed on for more... Nevada Falls.

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