Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 Reviews

Yosemite National Park (209) 372-0200

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  • Vernals Falls via John Muir Trail
    Vernals Falls via John Muir Trail
    by KevinMichael
  • view from the top of Vernal fall
    view from the top of Vernal fall
    by WBeall
  • Vernal Fall
    Vernal Fall
    by WBeall
  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Vernal Falls

    by richiecdisc Updated Sep 24, 2009

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    Vernal Falls flowing well in June
    1 more image

    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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  • acemj's Profile Photo

    Vernal Falls

    by acemj Updated Jun 15, 2004

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    The first big attraction along the Mist Trail is Vernal Falls. It's a short uphill climb to the Vernal Fall footbridge where you'll have great views of the waterfall. In the high season, expect crowds. The water will be at its peak in spring and early summer so if you continue along the path just to the right of the falls, expect to get wet! They don't call this the Mist Trail for nothin'! It's so steep at this point, that there are steps built into the stone in order to help you navigate the path. The views from the top are great. If you have the energy, I would definitely suggest continuing on to . . . my next tip.

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  • jag17's Profile Photo

    Hike To The Top

    by jag17 Written Jun 16, 2004

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    Shower Time

    The hike to Vernal Falls seemed to be one of the more popular hikes in Yosemite. Standing at the top (5,044ft) was a definite challenge. When you see the sign that tells you it's only 2.3 miles, you think to yourself, "of course, I can hike 2 miles". They fail to mention the altitude, the steepness of many parts of it, and the fact that you will get a shower as you near the top. Time of year and snowfall determine just how wet you will get! We hiked on a sunny day and soon dried off to enjoy the beautiful views, and a picnic at the top. It is a strenuous (but not impossible) hike for those not in shape. Be prepared, and bring plenty of water.

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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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  • frank_delargy's Profile Photo

    Take the hike up toward Vernal Falls

    by frank_delargy Written Dec 20, 2004

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    Vernal Falls in April

    Vernal Falls are at the East end of the valley and getting to them is more of a hike than to Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls. The hike up (and there is a grade) is enjoyable as you walk near the river most of the time, with plenty of chances to sit and put your feet in the river or just watch the rapids.
    When you get to the part where you can see the falls, the view is stunning. You can scramble closer to the falls through the misty trail and can get to the top of the falls and beyond quite easily.

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  • pigletsmom's Profile Photo

    Hike up to Vernal Falls

    by pigletsmom Updated Feb 21, 2004

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    Spectacular Vernal Falls

    Vernal Falls is a lovely wide waterfall with gushing proportions in Springtime and early summer. The hike is pretty mild and not too far. You'll be pleased when you get there, Vernal Falls is absolutely lovely. The great thing about this hike, is that for just 1.5 miles of hiking you get rewarded with the most beautiful waterfall Yosemite has to offer. Pack a picnic lunch and get hiking! If you keep on hiking, you'll reach Nevada Falls, which is also beautiful.

    *** One thing, I would not recommend either of these hikes in winter. The hiking path can get very slippery with ice, and very dangerous.

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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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  • JanPeter74's Profile Photo

    Waterfalls in Yosemite National Park

    by JanPeter74 Written Apr 21, 2004

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    Vernal Falls in September

    Actually I should put this tip under Warnings and Dangers. But when I look at myself, I often look mostly at the Must See section.

    Yosemite is filled with spectacular waterfalls. Mostly around Yosemite Valley. (e.g. Yosemite Falls (upper and lower combined) are the second-highest waterfall in the world.)

    BUT

    Bear in mind that all the spectacular waterfalls here turn dry during the summer. So if you are really into waterfalls, you better come here before the second half of July or so. I do not know exactly when they turn dry, but when we were there mid-September, hardly any water could be seen. Compare the pic to the left with the one in the next tip.

    This also goes for MIRROR LAKE; no lake, no mirror, just a pool.

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  • Andraf's Profile Photo

    Vernal Fall

    by Andraf Updated Feb 28, 2004

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    Vernal Fall, Yosemite

    The trail that takes hikers to Vernal Fall is appropriately called the Mist Trail. On its last portion - before getting to the top of the Vernal Fall - the trail passes in front of the 320ft tall fall which sprays the trail with a fine mist that will most likely get you all wet in no time. The first time you can see Vernal Fall is on a bridge lookout and you can stop there if you don't want to get wet, but that will be a pity.

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  • MarvintheMartian's Profile Photo

    Walking to Vernal Falls

    by MarvintheMartian Updated Jan 3, 2004

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    Vernal Falls from a Distance

    These waterfalls roar with snow-melt suring spring and this is an excellent 6 mile round trip which will suit most walkers from beginner to veteran.

    During my visit in August the falls were still impressive and the view beyond towards Liberty Cap is just amazing - there is a picture in my travelogue.

    To get to the falls start at the Curry Village parking lot and walk down the road at the lot's southeast corner. After a half-mile's hile you will get to Happy Isles. Follow signs across the river to the start of the Mist Trail.

    There is a reason it is called the Mist Trail. Springtime hikers will get soaked by the spray of Vernal Falls, just make sure you have a way to keep your camera equipment dry.

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  • MarvintheMartian's Profile Photo

    Good View from the Mist Trail

    by MarvintheMartian Written Dec 30, 2003

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    View of the falls in August 2003

    This shot was taken from just off the main trail up to Vernal Falls. This is one of the more popular walks yet it is still not packed with people.

    Be good - take plenty of water and don't leave any rubbish anywhere!

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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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  • PA2AKgirl's Profile Photo

    Hiking in the Valley

    by PA2AKgirl Updated Dec 12, 2003

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    vernal falls

    In the spring, there is a lot of water in Yosemite. In the late summer, not so much. Seeing the waterfalls is something that needs to be done early in the season and Vernal Falls is a pretty good hike. You can go up the bridge and see the Falls or you can go the whole way up TO them and beyond. You'll encounter people, but it's not as bad as the "commercial" area of the 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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  • 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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