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Hiking in Yosemite

The (short) uphill trek to Vernal Falls

At just under two miles ( 3 km )from the Merced riverbed in Yosemite Valley, the hike to Yosemite's Vernal Fall is a short part-day hike to the crest of Vernal Falls with a big scenic reward for even the most novice of hiker. The High Sierra Loop trail, and the later, Mist Trail is part of a network of Yosemite Trails that interconnects with the famous John Muir Trail. Hikers can continue on further to such places as Nevada Falls, Glacier Point, and even Tuolomne Meadows for hikers who are planning to camp out. Nevertheless, the short climb to Vernal falls is perfect for those traveling light and want to get up close to one of Yosemite's natural wonders.

The the last opportunity to leave your vehicle and begin your hike is just past Curry Village at the Uppper Pines campground. From there is brief walk to the Nature Center at Happy Isles where you cross the bridge to the hiking trail awaiting on the other side of the Merced river. As you begin, it is a gentle upward hike along the Merced river eventually reaching the Vernal Falls bridge. This leg of the trail is accomodating for inexperienced hikers and those with bringing their small children along.

Cross the Merced river at the bridge and you'll find a fork in the trail. The Mist trail follows the flow of the Merced river and continues the ascent to the top of Vernal Fall. The remaining half mile from the bridge becomes slightly more challenging as the trail beomes more narrow. The steepest part of this climb is about a fifth of a mile ( 0.25 km ) where carved stones in the trail make for a steep granite staircase. From this point in the trail you'll already be feeling the droplets of mist from the fall itself. This is particularly a relief on a hot day. Although it is not too strenuous, the final portion of the ascent opens out into a stunning view placing the hiker a few yards ( meters ) away from the fall itself.

Once you've arrived you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Merced River snaking away into the valley, the thunderous sound of Vernal Falls, or you can choose to continue on further to Emerald Pool immediately upsteam from the fall. The Mist Trail will continue upstream along the Merced to Nevada Fall. The continuing hike to Nevada Fall is about three times the distance, considering the return trip, however. Making the full hike to Nevada Fall may be a full day hike for some any you may want to consider backpacks and additional supplies.

Keywords: Yosemite National Park, Vernal Fall, Vernal Falls, Nevada Fall, waterfalls, climb, hiking, trails

the view of Yosemite Valley by roadVernal falls flows year-round, lightly in late November

High Sierra Loop Trail Distances from Happy IslesDistances from the trailhead

the rim of Vernal FallsThe crest of the falls

view of Merced River from the crest of Vernal FallView of the Merced river from the fall

granite steps to Vernal Fall on the Mist TrailGranite steps along the Mist trail for your ascent to the top of Vernal Fall

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