How To Get To Vernal Falls In Yosemite

Are you planning a trip with your friends or family to Vernal Falls in Yosemite? You’re maybe wondering how to get there.

It’s not complicated to see its spectacular view. Within three hours, you can bond with your loved ones. Here’s how:

How Many Different Ways Are There to Get to Vernal Falls

There are two trails available for visitors to follow to visit Vernal Falls. You should decide on the trail that best fits your experience and physical fitness. Both trails boast their breathtaking views and experiences. It would be helpful to know your preference. 

All hikers start at the Happy Isles Nature Center located in the Yosemite National Park. This venue boasts exhibits related to nature to more than yearly 10,000 visitors. 

From Happy Isles, you have two trail options: The Mist or the John Muir Trail.

1. The Mist Trail

This signature trail is known to be the busiest within Yosemite National Park. Located in the eastern Yosemite Valley, the Mist Trail is quite difficult and lengthy. While traversing this trail, you will enjoy the fresh air and several sceneries along with it. Ultimately, the spectacular view of the Vernal Falls in Yosemite awaits after a few hours.

A great crowd chooses to hike along this trail; your time of visit affects your experience. 

2.  The John Muir Trail

Situated in Yosemite National Park, this paved trail starts with an asphalt surface. It is considered to be a moderate level hike. Suitable for less experienced visitors. The beginning of the trail is easy to trek but becomes steep towards the Vernal Falls footbridge. 

Most people complete their hikes by going down through the Mist Trail or vice versa. This way, you will enjoy both views from the two different trails in an easier way.

The best months to visit the Mist Trail and Vernal Falls in Yosemite are from April to July. This period is considered to be the trail’s runoff season. It may be dangerous to visit in winter because of the slippery trail. If you’re an adventurous hiker, you may enjoy the experience as long as you wear proper gear.

Deciding on the month is not the only consideration you have to do. It is also advisable to hike as early as 7 in the morning to avoid crowds. Most visitors hike along this trail in the afternoon. So it’s best to avoid it to appreciate your view completely.

Some also opt to wait for the afternoon visitors to finish their hikes before they start theirs. If you prefer this, you should prepare gear such as headlamps or flashlights to help you trek in the dark.

Among the two trails, the John Muir Trail is the recommended option for beginners. This is because the Mist Trail is much steeper and more dangerous for new hikers. In the Mist Trail, hundreds of wet stones will serve as your stepping ground. If you are unprepared for that, it might be too risky to trek.

If you are adventurous and experienced, you will definitely enjoy the Mist Trail. Many enjoy the excitement of walking on the slippery staircases and wet stones. If you choose this trail, be ready, for it is famous for hikers who enjoy getting drenched in the mist. 

Bathrooms and several stops to regain your energy are present along the trails. You will be able to have snacks and rest for a while if you get tired of the hike. It is also a good chance to simply pause and enjoy the view before you continue. Once replenished, you can proceed to hike and reach the famous Vernal Falls in Yosemite.

How Far is the Hike to Vernal Falls

For a safer hike, you may take the longer John Muir Trail, approximately 8 km, compared to the Mist Trail’s 4 km. It is necessary to know these details to prepare your water and snacks as well as your schedule.

Starting from the Happy Isles Nature Center, you will have to trek 1.3 kilometers to reach the footbridge. There, you will see the breathtaking overview of the Vernal Falls. This is where you choose which trail you will take – the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail? If you choose the more popular Must Trail, you will have to take over 600 granite stairs. 

The hundreds of steps may be tiring, but the fantastic view and cold from the mist will make it worth it. You might even sight a rainbow along with the 317-feet Vernal Falls! After enjoying the view, you may choose to return through the Mist Trail.

Another option is to return to Yosemite Valley by taking the John Muir Trail. Many people choose two different routes to enjoy the scenery other than the ones they saw going up. If you take the John Muir Trail, you will marvel over the views of the Liberty Cap and many views of the Nevada Falls.

Can You Drive to Vernal Falls

Water in the Verna Falls is fast and cold despite its relatively low height. It is not possible to view the Vernal Falls in Yosemite by car, and you will have to park your car and trek. 

It is possible to drive up to Yosemite Village only. However, finding a parking spot may be difficult due to the crowd. In fact, taking a shuttle is more advisable than taking your own car, so you can trek on time. 

The recommended way to reach Vernal Falls is by riding the Valley Visitor Shuttle. Afterward, get off Shuttle Stop 16, which is to the happy isles Nature Center. The shuttle rides start at 7 in the morning and end at 10 in the evening. By doing this, you have the option to walk along the Curry Village before you start your hike.

How Long is the Vernal Falls Hike

On average, it would take two to five hours to reach the Vernal Falls in Yosemite. Depending on the trail you choose, you can finish it in as early as two hours. In addition, your experience and physical fitness are also to be considered.

The abovementioned times are only for the hikes themselves. If you would like to enjoy the view, take more stops, and walk longer, it will take much longer. Many visitors are also interested in walking along the Curry Village. If you intend to do the same, you will have to add about 2 kilometers of travel. 

The number of people in the area will also affect your time to complete the time. The more congested the trails, the longer it takes to Vernal Falls and return to Yosemite Village. This is one of the many reasons for you to carefully plan and visit at a time with fewer people.

How Hard is the Vernal Falls Hike

Generally, the hike ranges from moderate to strenuous. It will only be difficult if you decide to continue hiking to reach Nevada Falls. For an average person, the difficulty of the Mist Trail is average. But you have to be prepared for several challenges. 

You have to remember that Vernal Falls is one of the most powerful falls in the Yosemite Valley area. The difficulty will increase as you get closer to Vernal Falls because of the mist and uneven steps. 


The Vernal Falls in Yosemite will not be as famous as it is now if not for the feedback from its visitors. And with the crowd’s regular visits, you can say that any person can enjoy the hike, particularly on top. Some visitors even bring their children with them as well as grandparents!

When having nature trips, be mindful of feeding wildlife as it may cause you danger. You also have to remember to respect nature by not leaving your trash and taking anything on site. The memories you will make and knowing that didn’t damage nature are enough to stay with you. 

Like various events, thorough preparation and planning will save you lots of time. You can avoid the risks mentioned with proper attire and essential gear. It is helpful to know that bathrooms and water will be available. But it’s advisable that you bring your own water and snacks. Hiking could be tiring, and you will need to replenish your energy by drinking and eating. So ensure to bring what you need and more!

Other sites feature the main destination alone. But the hike to Vernal Falls in Yosemite is more special. The reason is because of the countless magnificent views that will welcome you on your visit. If you have three hours to spare with your loved ones, the hike to Vernal Falls is the perfect getaway.

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