Hiking the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park

vernal falls in Yosemite national park
vernal falls in Yosemite national park

Miles: 3 miles round trip to Vernal Fall, 7 miles round trip to Nevada Fall. If you walk from Curry Village instead of catching a shuttle bus to the trailhead, add an extra 1.5 miles round trip.

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet to the top of Vernal Fall; 1,900 feet to top of Nevada Fall.

Permits: Only for Half Dome, not for the Mist Trail

Dogs Allowed: No


The Mist Trail is one of Yosemite’s most iconic hikes. It’s the start of the Half Dome trail but it also goes past Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. It’s called the Mist Trail for a reason because you get misted by the falls on your hike! On a hot summer day, it’s so refreshing.


Best Time to Hike the Mist Trail

The spring and summer months are the best time to visit. This is when the falls will be flowing the most.


In the fall months, the falls might be dried up or only trickling. So if you’re looking to really see the falls at their fullest, fall might not be the best time.


In the winter, the trail gets closed sometimes because it becomes dangerous, if it’s closed, always follow directions for your safety.


Things to Keep In Mind

Although the trail is on the shorter side, it’s steep! So bring enough water and food with you and be prepared to hike anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.


Since the Mist Trail is one of the more popular hikes in Yosemite, it can get crowded. If you want to avoid the crowds, go first thing in the morning! You’ll also have a better chance of getting a parking spot.

Parking at the Mist Trail

The nearest parking lot is the trailhead parking lot (right before the road closure) just east of Curry Village (Half Dome Village). If the parking lot is full, you can park on the side of the road.


If you don’t get a parking spot near the trailhead, take the shuttle to the trailhead.


Bathrooms on the Trail

There are several bathrooms along the trail. There are bathrooms right before the bridge that takes you to the trailhead, there are some before you start heading up to Vernal Falls on the trail, at the top of Vernal Falls, and at the top of Nevada Falls.


Follow the “Leave No Trace” Rules

When visiting any national park or wilderness area, it’s so important to follow Leave No Trace Principals.


Please pack out all of your trash, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen and picked up trash on and off of the trail. Don’t be that person and leave these areas we all share better than we found them. If you see someone else littering, take the opportunity to politely educate them.


Don’t feed wildlife. Please store the food from your car and campsite correctly in the bear lockers provided at the trailhead or the campground. And don’t feed the squirrels and chipmunks on the trail. I know they’re cute, but it hurts the ecosystem. For more information on why you shouldn’t feed wildlife, read this blog post.


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