Yosemite National Park: Mist Trail

A short 3-mile out-and-back full of rainbows, waterfalls, and sprawling mountainside views, this Yosemite classic isn't called the Mist Trail for nothing.
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A short 3-mile out-and-back full of rainbows, waterfalls, and sprawling mountainside views, this Yosemite classic isn't called the Mist Trail for nothing.

With waterfalls come rainbows—and Yosemite’s short, moderate Mist Trail allows hikers of all abilities to promenade beneath them. Crossing the Happy Isles Bridge, head right on a paved path toward Vernal Falls Bridge and Mist Trail’s only view of Illilouette Falls. Bushwhack uphill to Sierra Point and witness the downpour of four fantastic falls: Illilouette, Vernal, Nevada, and Yosemite. After walking over the next footbridge, turn left to catch the first glance of Vernal Falls. Bear left at the three-way junction, staying on Mist Trail. Don’t forget to pack raingear, which is necessary while ascending the granite steps to Vernal Falls. After reaching the falls’ summit—and turnaround point of this trip—take a moment to enjoy the lagoon-like Silver Apron and Emerald Pool. Retrace your route back to the trailhead.

MORE INFO: Yosemite National Park, (209) 372-020; nps.gov/yose/

Mapped by Dave Miller

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 2.4

Waypoints

MIT001

Location: 37.7327271, -119.5604935

From the trailhead and shuttle stop, cross the Happy Isles Bridge then turn right onto the well-paved path. The first mile gradually ascends to the Vernal Falls Bridge. Start the trek early or on a weekday to beat the crowds.

MIT002

Location: 37.726326, -119.5568161

Illilouette Falls Vista is the only point on the Mist Trail where the falls can be viewed. The vista is located beneath Sierra Point. Famous for being the only location in Yosemite where you can see four waterfalls--Yosemite, Illilouette, Vernal, and Nevada Falls--the trail to Sierra Point was decimated by a rock slide in the 1970s.

MIT003

Location: 37.7260857, -119.5516815

Cross footbridge and head left up the Mist Trail. Get your first glimpse of Vernal Falls. Ahead, the trail continues to head east.

MIT004

Location: 37.7263107, -119.5486984

Keep left on the Mist Trail @ 3-way junction with the John Muir Trail. Prepare yourself for granite steps and plenty of moisture. Put on your rain gear and head on up. Once you get into the mist, don't forget to look back to see rainbows and, if you're lucky, double rainbows.

MIT005

Location: 37.7273636, -119.543396

At the top of Vernal Falls, take some time to dry off and gaze at the rushing waters of Vernal Falls. Before heading back, continue to the left along the Merced River. Hikers can slide down the granite at Emerald Pool and the Silver Apron when the Merced has low water levels.

Illilouette Falls

Location: 37.7263184, -119.5568085

Vernal Falls

Location: 37.7261009, -119.5516815

A view of Vernal Falls from the footbridge.

Vernal Falls

Location: 37.7273636, -119.543396

Sierra Point

Location: 37.7324142, -119.5583267