The best thing we did in Yosemite was the Mist Trail. It’s one of Yosemite’s signature hikes and for good reason: you get up close and personal with a waterfall. There’s also potential to make it two waterfalls!
The hike to Vernal Fall is three miles (4.8k). This sounds easy and “totally doable” but, I am warning you now, most of the trail is on a 60˚ angle. It’s a killer. Ten minutes into it my calf muscles were stabbing me with little needles begging for a rest.
Luckily, there are a few places to catch your breath. The first is the bridge overlook. This is your last chance to use a proper toilet and refill water bottles. You’ll get a glimpse of Vernal Fall here and consider heading back down the trail. The hike does get harder from this point but a cute overweight squirrel will encourage you by mouthing, “keep on going, lazy”. You will laugh, feel recharged and continue on.
The misty part of the Mist Trail begins just after the bridge overlook. By this point any and all forms of water are welcome. Don’t underestimate how much mist will actually spray at you though. We had our camera in hand and, almost, regretted it later.
You’ll come face-to-face with Vernal Fall at this point. It will feel like if you lean in hard enough or make a jump for it, you could touch it. Don’t try it. You will fall into the stream, which is going at such a rapid pace that no one will be able to save you until the waterfall spits you out at the bottom of the river and by then it will be too late.
You might think about turning back at this point but keep going! You want to see the waterfall from over top. The railing along the viewing platform will be littered with people. Wait your turn but definitely push in there. You’ll also find a lot of open space to sit, enjoy a snack and talk to more squirrels.
There is good news if you are continuing on to Nevada Fall (a seven mile roundtrip), the trail becomes less steep. So hike on, young warrior, and let me know what that famous view from Nevada Fall is like. We didn’t go all the way up, to be honest.
I know, I know – we’re so lazy.