Stepping leading up Mist Trail, with waterfall in the background, surrounded by pine forests

Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park

Updated by Pat Dorri on December 6 2023

If you are visiting Yosemite National Park then Mist Trail, often dubbed a "landmark hike" and one of the most popular trails, should definitely be on the itinerary. This hike might test your stamina, but as you ramble along granite stairways, past waterfalls and forests, the effort is certainly rewarded.

An overview of the distance and difficulty hiking Mist Trail
πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ Distance6.4 miles
⏱️ Time4 hours and 10 minutes
πŸ’ͺ DifficultyModerate/Advanced
πŸ”οΈ Elevation GainUp to 2,208 feet

Where can I find Mist Trail within Yosemite National Park?

Mist Trail is located within Yosemite Valley, and easily reachable from Arch Rock Entrance, Big Oak Flat Entrance and South Entrance, which are about equal distances away.

By following Southside Drive (a 2-lane road) and then brown signs for Curry Village in Eastern Yosemite Valley, you will get you to the parking lot and trailhead.

What makes this hike so special?

Featuring two of the most beloved waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, this hike has it all - from dramatic views of the Merced River on one side, to the rugged views of Liberty Cap and Mount Broderick in the distance.

[th]Feature[/th][th]Our rating[/th]
How we rate the different aspects of Mist Trail Hike
Natural beauty and scenery⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wildlife spotting⭐⭐⭐
Peace and quiet⭐⭐
Sunrise through Yosemite Valley with the Merced River in the foreground.
Head out early and you can enjoy a stunning sunrise across Merced River.

What are the highlights of hiking Mist Trail?

Spend half a day hiking Mist Trail and you won't be disappointed, with plenty of amazing natural wonders to admire as you explore this area. Make sure to spend a little time marvelling at some of our favorite hike highlights.

  1. Vernal Falls - This impressive waterfall on the Merced River is renowned for the stunning rainbow that often appears in its mist during sunny afternoons.
  2. Nevada Falls - Towering at nearly 600 feet, Nevada Falls has a jaw-dropping cascade that freezes during winter.
  3. Liberty Cap - Rising proudly above the valley, Liberty Cap is a distinctive granite dome that offers views of the surrounding Yosemite landscape.
  4. Merced River - Flowing through Yosemite Valley, the Merced River offers amazing views and various recreational activities such as fishing, rafting, and swimming at certain spots.

When is the best time of year to visit Mist Trail?

Mist Trail promises to be stunning regardless of which month you visit, however during late spring to early summer the waterfalls are at their most powerful and spectacular, and the weather is mild and pleasant for hiking.

When is the best time to visit Mist Trail
Spring🌷 Visit in spring and the waterfall flows are at their highest and most impressive - but expect to get wet!
Summerβ˜€οΈ Summer is peak season in Yosemite so this popular trail can be enjoyed in the warmer weather - but there will be crowds
FallπŸ‚ The weather is cooler making a hike particularly pleasant through changing fall colors, plus it is less busy than spring and summer
Winter❄️ Colder conditions can make the trail dangerous. The lower portion of Mist Trail along Vernal Fall closes due to risk of falling ice and rock

Common questions about hiking Mist Trail

The incredible waterfalls, landscape and stairways along this popular hike are the reasons why so many people choose to hike Mist Trail when they visit Yosemite National Park. If you are looking to also hike Mist Trail then please check out our list of things to consider before you head off.

Is Mist Trail easily accessible for those with mobility issues?

❗ No, Mist Trail is not easily accessible for those with mobility issues. You can expect steep steps, slippery surfaces, and a strenuous hike.

❗ Parts of the trail might be closed due to trail work, so please check ahead of your visit to avoid disappointment.

Are there restrooms along Mist Trail?

β­• Yes, there are restrooms along Mist Trail at the first overlook, top of both Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, and at Curry Village.

Are there refreshments and water stations along Mist Trail?

β­• Yes, during summer there are water stations along Mist Trail at Vernal Fall footbridge. A convenience store and restaurants can also be found at Curry Village.

Are dogs allowed along Mist Trail?

❌ No, dogs are not allowed along Mist Trail.

Are vehicles allowed along Mist Trail?

❌ No, cars, electric scooters, and ATVs are not allowed on Mist Trail. Mist Trail is a pedestrian-only trail designed for hikers.

Can you camp overnight along Mist Trail (or nearby)?

β­• Yes, you can camp overnight near Mist Trail. Popular Lower Pines Campground, Upper Pines Campground and North Pines Campground are all nearby. Backpacker's Campground is also a short distance away.

Is there anything else to watch out for when I hike Mist Trail?

Bring waterproof gear if you are hiking the trail during early spring because you will get” jumped-into-the-sea” level of wet!

The river here might look calm but it has dangerous currents going through it, so be extra careful and do not approach the river. Areas around Vernal Falls can also get slippery, so be cautious.

Rainbow peeking through the rocky landscape at Vernal Falls travelling along The Mist Trail
Make sure to linger at Vernal Falls where you might spot a sunny afternoon rainbow appearing.
Phillip Sunkel IV/