GART – Stop 3 – Yosemite National Park – Vernal Falls Mist Trail

Lady CurbCrusher has done a great job of describing how we spent our time in Yosemite. The only time we did different things was when the ladies went horseback riding and I went hiking. I would have liked to go horseback riding also, but they had a weight limit, and ol’ CurbCrusher exceeds the weight limit by about twenty pounds. I choose to hike to Vernal Falls instead.

I rode my bike to the beginning of the Mist trail, right before you get to the Happy Isles Nature Center. Starting up the trail is a bit
deceptive. It is a bit of a steep climb, but the trail is paved and wide enough for people to pass. The trail continues like this all the way to the Vernal Falls Footbridge, the first place that you can view Vernal Falls from. It was a bit taxing to hike up the hill, but I took my time and drank lots of water. The views of the Merced River and other falls are beautiful, as are most of the views in Yosemite.

After the break at the Footbridge, I decided that I would continue to the top of Vernal Falls on the Mist Trail. As soon as you leave the Footbridge, the nature of the trail changes. It appears that for the first few yards that the trail uphill of the bridge used to be like the trail on the other side, but it quickly becomes a broken ground with scattered rocks, not the smooth pavement you were on. As the trail climbs, it deteriorates to basically a trail. You finally come to point, where there really isn’t a “trail.” That’s because steps that have been carved out of the hill replace the trail. The steps are not the nice evenly spaced steps of a stairwell, no some are two to two and a half steps high, and some are like a baby step. As these steps start, you also find yourself getting soaked with a cool mist from the falls. As you climb up, you walk through rainbows, and see numerous rainbows throughout the mist. You finally get to a point where the “trail” narrows to about one person wide, and there is a rail on the outside. This section is a mixture of carved out steps, and just uphill walking on rocks. Finally, your emerge into the sunshine at the top of the falls.

This climb is great. As you go up the steps, you are right next to the waterfall. You can hear it and feel it. From the top you can look down as the water plunges over the granite side of the cliff. As with everywhere in Yosemite, the view from the top was great back into the valley. It was a great experience to climb to the top of Vernal Falls.

The trail continues to another falls, Nevada Falls. However, since I wanted to get back and meet Lady and Little CurbCrusher after they finished their horseback rides, I headed back down the trail. Something that I didn’t notice on the way up was that a number of the steps carved into the granite were sloped back towards the back of the step. Going up that didn’t make much difference, but coming down it was noticeable. I took about the same amount of time coming down the upper part of the trail as I did climbing it, but the lower part of the trail only took about two-thirds of the time to descend.

All in all it was a great way to spend a morning. I was not cold like the horseback riders (see Lady CurbCrushers account of the riding), I was working up a sweat. The views and the experience were great. I wish I’d had time to hike more of the waterfall trails in Yosemite.

The pictures from my hike are here.

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