Vernal Falls Trail or The Mist Trail

One of the shortest and most spectacular trails in the park. One of it's downfalls is that so many people are on this LA freeway of a trail.  But the people are worth putting up with.  This is a great short trail that has plenty of photographic opportunities, and a chance to get very close to a spectacular water fall.

Starting at the Happy Isle Nature Center near Curry Village, it's only 1.3 miles to the top of the falls. (see map)

Vernal Fall victim
A 24-year-old man was swept over Vernal Fall to his death on Saturday, July 30, 2005 after losing his balance near the river and falling in the torrential river current.  Witnesses say he leapt over the guardrail near the precipice of the fall to wash his face and to cool off in the river water.  As he attempted to stand, he lost his balance, fell into the water and was unable to get back to shore before he was swept over the fall to his death by the strong current.  The guard rail has multiple warning signs in multiple languages informing people not to go beyond the rail. His body has not been found.

Be Careful!!!


Your trip begins here, and ends wherever you have wilderness pass for.


This is the first bridge on the way to the falls itself.  Yep, it's almost always this crowded during the summer.  But that's ok; it's worth it.


This is the falls in mid-May, at about the height of the peak flow.


The flow drops considerably in September, but is still one of the few waterfalls to have any flow whatsoever during autumn.


The base of the falls in early-September.


A contemplative moment near Vernal Falls removed from the trail.


The breeze off the falls is very brisk.  Even in mid summer it's so cool you might want to consider a sweat shirt or rain jacket.  You WILL get wet.


This is why they call it the Mist Trail.


My grandson Cody, and his cousin Landon, at the falls overlook railing.

When you get to the top you will see many places to picnic and hang out in the shade.  There is an enormous pool just before the falls, but do NOT go in this water during early summer peak flow.  It's super cold and very fast.  The following pictures were taken in mid-September when it's safe to swim.


Landon climbing out of the water as fast as he can; it's COLD!!


This guy had just finished swimming across the pool and was warming himself afterward.


Be aware, around this pool you are likely as not to encounter people in various stages of nudity.  Girls in bikinis proliferate.


This is part of the trail.


Can you believe people take baby strollers up this trail??  Amazing.


Parts of the trail are very shady.

Map of Vernal Fall Trail.