With more than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) of trails, Yosemite National Park offers visitors an almost endless array of hiking options that can both challenge you and take your breath away at the same time. But there is one option that stands tall amongst all the trails in the park—the Mist Trail. (See more options in our our Legengary Day Hikes in the National Parks.)
The Mist Trail is the quintessential Yosemite hike and for good reason. While most of Yosemite’s trails lead to a singular spectacular destination, the seven-mile (11-kilometer) trek along this trail affords multiple vantage points with some of the most breathtaking views the park has to offer.
The trail starts at Happy Isles and after a short while gives a first glimpse of Vernal Fall while crossing over a small footbridge. The route then progressively becomes steeper and more treacherous from the drifting mist of the falls. As the waterfall nears, most visitors are delighted by the cloud of mist that enshrouds the trail and soaks everyone on it. How soaked? Springtime hikers may end up looking as if they jumped into a lake fully-clothed, so make sure to bring a poncho or waterproof gear. The mist for which the trail is named also frequently reveals breathtaking rainbows, which present great photo opportunities if you can keep your camera dry.
After braving the mist and reaching the top of Vernal Fall, the trail then leads you to Nevada Fall, offering a different but equally spectacular waterfall view. The return segment, part of the John Muir Trail, offers what some consider to be the most striking view in all of Yosemite, where you can see Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap, and famed Half Dome together in a single frame.
You can’t go wrong with this hike. Be sure to include the Mist Trail at the top of your to-do list for your next trip to Yosemite.
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- Nat Geo Expeditions