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19 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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Mist Trail - Yosemite NPSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jul 21 2014
Hiking7.00 Miles 2,800 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles
2,800 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The Mist Trail is the most popular hike in Yosemite--and for good reason. Beautiful views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Emerald Pool, the Silver Apron, and everything else along the way.

After driving down from our campsite in Hodgdon Meadow, we parked in Curry Village and took the shuttle over to the Mist Trail TH. I didn't realize to that point that this is the official starting point of the John Muir Trail (correct?).

The weather was great and the crowds were actually pretty manageable, given the time of year and the popularity of the trail. It may have helped that we were there on a Monday morning, as opposed to a weekend.

I realized that if you want to go somewhere in the U.S. where English is a minority language, the national parks are a good choice. Chinese, Japanese, French, German, you name it, we heard them all.

The first part of the trail to the bridge (about a mile) is paved and thus accessible to the masses, though it still involves a decent amount of elevation gain. The bridge provides a view up-river to Vernal Fall, and is probably a good turn around point for the out-of-shape. Most persevere on to the top of Vernal Fall, which climbs a veritable granite staircase up the right side of the falls and runs you through the "mist" for which the trail is named.

The top of Vernal Fall is accessible right up to the edge of the fall, where a metal railing is all that stands between you and a 317 ft. drop to the bottom. I understand that every year there are folks who decide they are smarter than falls and end up getting swept over to their death. Thankfully, we witnessed none of that today.

The other hazard at the top of Vernal Fall is the aggressive squirrels/chipmunks, who are very bold in their efforts to get a piece of your lunch. Even with our backpacks and lunches sitting between our legs, we had many a squirrel attempt to get in on a bite or two of whatever we were having. Unfortunately, they have been trained to have little to no fear of humans and I think most in that area have become dependent on human handouts.

After a victorious battle to defend our lunch, we moved on up the trail to Emerald Pool, which is just above Vernal Fall. A beautiful pool in which swimming is prohibited, though that didn't seem to discourage a few folks from plunging in and swimming across to the other side.

Feeding into Emerald Pool is the Silver Apron, and 1/4 mile section of smooth granite over which the river runs in a 20-30 ft wide sheet. It looks like a giant, natural waterpark slide. Very cool to look at. Absent some jagged rocks at the entrance to Emerald Pool, it would be a great place to jump on a little raft or inner tube and zoom down into the pool.

Above the Apron, you soon come to the base of 597 ft. Nevada Falls and then make the steep ascent to the top and a bridge that spans the river just shy of the precipice. Beautiful views from every angle.

We enjoyed the time up there and made a commitment to get permits for Half Dome next time around, which is another 4-5 miles or so further up the trail from the turn off near the top of Nevada Fall.

We debated whether to descend via the John Muir Trail, which provides an alternate route and connects back to the Mist Trail below Vernal Fall. In the end, we decided we enjoyed hiking right next to the falls and opted to retrace our steps down the Mist Trail instead.

What a gorgeous area. I'm running out of superlatives to describe this place.
Steller's Jay
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