Vernal Fall is the first major sight on the Mist Trail along the Merced River hiking up from Yosemite Valley.
Getting to Vernal Fall and back is a 3 mile round trip and is a rewarding expenditure of energy for anyone in good health but not necessarily a devoted hiker.
The Mist Trail has always been the signature hike in Yosemite and everyone should attempt it at some point. The problem with this hike is simply that it is so popular that you should make every effort to find a time somewhat off season so you won’t feel overwhelmed by all the other hikers.
You will gain about 1,000 feet in altitude by the time you get to the top of Vernal Fall and the trail can be slippery so take your time to enjoy the views along the way. The final 15 minutes of the trail is very steep and crowded getting to the top of the falls.[sam id=1 codes=’false’]
Vernal Fall itself is 317 feet high and most seasons produces quite a bit of mist so expect to get a bit damp on the way up, or downright wet in the early spring runoff.
Note that swimming on the calm waters above Vernal Fall looks very tempting but is extremely dangerous and against Park rules. On average one person a year dies from being swept over Vernal Fall.
Even getting near the edge is very dangerous because of the slippery rocks. In 2011 3 members of a church group were swept to their death over Vernal Fall when they were clowning around near the edge and slipped and fell in.
Stay safe by using common sense and enjoy the spectacular view.