This very strenuous, seven-mile round-trip hike gains almost 2,000 feet in elevation. Start at Happy Isles Shuttle Stop ... More
Top of Nevada Falls Hike
This very strenuous, seven-mile round-trip hike gains almost 2,000 feet in elevation. Start at Happy Isles Shuttle Stop Number 16 and work your way through the crowds visiting Vernal Falls, and begin a series of switchbacks to the top. The trail goes up and down a fair amount until you near the top. As you climb out of a gully, you will be treated to the famous profile of Nevada Falls. Be sure to bring water, and wear a hat as well as comfortable walking shoes or boots. The trail may be closed in winter. For your safety, it is recommended that you complete this hike before dark.
On a day trip from the bay area to check out waterfalls, we headed up to Vernal Falls after a stroll to see Bridalveil falls. The website said "moderate to strenuous". The initial paved portion to the lower bridge, was mostly uphill, with plenty of room to stop, although crowded on a Saturday in June. At the bridge, we snapped a photo and moved on, as my aim was to be out of the crowd. We headed up to the top of Vernal Falls over the dirt trail and later granite steps, many of them about a foot high, and almost all covered in water spray from the falls. We shared the trail with old and young alike, and there were portions that felt dangerous for people heading both up and down.
Upon arriving at the top of Vernal Falls, we rested on the beautiful rocks, snacked, used the rest rooms, and snapped some photos. We met a couple with a book on Yosemite, who indicated if we headed up past Nevada falls, there was a loop that headed down via the John Muir trail with well graded switchbacks, as opposed to the the wet, large granite rock, and often narrow trail we had just ascended. This sounded good to our group.. we were a fit, gym going bunch.
The hike from Vernal Falls to the top of Nevada falls was beautiful, at times wooded areas, that wound around to open views of Nevada Falls and the valley. The upper half (or more) of the trail was granite switchbacks, however these rocks were dry and not as huge as those on the trail to Vernal Falls. We took many breaks, and appreciated the much thinner crowd on this upper portion. At the top, we headed to the right to the top of the falls, and found a wonderful area to rest, snack, feel the cold water, and awe at the majestic views, which were worth the burning thighs and pounding heart.
From here, we headed off to the John Muir trail, which except for the one portion of the trail which is under a stream that pours down on you, was dry, dirt, well graded, some rocks, lots of trees, occassional donkeys and horses, and hence, horse dung, and very thinned out crowd. The 4 miles down took us less than 1 1/2 hours, and mostly due to maneuvering the crowd once it rejoined the lower vernal falls bridge. The upward 2 1/2 miles to the top of nevada falls took about 2 1/2 hours, maybe 3 hours, with plenty of rest and a bathroom break.
I truly LOVED this hike! Challenging, beautiful, and memorable!
We are 52, and 51 first time backpackers. We hiked prepared with enough water in Yosemite. Nevada Falls, Vernon Falls, Misty Trails, Illouette Falls we camped. If you did not know you could drive your car to Glacier Peak, and the Trek would not be like a Marathon. 6 miles to any athlete seems like nothing if it was flat. This is switch backs and
the incline is extremely difficult with a back pack. We were lucky we
prepared with the most important factor water, and a filter. I was so
upset about Parents who were treking kids up that we crying, thirsty,
and not prepared. 5 miles would take a average athlete 5 hours with
a back pack. Coming down knees you once thought were good/ will
feel like they are giving out. I run every day. I feel I accomplished a lot.
What I would do differently is be prepared with a better mattress pad...
OH GOD THE PAIN WITHOUT IT. And trek out on the 2nd day. Have
a plan on pick up , where to take a tram from a back pack trip in Yosemite. And stay in a hotel before you go home. It is a treat to live
for. Fresno La Quinta 65.00 is worth it. Breakfast the next day home.
As a 52 year old P.E. Teacher the beauty was something I will never
forget. We did not need to work so hard... or hurt our bodies. Moleskin
for blisters is a must.
Nevada Nemesis, Vernal's Vengeance and Misty Magic
By A Yahoo! Contributor, 7/2/09
We (John, Audi and Georgia) started out at Glacier Point. We took the Glacier Point Trail (beautiful) and hiked our way to Nevada Falls where 1 of us (John) proceeded ever upward to sucessfully complete Half Dome while we continued down to Vernal Falls, Mist Trail and the Valley floor, later, to be followed by the Half Dome conqueror.
Both, Nevada and Vernal Falls are indeed beautiful in their power, scope and magnitude. As you descend the trail toward Vernal Falls (Vernal's Vengeance) it is steep and totally granite rock after granite rock and I thought "super hard on the knees" UNTIL I had to descend the Mist Trail!!! People everywhere and unwilling to yield (I don't blame them) after ascending the slippery granite steps (step after step) that lead up to Vernal Falls. I am so thankful that I was going down and NOT UP! Take the Glacier Trail (longer, but not as hard as the steep ascent from the valley floor, UP paved paths, slippery granite steps and rocks that can twist an ankle in even the best hiking boots)!
Was it worth it...YES...absolutely...every moment...NO regrets!!! Don't get lulled into thinking the water is calm...IT ISN'T! Be careful, watch your step and have a safe journey!
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