Tips and Tricks Before You’re On The Go
Distance: 6.7 miles via Mist Trail (National Parks Service)
My Rating: Moderate
After finals week, we set out for Yosemite National Park! We were very lucky to have reservations since we reserved Hodgdon Meadow Campground 3 days before we left(score)! People schedule 5 months in advance (which you should do). Our campground was about an hour north of Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. If this is your first visit, find a campground closer to Yosemite Valley. Most highlights of Yosemite is in the valley including Vernal and Nevada Falls.
Tip: Wake up early to find parking in the Valley! Parking at the Visitor Center Lot fills up quickly in the summer. On our last day, we first hiked Tuolumne Grove then headed to the Valley around 10 am. We drove around for 2 hours looking for parking. Still, we didn’t find any! Although we saw a sports car, who held up traffic by trying to do a u-turn on a 1 lane road, stopped by a Park Ranger on a bicycle. The Ranger was pretty badass. Oh, and a National Park Service truck almost crashed into us when they didn’t make a stop at the stop sign. Another tip: Take the Yosemite shuttle to stops near the hiking trails. The newspapers at the center have Yosemite Shuttle Maps.
Vernal Falls is the first of the waterfalls along Yosemite’s amazing Mist Trail. Vernal and Nevada Falls are best in the spring. Vernal Falls comes first. Starting out, it is incredibly steep and will have your thighs burning. It is doable even if you haven’t worked out in a while (aka me). By the bus stop and Vernal footbridge, there are toilets! Vernal Falls is beautiful and the rushing water is astounding. During hotter months, the water is alluring. But do not enter the river!”We weren’t swimming. We were just wading.” That’s a quote on a sign near Vernal Falls Bridge telling how a mother lost her 2 sons when the current swept them away. Passing that sign after the footbridge, turn left to hike towards Vernal. If you go straight, that will lead you to the John Muir Trail that will take you to Nevada Falls and several other trails.
Pleeease, if you’re especially visiting before June, bring a rain jacket or a poncho! Unless you want to freeze to death by water and mist hitting your clothes. I brought a rain jacket but covered my backpack so my camera equipment wouldn’t soak. Instead, I was sopping wet. The water is so strong that I could hardly look at the waterfall! As we traveled up the stairs (first picture as seen below), there’s so much water gliding down the stairs. After the worst part, I debated about turning back or hiking till Nevada Falls because I was so cold and numb! After Vernal, it’s much better and you’re not pelted by water– so keep going! Once you hike up to the top of Vernal, there’s a beautiful view and nice rocks to sit and eat. Vernal Falls is a one of a kind. I have never been so close to a rushing waterfall. Definitely should be on your bucket list!
Once at the top of Vernal Falls, you can keep hiking up to Nevada Falls (5.4 miles via Mist Trail). You MUST do it! The view at the top of Nevada is honestly sooooo breathtaking! There’s a beautiful view of the valley (better than at Vernal). You can view Half Dome too. The waterfall is relentless and a terrifying beauty. You’re hiking near Nevada Falls, but not as near as Vernal Falls. You won’t be soaking wet. On the way back, I recommend crossing the bridge over Nevada and taking the John Muir Trail. For one, you won’t be pelted by Vernal and hiking down the sketchy edge nearest to the river. John Muir Trail provides a slightly longer hike and different view of the falls. We got to frolick under small waterfalls on this trail!
On the way down, our feet were killing us. John Muir has a gentler grade than Mist Trail. I had bought my first pair of hiking boots and did not break them in. However, going on hikes like these you need hiking boots! I’ve always worn my vans while hiking and slipped/crab squatted many times, but I did not and have not slipped/crab squatted yet! If you want to see more pictures, look at my Yosemite Album!