Honeymooning in Yosemite – Vernal and Nevada Falls Hike

Hi friends, welcome back! Today I’m sharing part three of Yosemite National Park and our absolute favorite hike of the honeymoon! Jon and I read tons of reviews of the Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail on the All Trails App, so we knew this hike would be challenging with tons of stairs, but we also knew it would have some incredible views and couldn’t be missed. Per the All Trails App, the hike covers 7.2 miles, 2,217 feet of elevation, and is rated hard. It also boasts a 4.8-star rating with over 4,600 reviews, now that’s a popular hike!

Jon and I knew we’d need to have an early start to avoid overcrowding and parking fiascos, so we parked by 9:00 am and set off on our hike. This turned out to be a great move because when we got back to the car, the area we parked in was blocked off, so we would’ve had to park a lot further away. Getting up earlier on vacation can be hard, but it’s always worth it!

The hike started relatively easy before we noticed every step felt a little steeper than the last. The start of the trail seemed pretty busy and I was hoping it wouldn’t continue to be this crowded the whole 7 miles. I also noticed quite a few people without any water or proper hiking footwear, so I figured there was a chance they weren’t hiking the full trail.

After about .8 miles and 400 feet of elevation gain, we made it to the first viewpoint called Vernal Falls Footbridge and stopped for a few pictures. This is a very popular spot for pictures and a good point to turn around if you’re not doing the full loop.

Jon and I trekked on and began our difficult ascent up over 600 wet, granite stairs to the top of Vernal Falls. I’m a cautious hiker, so I stayed far from the edge and pulled off at bigger spots to take tons of pictures.

So many stairs!!! From the footbridge to the top of Vernal Falls is about half a mile gaining 600 feet of elevation.

Once you get to the top of Vernal Falls, you can turn around and go back down all the wet, slippery stairs (seems insane to me!) or continue on to Nevada Falls and take the John Muir trail down as the sign at the trail head suggests. Almost every review we read said to take the John Muir trail down or you won’t have a fun time, and your knees will kill! Also per NPS, you cannot go back down from 9am to 4pm, but people did it even with kids!

As we got closer to Vernal Falls, we saw so many beautiful rainbows! Waterfalls and rainbows, what more can you ask for from a hike? It didn’t take long for this hike to become one of my all time favorites!


The mist from the waterfall felt so refreshing! You can clearly see how this trail got it’s name 🙂

Jon and I made it to the top of Vernal Falls and ate our snack while enjoying the views. We carefully peered over the railing to see the 317 foot drop down.

The next portion of the hike, from Vernal Falls to Nevada Falls, covered about 1.5 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation! We definitely felt the challenge of the steep incline, so stopping to take pictures felt like a nice reprieve, and a great way to lower our heart rates.

Jon and I made it to the top of the 594-foot Nevada Falls and enjoyed the view without much of a crowd.

From here we made the wise decision to take the John Muir trail down four miles back to the trailhead. This trail was definitely the safer route, but it also provided beautiful views of Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap to the left. We came up the left side of Nevada Falls and hiked around Liberty Cap, so we enjoyed seeing from afar where we were.

Even though the hike down felt longer, going downhill felt great! When we got back to the Mist Trail I had a greater appreciation of how steep our hike actually was. Jon and I agreed this is one of our favorite hikes we’ve ever completed! Every step of the hike was incredibly beautiful and made the challenge of the trail so worth it. I would not recommend bringing kids on this whole trail, but as long as you can climb stairs, you can complete the hike. If you are not an experienced hiker, it may take longer to complete, but it’s definitely doable. Don’t let the difficulty of the hike deter you, you absolutely should do this hike if you’re in Yosemite.

To celebrate our hiking accomplishment, we headed to the grocery store and picked out some delicious ice cream sandwiches. Perfect post-hike treat 🙂

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed hiking it and reliving the day 🙂 Stay tuned for the final honeymoon post.

26 thoughts on “Honeymooning in Yosemite – Vernal and Nevada Falls Hike

  1. Wow! Some incredible scenery! Great photos. I love those ones where you are above the rainbow! Whenever I see carved steps in difficult places, my mind always turns to the folk who built them, how long they took etc 😉 Another enjoyable post!

    1. Thank you! It was difficult to tear myself away from the rainbows and keep going. I always think of that too and who makes the paths, would be a difficult job!

      1. Haha, yes, I can see why!
        Exactly! It would have been a tough job and probably a long time needed to be spent living in those remote locations to cut the rock etc. Hard work indeed.

  2. The Nevada Falls are spectacular and remind me of one of those amusement park flume rides where you go down the chute in a carved-out log. Perhaps it’s best this is a difficult hike, to limit the number of people who would potentially disturb the area. Your photos sell Yosemite so well, Lyssy. I need to get there someday.

    1. It would be a good spot for a log ride ha! It was nice having the rest of the hike to ourselves so we could go at our own pace and not feel rushed. The limiting of the permits helps too. Thank you! You definitely need to get to Yosemite, it’s incredible!

  3. Spectacular hike Lyssy, but I am with you. I don’t mind hiking up and down hills and slopes, but stone and concrete steps take a toll on the knees. Good choice to go down the other way. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    1. Thank you! A slippery downhill is never a fun idea either. Sometimes it’s more dangerous going down. Thanks for reading, Allan.

  4. The climb seems exhausting, but it’s fantastic to have a waterfall as a climbing companion, it provides a permanent spectacle, as well as the occasional refresher

      1. I don’t understand people who go hiking unprepared. No water? No matter what they should bring it. In another country I saw women hiking up a mountain dressed up in heels frequently. I think their date surprised them with the hike.

      2. I don’t either, makes me shake my head! Wow high heels on a hike, I haven’t seen that one yet. Must’ve been quite the surprise haha

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