No matter how many trails that you hike there is always one that remains your favourite and that you always hope to return to. In my case it is the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park. I have never encountered another hike which offers the serenity, the drama and the variety of scenery that you find on The Mist Trail and I think that I could take on this route every day for a year and never tire of it.
Yosemite National Park changes constantly throughout the seasons and so no area of the park presents the same experience from one visit to the next. Certainly the Mist Trail offers endless variety and there is no bad time to hike this trail but for me early summer is the prime time to get your walking boots on.
Cascades and Vistas
In late spring and early summer the melting snow brings the drama of the waterfalls running at full power. The Mist Trail is named for the spray from Vernal Falls which envelopes you as you pass and this is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss especially when gorgeous rainbows form around the falls in the early summer sunshine.
The trail begins with a gentle climb to a bridge over the Merced River from where you get your first glimpse of the stunning Vernal falls. Many visitors turn back at this point and so the trail becomes much quieter. The gradient steepens as you approach the foot of the falls but your efforts are rewarded with stunning vistas and that wonderfully cool spray. After admiring the cascade you ascend further until you are above the falls and here you can picnic besides what is either a serene pool or raging torrent depending on the season!
You now have a decision to make. You can turn back or you can continue on to Nevada Falls. There are steep and arduous portions of the trail to conquer in what are probably very hot temperatures but your efforts will be rewarded by a series of incredible views and the beauty of the terrain above the falls. If you do feel like you are overheating then there are several pools and creeks that are perfect for a quick dip as long as you ensure that you stay well away from the area leading to the cascade. It is all too easy to get swept away!
It takes between 3 and 4 hours for a reasonably fit hiker to reach Nevada Falls and it is best to start early in the morning to avoid the worst excesses of the heat whilst you are ascending. There are less people about too which makes for a more peaceful walk. The entire route is simply stunning with plenty of wildlife on show but the terrain is varied and can be wet and slippery near the falls so the right hiking footwear and clothing is essential for your comfort and safety. Walking poles are also a great help on the rocky climb to Nevada Falls. This is one hike that no lover of the great outdoors should miss but there are dangers so go prepared!
Article by Sally Stacey