Signature hike in Yosemite National Park
By Austin Explorer on 10/10/2018
Distance: 10.40 Miles Duration: 6 hours, 24 minutes
Coppertone and I figured this would be one of the longer hikes we'd partake on this trip, but it turned out to be longer than expected. We're not quite sure where the mileage in the guidebooks comes from.
The trail leading up to the Vernal Falls bridge is steep, but paved, which makes for easier going. Still, we found many folks stopped by the side of the trail even at this early a juncture stopping to catch their breath. Truth be told, we stopped a couple of times ourselves.
The view from the Vernal Falls bridge is worth the outing itself.
From this point on the trail starts to get rougher and tougher. Along the Mist Trail (a moniker not as apt during the dryer fall months) the terrain turns to steps. Lots and lots of steps. While stopping for your breath you can enjoy eve changing viewpoints of Vernal Falls as it gets closer and closer.
The last segment of trail to get to the top of Vernal Falls was a narrow passageway with a rock wall on one side and a metal railing on the other. The width here is barely enough (and often not) for two people to pass each other. Emptying out on top a solid rock surface lets people spread out and get a closer look at the falls as they tumble down.
Just a bit upstream we found a great spot next to the water to stop for lunch and rest.
Continuing uphill we marhed on to Nevada Falls and encountered yet more steps. The steps here are a bit more chaotic and non-uniform that those leading up to Vernal Falls. The path seems to be set in a large rockfall, just rocks and boulders everywhere. These segments really drained us of energy.
Once out of the rockfall trail the path meets up with the John Muir Trail and things turn up a bit easier. From here it's a bit of a downslope to get to the top of Nevada Falls, where again a solid rock surface allows the large number of lingering hikers to spread out a bit and soak up the Sun and views.
A small bridge crosses the Merced River that feeds the falls and several NPS workers were in the process of repairing some of the rock mortared to the bases of the bridge.
The John Muir Trail continues to descend from there, hugging a sheer rock face with an impressive safety rock wall on the opposite side. Be sure to look back for more views of Nevada Falls as you descend.