“Yosemite's signature waterfall hike”
Vernal Fall is a 317 feet waterfall on the Merced River just downstream of Nevada Fall in Yosemite National Park, California. Vernal Fall, as well as Nevada Fall, is clearly visible from Glacier Point. The waterfall runs all year long, although by the end of summer it is substantially reduced in volume and can split into multiple strands, rather than a single curtain of water. Yan-o-pah (little cloud) was the local name of the fall before it was named "Vernal" by Lafayette Bunnell, a member of the Mariposa Brigade in 1851. Hikers will start at the Happy Isles trail head in Yosemite Valley. Travel is generally East-South-East. This is one of the shortest (1.3 mi/2.1 km)—though in places steep—and most popular trails in Yosemite. The trail is mostly shaded and is progressive in incline until it reaches the base of the waterfall where mist sprays onto the hikers.Depending on the time of the year hikers can be totally drenched by the time they pass the mist from the waterfall. The final 15 minutes of the trail is a very steep climb up rocks to the top of the waterfall. Once atop the falls there is a pool of water called the Emerald Pool around which hikers lounge and rest. There is also a 20 degree slope of rock with water flowing into the pool called the Silver Apron.Swimming above a waterfall is against park rules and can carry with it a great deal of risk: rocks are slippery, and strong undercurrents exist that may not be visible from the surface. Though warnings are clearly posted to stay out of the water, more than a dozen people have died in the last decade by entering the water above Vernal Fall, including the Silver Apron and Emerald Pool.
This is a beautiful place, but you must be aware of the strenuous hike up, although it has a lot of shade. There are a lot of stairs and it is mostly uphill, but the view is well worth it. We went during late summer (August 31st) and there was still water running down, but not nearly as big as it is during spring. Make sure to bring lots of water and food.
There is a loop trail that starts at the top, past the Emerald Pool and to the right that takes you down a less steep path. However, it is 2.3 miles (vs. 1.5 miles going down the same way you came up). You must keep going up for about 40 minutes before it starts to go down, but there is a view of the falls that is amazing and you can see the Nevada fall from there too.
This is a well worth hike but you must dedicate at least half a day for it.
Like all waterfall lovers do, we did not miss to visit Vernal Fall. Even though we were tired, we decided to go up to the top.
The trail begins easily through a well cared pavement and ends up literally climbing the steps (watch out they are not very safe for the children).
This disappointed us a bit as we had to watch the kids and ourselves all the time so we didn't fall during the hike. Finally, we enjoyed the great views at least.
Good to go but take in mind to have appropriate shoes and clothing and water and food supplies!
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Not Wheelchair Accessible