Yosemite National Park, California
The Mist Trail climbs 1.5 miles from Happy Isles to the top of Vernal Falls, offering the hiker an unbelievable trek through a rainbow shrouded, misty paradise. The first portion of the hike follows the John Muir Trail, 0.8 miles to the Vernal Fall Footbridge that spans the Merced River, where you will get a great view of the 317 foot high Vernal Falls. In addition to the great view, there is also a restroom and water fountain located at the bridge, just in case you need either facility. After a brief respite at the bridge, you will now leave the John Muir Trail at a trail junction, and begin hiking on the Mist Trail proper, and from that point on, be prepared for some intense climbing. The trail to the top of the falls requires some 600 granite steps, but the further you climb the better the views, so take it at your own pace and enjoy the scenery. In spring or early summer, Yosemite’s waterfalls are at their most splendid—thanks to snow melt, so try to time your hike during those seasons. We have seen the falls in late June and late August and the difference in water flow is amazing. In early summer the falls are a raging torrent that blankets the hiker in mist, but in August it was a mere trickle, where we only felt an occasional mist spray our way. Once you arrive at the falls, particularly if the water level is low, you can grab a boulder, sit in the sunshine, and enjoy a picnic lunch amid Yosemite’s grand scenery.