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Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park
(4.8/5 based on 1,000+ reviews on the web)
Vernal Fall is a 317ft 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.HistoryEtymologyYan-o-pah was the local name of the fall before it was named "Vernal"- meaning relating to Spring - by Lafayette Bunnell, a member of the Mariposa Battalion in 1851.Hiking trailThe trail begins at the Happy Isles trail head in Yosemite Valley and travels generally east-southeast. This is one of the shortest (1.3mi)—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.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • The hike includes alot of stone stairs...600 I believe. It was fun and especially since in the fall it wasn't wet! Lots of places to rest at the top with views of the water and the valley. 
  • This is an amazing walk. Endless scenery. You can walk just under half way to the footbridge and see the falls and rocky stream or continue to the top. HOWEVER, do note that as of 6 December the mist ...  more »
  • Easily accessible trail. Trail is about an hour to the foot bridge. Good place to rest and soak your tired feet, before heading up to the falls. Good scenery. 
Google
  • A great hike with amazing views of the cliffs, valley and the falls are just gorgeous. Its a moderate hike and enough people along the way to make it seem less so. There is a water point a little before the falls and it was very useful as you need to stay hydrated (last one if you are hiking all the way up to Nevada). It can be slightly daunting if you have little ones but didn't stop us and lots more - wouldn't stretch it any further beyond Vernal.
  • Beautiful! This beginners hike is a small challenge for the beauty that waits to be beheld at the falls. There's also wooded, mountain, and river views on the way to the falls that are breathtaking. Yosemite IS out of this world beautiful and larger than life. You must see it. If you are a hardcore hiker (and I mean hardcore !!!), go all the way to Nevada Falls. Just as gorgeous. Bring more than enough water and healthy snacks for either trip! You will be in a bad way without the proper sustenance here. Plus, buy all you can before getting to Yosemite. The aren't many stores here and prices are high. With some good planning ahead of time, you are in for the time of your life. Enjoy!
  • Vernal Falls is worth the hike to the top. Though it can be seen from an easier hike to the bottom, it is worth hiking the wet steps to the very top for the ultimate experience. You don't need to be in perfect shape, but it does take some strength and endurance. You'll probably get misted on the way up, but that's part of making a great experience. you'll dry off soon, no need for a raincoat.
  • Once you hike past the bridge this hike clears out significantly because the trail gets steep quickly. About seventy five percent up the trail to Vernal you are paid off by a SPECTACULAR view of the fall. I found the hike to the top rewarding. For the time we were in the park this was one of the most active waterfalls as it's fed by the Merced river rather than melted snow.
  • The hike amazing. It's a different side of Yosemite! But amazing views. The public bus to the trailhead makes it easily accessible. Great views of the falls. Go further up to Nevada falls from there as well. It's a beautiful view. Early summer late spring are my favorite time of the year to go because that's when the water flow is at its highest.