Sierra Nevada - Yosemite National Park - Vernal Fall

I first visited Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park in July 1957 on a backpack trip while I was in the Navy. I visited/viewed it on several subsequent trips.

Vernal Fall is a 317-foot waterfall on the Merced River just downstream of Nevada Fall. Like its upstream neighbor, Vernal Fall is clearly visible at a distance, from Glacier Point, as well as close up, along the Mist Trail. The waterfall flows 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.

Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall from Washburn Point - Yosemite National Park - Jun 2006
Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall from Washburn Point - Yosemite National Park - Jun 2006
Vernal Fall from Washburn Point - Yosemite National Park - Jun 2006
Vernal Fall from Washburn Point - Yosemite National Park - Jun 2006

Yan-o-pah (little cloud) 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.

NPS Map of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall trails
NPS Map of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall trails

The Mist trail begins at the Happy Isles trail head in Yosemite Valley and travels generally east-southeast. This is one of the shortest (1.3 mile) 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.

At times of high flow, mostly in the spring, hikers may be 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.

Vernal Fall (bottom center) from bridge - Yosemite National Park - Jan 1966
Vernal Fall (bottom center) from bridge - Yosemite National Park - Jan 1966
Vernal Fall from bottom of Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Vernal Fall from bottom of Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957

Vernal Fall from Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1966
Vernal Fall from Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1966
Vernal Fall from Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Vernal Fall from Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957

Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1966
Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1966
Emerald Pool and Silver Apron at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Emerald Pool and Silver Apron at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957

Silever Apron and Emerald Pool at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Silever Apron and Emerald Pool at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Above Silver Apron at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Above Silver Apron at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957

Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980
Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980
Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980
Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980

Rainbow at Vernal Falls on Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980
Rainbow at Vernal Falls on Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980

Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980
Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980
Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980
Vernal Falls - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1980

NPS Vernal Fall/Nevada Fall trail profile
NPS Vernal Fall/Nevada Fall trail profile