From scenic beaches and turquoise waters to dramatic desert landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and lush forests, it's no secret that the Golden State has it all. If you're dreaming of the next spot to see nature's amazing views, there's this easy hike in California that makes for the perfect getaway. It will even take you UNDERNEATH a pouring rainbow waterfall!

Located in Yosemite National Park, Mist Trail offers a 1.8-mile hike (with a 400-foot elevation gain) that will take you up to the roaring base of Vernal Falls. You can visit spring through early fall and the trail usually closes for snowy weather conditions in winter.

To get into the park, you will first need to pay a $30 entrance fee. You can park just about anywhere in the eastern half of Yosemite Valley and catch a free shuttle bus to the trailhead.

One million years ago, giant ice glaciers carved out Vernfall and Nevada Falls. The hard granite that remained formed dramatic cliffs, including the 319-foot waterfall drop from Vernall and the 594-foot drop from Nevada flowing from upriver. 

The Mist Falls Trail is scattered with fabulous views all along it. From the very start at the bridge overlook, you'll be wowed by the towering granite formations and forest sights all around you. 

The trail to the base of Vernal Falls is rated as moderate. However, since there is plenty of mist spraying from the waterfalls, the stone steps can be slippery. Wear shoes with good traction and prepare to watch your footing.

When you reach the base of the falls, you're probably going to want to stay awhile. There are so many photo opportunities and it's the perfect place to get that romantic photo with your love. It's famous for having giant arching rainbows that form from the falls.

If you want to continue on, there are even better views awaiting you. Travelers willing to take a 3-mile roundtrip hike will truly be rewarded. 

If you want to see the top of Nevada Falls, the roundtrip hike is seven miles long.

Because the trail is such a popular hike, the time of day that you visit matters. Peak runoff is from April through June. We recommend starting your hike early in the morning to make the most of your day and beat the crowds.

The hike may be tiring, but the views are worth it.

We can't think of a better reward at the end of a trail than reaching the top of a nearly 600-foot waterfall with views of the Liberty Cap and Half Dome in the distance. 

Mist Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 1.8 miles - 7 miles depending on the route you choose to take. 

Location: Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park

Why You Should Go: This short hike will give you the most gorgeous views of rainbow waterfalls and the surrounding Yosemite Valley.


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.