When the water falls—waterfalls! And, whoa, did this past winter’s H2O make for a waterfall spring experience in Yosemite Valley. The flows are everywhere, starting with your drive into the valley via Mariposa. But it only gets better.
Right now is a great time to hike to two of Yosemite’s classic falls—Vernal and Nevada. They’re positively thundering and the trails are less traveled than in summer. Still, get an early start (recommended no later than 8 a.m.) to maximize solitude.
Follow the Mist Trail up the lush valley to the bridge at Lower Vernal Fall. Keep going! A section of the Mist Trail may still be closed, but the detour via the John Muir Trail to the top of Vernal Fall is a winner, with some outstanding vantages for seeing Upper Vernal Fall up close as well as Nevada Fall (your hiking goal!) in the distance.
Spend time at the top of Vernal before carrying on to the final 1-mile stretch, a challenging ascent with a grand granite stairway putting you parallel to thundering Nevada Fall. At the top, take a breather and wander around the granite slabs and get a grand panorama of the valley. From the railed viewpoint peek over the edge at the fierce force of the waterfall. Just don’t lean too far.
BONUS STAY: Just an hour from the entrance to Yosemite Valley, Mariposa makes a delightful and economically appealing place to stay. Friendly, lively, and artisan are good descriptors if you book a cabin, hotel, or B&B here. Food and drink options abound, from pizza and milkshakes to Cajun and farm-to-table, with a burgeoning brew pub scene for a good old-fashioned burger and IPA. Check out Mariposa County’s website for lodging info.
The trail starts at Happy Isles. Follow the Mist Trail signs. If Mist Trail is closed, you can still reach the top of the falls on the John Muir Trail alternative route. No dogs.