Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
7-10h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
20.9 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
1,244 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

What is better than one waterfall? Two? Well yes, but we can offer you three! The Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike is an epic excursion in Yosemite National Park that guides intrepid adventurers to three mesmerizing, surging snowmelt cascades. What are you waiting for?

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Route Description for Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike

The Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike is a high-effort, high-reward type of adventure, as you will climb over 1,189 m in less than 20.9 km—you’ll break a sweat on this one! If you are all about the waterfalls, like we are, you will have to plan your trip accordingly. Though the falls tend to flow year-round, the cascades lessen and sometimes dry up in the late summer and early fall. For the best experience, we suggest a spring adventure. Additionally, sections of this hike are steep, dangerous, and follow along the cliffside, so mind your footing and take your time. A sturdy pair of footwear and rain poncho are lifesavers along this journey. Note: the National Park charges an entrance fee, refer to the NPS website for a pricing guide.

Embark on your epic adventure along the Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike from the Mist Trailhead. From here, hike the John Muir Trail over the Vernal Falls footbridge before merging onto the Mist Trail. Ascend the vertiginous Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls, over the Merced River, and up to an intersection. Here, turn left onto the John Muir Trail which will guide you over Nevada Falls. Revel in the views before continuing on to the next junction. Here, you will keep left and navigate a set of switchbacks, before connecting with Panorama Point Trail.

Follow Panorama Point Trail all the way up to Illilouette Falls, where you can take a rest and admire the scenery. When you are ready, retrace your footing along the path all the way back to the Merced River crossing above Vernal Falls. Here, take the John Muir Trail to Clark Point and all the way back to the trailhead.

Getting to the Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike Trailhead

The Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike departs from the Mist Trailhead in Happy Isles Loop Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Dispersed Backcountry Camping, Wilderness Permit Required.

  • When to do

    April-October

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Lollipop

Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike Elevation Graph

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Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette Falls Hike Reviews

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