After packing up early again (by the way, I’m still waking up with the sunrise at 5:30am) we headed to see the Giant Sequoias via the Tuolumne Grove hike, which is right before Big Oak Flat Rd. The hike is 2.5 miles round trip, along a paved road and downhill. So note that you will be hiking up a steep road on the way back to the parking lot. It was beautiful and interesting to read all about the giant sequoia trees. Note: Giant Sequoias need moisture in order to thrive so there was a lot of water and moisture which attracted thousands of mosquitos! Luckily my sister and I were covered head to toe, but just beware!
After walking through the famous dead giant sequoia tree we made our way back to the parking lot and decided to hike Vernal and Nevada Falls for the rest of the day via the Mist Trail. We parked in the visitor parking in Yosemite Valley and walked across the street to shuttle stop #10. It was very convenient to take the shuttle service since parking is a nightmare during peak season. We got off stop #16 at Happy Isles and walked up the road over the bridge to the beginning of the hike, on your right side.
The initial part of the hike is a BEAST! It is at a very steep incline, but a paved road. It’s a workout let me tell you. We made several rest stops to catch our breath. After reaching the bridge which leads up to the Mist Trail, we walked along side the raging stream before ascending on the famous “Mist Trail“…more like “get drenched trail!” The waterfall is so powerful that it “mists” you as you hike up to the top. When you finally reach the top, you are completely wet. Be careful as you hike up the steps as it is slippery and you can easily hurt yourself if you aren’t paying attention.
After reaching the top of the Mist Trail and taking a short break to catch our breath and refuel with some snacks, we began our hike to Vernal Falls. This hike was still steep with stair like steps, until you come to a narrow fenced off path along the side of the mountain. It’s very safe, however there is only enough space for one direction to pass through. Once you get to the other side you are at the top of Vernal Falls with an incredible view of the raging water. Please observe to the signs and don’t go into the water as it is very strong and has been know to swipe people over the edge on the falls and to their deaths! Don’t let that be you!
After taking another break to refuel and hydrate, we decided to make our way towards Nevada Falls. On our way there was a fork in the trail. To the left is a 1.3 mile hike (more strenuous with more of an incline and steep steps) and to the right is a 1.6 mile hike (more flat and gradual incline). We took the shorter more difficult path as it was less traveled and we wanted a challenge. Funny thing is, two thirds of the way in we had wished we took the more gradual path! After finally reaching the top we had lunch and enjoyed our rest before making our way down.
For the hike down, we decided to take the more “gradual” hike back to Vernal Falls. As we hiked down there was another fork in the road. I assumed it was the previous fork we saw on our way up so we stayed to the left and kept going. Eventually we discovered we had taken the John Muir Trail instead. Luckily the John Muir Trail led back to the Happy Isles beginning point. Thank goodness! Moral of the story…always read signs!! The John Muir Trail gave us a beautiful view of Nevada Falls. The trail was basically just switchbacks the entire time down.