Hiking Mist Trail in Yosemite
We’ve lived in Northern California for almost four years but this was our first time making it out to Yosemite. I’m not sure what took us so long to visit but I left wishing we would have gone sooner.
I assumed it would be something special considering that 4 million people from all over the world come to visit every year, yet somehow it still managed to exceed my expectations. The feeling you get when you stand amongst the enormous granite cliffs and cascading waterfalls is hard to put into words; it’s absolutely breathtaking.
Spring seemed like the best time to visit since the falls are pretty much guaranteed to be flowing and the summer crowds have yet to arrive. If you go at the right time, you’ll even see wildflowers and dogwoods in bloom.
The only issue we had was traveling with Coco. There weren’t many reasonably priced pet-friendly lodging options inside of the park so we chose to stay at Tenaya Lodge which is located 2 miles from the south entrance of the park. This meant having to drive an hour each way to get to the valley every single day. Not a big deal if you only want to visit the park for one day, however if you’re staying for several days, making the drive back and forth is not ideal. I would definitely consider finding a pet sitter and stay inside of the valley next time. Half Dome Village looked like a fun spot to camp out in a cabin and the location is perfect.
Considering that we were able to travel with Coco, Tenaya Lodge made for a great base. They have newly remodeled rooms with sliding glass doors that open up to a large grassy area that’s perfect for walking your dog.
They also have three restaurants on-site with several vegetarian options. We had grilled cheese with tomato soup and a black bean burger the first night which were both tasty.
Breakfast looked better than it tasted but considering you’re in the middle in nowhere, it was good.
We spent the first day doing some of the more easily accessible hikes so that we could take Coco along with us. On the way into the valley we stopped at Tunnel View which has an awe-inspiring view of El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls.
We walked about a half-mile to get to Bridalveil Falls but it was flowing so strong that I couldn’t even take a picture without my camera getting soaked.
After that we parked near the Yosemite Village Store so that we could walk around the nearby village on our way to Yosemite Falls. Because it’s so easy to get to, Yosemite Falls is probably the most crowded. The earlier you can get there the better!
On our way back to the village we grabbed lunch at Degnan’s Deli which was surprisingly delicious. We both had veggie sandwiches with GT’s kombucha.
For dinner we ate at South Gate Brewing Company in Oakhurst, about 20 mins from the lodge. I ordered veggie tacos with a house brewed blonde ale and Brandon got the kale salad with avocado and watermelon. Two thumbs up for this place.
The second day, which was Brandon’s birthday, was when the real fun started. I had planned for us to hike the Mist Trail up to Nevada Falls and back down the John Muir Trail, a total of about 6.5 miles which took us around 4 hours to complete.
I debated doing the Panorama Trail but going down a steep, wet staircase that’s crowded with people after hiking for 8 miles sounded like a bad idea. Next time I might consider accessing that trail via The Four Mile Trail so that you can hike up to Glacier Point and ride the shuttle back down to the valley.
Anyways, I was really happy with our decision to the Mist Trail because it was stunning. We parked at Half Dome Village (previously Curry Village) and ate breakfast in the cafeteria before walking to the start of the trail.
The trails begins with a steep uphill climb that rewards you with picturesque views along the way. Eventually you cross over a large stream before reaching the bottom of Vernal Falls, where the wet climb up the steep staircase begins.
As you ascend the stairs, the mist from the falls feels like a continuous light rain. I came prepared with a hat and rain jacket to keep from getting soaked but honestly I would have been fine without them. Especially if it was a warm summer day.
At this point it was about 10am and the morning light streaming into mist of the fall created the most beautiful rainbow. I couldn’t dream up a more magical sight if I tried!
The top of Vernal Falls was pretty crowded with people stopping to take a break or enjoy a picnic so we chose to keep on to the top of Nevada falls, where we spotted a few cute squirrels and a coyote along the way.
Once we reached Nevada falls, we hung out on the bridge and enjoyed some dried mango (aka crack) while taking in the view.
It’s hard not to feel an internal magnetic pull with nature when you’re in a setting that beautiful. It’s the best therapy there is, in my opinion.
From there, we made the descent down John Muir Trail which had awesome views of half dome and both of the falls that we had just hiked up.
When we reached the bottom, we stopped off to reward ourselves with a veggie pizza on our way back to the car at Half Dome Village. There was a pack of deer eating grass in the village and they weren’t the least bit bothered by all of the humans around.
Later that evening, we took Coco back into the park to watch the sunset at Glacier Point. It was crowded and a little cloudy but still worth it to get a bird’s eye view of all the waterfalls we had hiked over the past couple of days.
Overall I was blown away by Yosemite. The park is extremely well cared for, and I loved seeing recycling bins and stations to refill your water bottles at every major stop.
I would definitely consider staying at Half Dome Village and bringing groceries as food is expensive and the plant-based options are slim. I would also have lunch at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (previously the Ahwahnee Hotel) which we didn’t have time for during this trip.
Thank you for letting me share our trip with you guys! I hope you took away something useful and that you get a chance to visit Yosemite one day. It’s truly a magical place!
Wow, that looks so incredible! I would love to get out to Yosemite at some point. Your photos are gorgeous and all the food options look great too.
I know I just got back from vacation, but you’re making me want to go on another one haha!
I’m so happy to see the weather held up enough for gorgeous photos and spending lots of time outside! Those rainbows? Holy moly. That super chub squirrel? Priceless! That’s awesome you and B found a great place to stay to bring Coco with…gaaah the whole trip looks like it was so amazing! Annnd shoot – we were just in Sonora last weekend and now I’m wishing we had carved out time to visit Yosemite. So flipping pretty!
I didn’t even realize how close Sonora was to Yosemite until I saw it on the map. Crazy!
Wow!!! Amazing pictures! It looks so beautiful!
Thanks Jill! :)
Sarah, your photos of Yosemite are nothing short of breathtaking. It’s one of those destinations that reminds you of all that is good and right in the world. I have such beautiful memories of our last visit and am now craving to return! Good point about the lack of nearby dog friendly lodging. As much as we love bringing Stella with us when we travel, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Thank you for these inspiring views – so humbling. Enjoy the long weekend.
Yes, this was definitely one of the times it didn’t make sense! It’s too bad we can’t bring them everywhere. :)
Beautiful pictures; so glad you got to bring along Coco!
It’s so beautiful! I’ve only ever driven through Yosemite. It always seems so crowded I’ve never been that into going, but these beautiful pictures may have convinced me to go next spring during the week to check it out. :)
I hope you get to go! You guys would love it!
Gosh this is just sooo gorgeous!! I just can’t get over how pretty nature is. And what a fantastic trip you guys had!!
PS dried mango is definitely crazy addictive!! haha That made me chuckle!
It is SO GOOD! ;)
That is gorgeous! I could see how food options are limited though. With 2 small kids I definitely would need to cook in a hotel. That hiking is amazing!!! Can’t believe those rock stairs. Sigh Yosemite will have to wait for my kids to grow up.
Oh my God!!! What a beautiful place. Lovely pictures Sarah. :)
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