After I wrote a couple articles about the Mist Trail last year (http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2011/12/15/mist-trail-to-nevada-fall.html, http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2011/12/14/the-mist-trail-to-vernal-falls-summer.html), I received a number of e-mails wondering when the best time was to hike the Mist Trail. In all honesty, I’d say now what I said then – anytime is the best time to hike the Mist Trail to either Vernal or Nevada Fall. However, for 2012, if you are looking to experience “the mist” and want to get wet, now would be the best time to hike the Mist Trail.
The reason right now is the best time to do this hike is simple: the snowpack is already melting. As I’ve said on many occasions this year, 2012 was a bad year for the Sierra snowpack as California has had a warm winter. At this point, from about two weeks ago until mid-summer, what snow was present at the higher elevations will be melting – and at times, melting rapidly. This means that this year, from mid-to late summer, the rivers and seasonal flows will be running at a low level, or not at all. When rivers and other seasonal flows are at a low level, what waterfalls that exist flow at a low level, or not at all.
So, if you want to get wet, now, is the time to go for 2012, before all of the snowpack melts. When I was recently in Yosemite, I hiked the Mist Trail up to a tenth of a mile under Nevada Falls. I would have gone all the way up to Nevada Falls and come back down the John Muir Trail, but earlier in the day I had been hiking in another area of the park, and at that point, was perfectly content to take it a little easy.
From what I saw on my hike, the trail is in good to excellent condition, with few dead trees and branches on the trail to Nevada Fall. No snow remains on any section of the trail to Nevada Fall, and from my observations of that area as well as other areas of the park, the snowline is running at ~8500 feet or higher, depending on the sun exposure of the area. As conditions are warm, and only going to get warmer, it’s a great time to get out and do this hike!
Directions: As noted in previous articles, you’re going to either want to take the Yosemite Park Bus to Happy Isles, where the trailhead for the Mist Trail is, or you’re going to want to bike or walk there. Further directions on distances and everything else can be found here: http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2011/12/15/mist-trail-to-nevada-fall.html, http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2011/12/14/the-mist-trail-to-vernal-falls-summer.html .
More Tips: Another good reason to hike this trail this time of year is the opportunity to see wildlife – on my recent hike, I saw a number of animals that will likely not be present during the busy summer season. As for traffic on the trail: it was busy, but it will only be getting busier as the season progresses, so get out there to avoid the rush while you can!