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Mist Trail in Yosemite

One of the most spectacular, adventurous, and popular hiking trails in Yosemite draws crowds of visitors every day during the high season

Best time: late May–mid-October

Mist Trail
Mist Trail
Mist Trail
Mist Trail
Mist Trail

This trail leads to the iconic symbol of Yosemite, Half Dome. Mist Trail is an 11-kilometre route to this striking granite landmark. The trail is so popular that over 2,500 people hike here per day, during summer weekends. Many people suffer from altitude sickness and dehydration along the route, but still continue the hike to the summit. The height of the Half Dome is 2695 metres at the high crown.

The Mist Trail takes the visitors along the 600 steps of granite stairway to the top of the Vernal Fall. The amazing views open to you with every new step. The final 121 meter is almost vertical, so anyone choosing this trail should have basic climbing skills. Steel cables, bolted into the granite, are very helpful in this part of the route. This is definitely not the place to be caught in the storm. Rock becomes extremely slippery, and lightning can be too dangerous in such place as well. Always check the weather before you go.

Rising to the summit, you'll get a breathtaking view over the Yosemite Valley. This summit was once believed to be inaccessible, until the first reaching in 1875 by George Anderson. Today, it is open to thousands of visitors that hike in this region. It is a route to a complete wilderness, where the safety of the hiker is in his or her own hands. The trails mostly take from 10 to 12 hours to reach the summit and come back, but it's very individual and depends on many physical and weather factors.

The best time of the day to hike is early morning, even before sunrise. Every adventurer should walk with a flashlight or headlamp. The trail is well signed, but a topographic map and compass will be an excellent assistance along the way. The access to the cable section requires a permit, which can be received at a special lottery at the end of March. There are also additional lotteries that take place during summer season. Due to icy conditions, parts of the trail are closed in the winter.

Practical info

When is the best time to hike Mist Trail?

Mist Trail in Yosemite is best hiked from late May to mid-October. During this period, the trail is easily accessible and weather is dry. Some parts remain closed in winter. It's advisable to hike early morning before sunrise. Show more

Where can I get a permit to access the cable section of Mist Trail?

A permit is mandatory to access the cable section of Mist Trail. Special lotteries are conducted to provide permits towards March-end and during summer. Cables are usually up from late May to early October. Despite permits, hiking precautions such as proper gear and safety measures are essential. Show more

What should I bring for the hike to Half Dome summit?

Essentials like water, food, first aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellent should be packed while hiking to the summit of Half Dome. Grip-worthy shoes and warm clothing are a must with a flashlight or headlamp. Granite rocks can be slippery. The Half Dome peak can get very cold, and warming clothing is a good idea. Show more

How long does it take to hike Mist Trail and reach Half Dome?

Hiking duration to Mist Trail and Half Dome summit depends primarily on the individual; it can range from 10 to 12 hours with rest-steps. Weather conditions and fitness levels vary the hiking duration. A sound physical fitness level is required before hiking in high altitudes. Show more

What safety precautions should I take when hiking Mist Trail?

Ensuring safety is essential when hiking Mist Trail. Proper hiking gear, plenty of water and snacks and rest breaks, a topographic map, compass, and warm clothing are necessary. Checking the weather forecast to avoid storms and lightning is crucial. Hiking in storm or lightning is a big no-no. Never attempt this hike if you are not physically fit enough. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin