This trail is VERY popular so start early. Started from parking lot near shuttle stop #16. The .6 mile walk to the trailhead via Happy Isles fen (a.k.a. wetlands) was a pleasant surprise.
The warm-up is the uphill walk on the paved trail which takes you to the base of Vernal Falls. The workout begins with the stone steps...over 600! The steps might look terrifying, but don't turn back. Not a standard rise and varies from 1-2 feet or more. A little mist would have felt great, but the dry steps were welcomed, especially in spots where handrails were absent!
Once at top, take photos, admire Emerald Pool (but don't go near) and continue on. Wanting to avoid the steps, opted to take the longer way utilizing the JMT...and so glad we did! It's uphill to Clark Point, but the view of Liberty Cap and the fabulous scenery was breathtaking!
The cool-down is where the trail splits and be sure to read the sign as one trail is for horses only. There's still a lot of 'mess' from horses, but an easier way down the mountain. In short, a nice hike w/restrooms, 20k steps logged over 6.3 miles and one for the bucket list.
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