"Glacier Point Falls"

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

About “Glacier Point Falls”

Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2011-06-03
Date last visited: 2011-06-03

Waterfall Latitude: 37.72601
Waterfall Longitude: -119.56757

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

“Glacier Point Falls” is the informal name I’m giving to this very short-lived waterfall.

In all the years I’ve visited Yosemite and hiked the John Muir Trail, I had never really noticed this waterfall.

Vernal_Nevada_Loop_011_06032011 - The very seasonal Glacier Point Falls
The very seasonal Glacier Point Falls

Either it wasn’t flowing or it was a case of bad timing each time I came here.

But all that changed in June 2011 when I happened to be re-doing the whole Nevada Falls / Vernal Fall loop and noticed this waterfall flowing fairly well.

I spotted it somewhere along the first mile or so en route to the Vernal Fall footbridge from the Happy Isles Trailhead.

It could also be that the record snowpack from that Winter and Spring also helped to bring this waterfall back to life.

I suppose this unpredictability alone could make one argue that this shouldn’t count as a legitimate waterfall.

Vernal_Nevada_Loop_049_06032011 - Direct look back at the very seasonal Glacier Point Falls from around the brink of Vernal Fall
Direct look back at the very seasonal Glacier Point Falls from around the brink of Vernal Fall

Either way, I put this page in so you can decide.

Because this waterfall appeared to be sourced from the melting snow around the Glacier Point vicinity, this was the how I came up with this informal name for the falls.

Actually, I had recalled other websites citing this so-called “Glacier Point Falls” and perhaps this was what they were talking about.

In any case, you could make the argument that this really should be called “Washburn Point Falls” because I recalled hiking across a flooded part of the Panorama Trail somewhere beneath Washburn Point.

And it’s totally reasonable to conclude that the cascade responsible for the flooding on the trail also drained further downslope over the cliffs into the Merced River Canyon at least 2000ft or more below.

Vernal_Nevada_Loop_046_06032011 - Context of the brink of Vernal Fall where I got the direct view of the Glacier Point Falls (when it's flowing)
Context of the brink of Vernal Fall where I got the direct view of the Glacier Point Falls (when it’s flowing)

In addition to noticing the waterfall on the paved part of the John Muir Trail, I was also able to spot it from the brink of Vernal Fall itself.


“Glacier Point Falls” resides in Yosemite National Park near Yosemite Village in Mariposa County, California. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Vernal_Nevada_Loop_019_06032011 - The paved part of the John Muir Trail, which was one of the places that we spotted the ephemeral Glacier Point Falls
Vernal_Nevada_Loop_031_06032011 - Julie on the Mist Trail leading up to the brink of Vernal Fall, where I got another decent look at the Glacier Point Falls
Vernal_Nevada_Loop_040_06032011 - Looking back down towards other hikers making their way up the Mist Trail to the brink of Vernal Fall
Vernal_Nevada_Loop_042_06032011 - Going up the narrow cliff-hugging part of the Mist Trail en route to the brink of the Vernal Fall
Glacier_Point_047_06022011 - Flooded part of Panorama Trail somewhere beneath Washburn Point. I think this stream may be largely responsible for the so-called 'Glacier Point Falls'

This waterfall can be found on the John Muir Trail starting from the Happy Isles Trailhead (signpost V24).

See either the Vernal Fall or Nevada Falls page for directions on getting to the Happy Isles Nature Center.

As for the overall context of getting to this part of Yosemite Valley, from Los Angeles, it was about 311 miles (5.5 hours drive) via our preferred route of going through Fresno, Oakhurst, and passing near Yosemite West.

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Tagged with: yosemite, national park, john muir trail, mist trail, vernal fall, mariposa, sierra, california, waterfall, glacier point, ephemeral, washburn point

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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