Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap, and Half Dome, as seen from the John Muir trail

Nevada Fall & Liberty Cap

Once you've reached the top of Vernal Fall and passed the pool that lies above it, the next great sight on your itinerary will be the 594-foot (181-meter) cascade of Nevada Fall. You won't see it from this particular angle, though, if you're taking the Mist Trail route. Instead, you'll hike up the canyon below the fall and then climb a set of switchbacks just to the left of the fall. Right when you enter the canyon, there'll be a short side spur that takes you to a viewpoint that looks directly upstream to the falls - it's worth the brief detour.

If you want this view of the falls, take the John Muir alternate route, which departs from the Mist Trail just above the Vernal Fall footbridge and reunites with the Half Dome trail at the top of Nevada Fall. It's longer but not as steep, so it might be a good choice on the return route if your knees are out of warranty. Aside from this one spectacular view near the top of the trail, there isn't much scenery on the John Muir route. By this time, though, you may be too tired to care and have nothing on your mind but getting to the drinking fountain at the footbridge below Vernal Fall. It happens.

If you can't get enough of this photo, by the way, you can download a larger version to use as your desktop wallpaper.