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Guidebook to walking the John Muir Trail through California's High Sierra from Yosemite (El Capitan and Half Dome) to the summit of Mount Witney. The 216 mile hike is split into 21 daily stages, with full information on preparation, permits, wilderness, bears, water and trekking skills. Part of the Pacific Crest Trail.
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The John Muir Trail (JMT) is a world-famous trek and North America's best known walking trail. It runs for 216 miles through California's Sierra Nevada mountains, from Yosemite Valley (El Capitan and Half-Dome) to the summit of Mount Whitney (14,496ft), the highest peak in the US outside Alaska. It also makes up part of the epic Pacific Crest Trail which runs the length of the Rockies through Canada and the US.
All you need to know to plan and prepare for your trip is contained within this guide, from obtaining trekking permits to buying trek food and forwarding food caches along the trail. Abundant advice is given on such topics as dealing with inquisitive bears, coping with altitude, negotiating river crossings, as well as tips on booking transport to and from the trailheads and on what equipment to take. In addition there is a detailed description of the flora and fauna of this remarkable region.
The walking trail, which is named after the great 19th-century Scottish naturalist, conservationist and writer John Muir, is entirely through the unspoilt wilderness of the American West and passes through three national parks: Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Information includes:
We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our Feedback form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).
|Parks along the JMT|
|The Pacific Crest Trail|
|Using this Guide|
|Planning your Trip|
|Flights to California|
|Public Transport to and from the Trailhead|
|General Fitness and Trail Fitness|
|Health and Medical Considerations|
|Coping with Altitude|
|Dealing with Bears|
|Other Natural Hazards|
|Low-Impact Trekking and National Park/Wilderness Regulations|
|Public Holidays in the US|
|The Natural World by Dr Charles Aitchison|
|Geology of the Sierra Nevada|
|Vegetation and Flowers on the John Muir Trail|
|Birds of the John Muir Trail|
|Mammals along the Trail|
|Day 1 Yosemite Valley (Happy Isles) to Half Dome Trail Junction/Sunrise Creek and the Ascent of Half Dome|
|Day 2 Half Dome Trail Junction/Sunrise Creek to Sunrise High Sierra Camp|
|Day 3 Sunrise High Sierra Camp via Cathedral Pass to Tuolumne Meadows|
|Day 4 Tuolumne Meadows to Upper Lyell Canyon|
|Day 5 Upper Lyell Canyon via Donohue Pass and Island Pass to Thousand Island Lake|
|Day 6 Thousand Island Lake to the Devil’s Postpile|
|Day 7 The Devil’s Postpile via Reds Meadow to Deer Creek|
|Day 8 Deer Creek to Tully Hole/Cascade Valley Junction|
|Day 9 Tully Hole/Cascade Valley Junction via Silver Pass to Edison Lake|
|Day 10 Edison Lake to Rosemarie Meadow|
|Day 11 Rosemarie Meadow via Seldon Pass to the Muir Trail Ranch|
|Day 12 Muir Trail Ranch to McClure Meadow|
|Day 13 McClure Meadow via Muir Pass to Unnamed Lake North-East of Helen Lake|
|Day 14 Unnamed Lake North-East of Helen Lake to Deer Meadow|
|Day 15 Deer Meadow via Mather Pass to Kings River|
|Day 16 Kings River via Pinchot Pass to Woods Creek|
|Day 17 Woods Creek via Glen Pass to Vidette Meadow|
|Day 18 Vidette Meadow via Forester Pass to Tyndall Creek|
|Day 19 Tyndall Creek to Guitar Lake|
|Day 20 Guitar Lake via Mount Whitney and Trail Crest to Trail Camp; and the ascent of Mount Whitney|
|Day 21 Trail Camp to Whitney Portal|
|Appendix A Camping Areas on the JMT|
|Appendix B Ranger Stations along the JMT|
|Appendix C Escape Routes on the JMT|
|Appendix D Bear Box Locations on the JMT|
|Appendix E Mountain Passes and Peaks on the JMT|
|Appendix F Useful Addresses and Websites in the UK and US|
|Appendix G Bibliography|
|Appendix H Trail Summary Table|
There are several maps that cover all or part of the John Muir Trail. The United States Forestry Service produces a number of ‘Wilderness Maps’ which are useful, covering the JMT outside Yosemite. The John Muir/Sequoia–Kings Canyon Wilderness Map and the Ansel Adams Wilderness Map are the most useful sheets.
There are several maps available locally which cover the Yosemite National Park. The Inyo National Forest Map is another possible map, and covers the whole area through which the Trail passes. These maps are easily obtainable in the US, but less so outside the country.
The best maps both for planning in the UK and use on the JMT in America are contained within the John Muir Trail Map-Pack: Tom Harrison’s Maps. The Map-Pack consists of 13 colour topographical, shaded-relief maps depicting the John Muir Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and numerous side-trails. Campgrounds, ranger stations and information centres are also shown. The maps run from Whitney to Yosemite Valley (sheet numbers 1 to 13), so walkers following the route in this guidebook will use them in the order Sheet 13 to Sheet 1. The sheets required for each stage of the hike are given at the beginning of each daily stage in the route guide section of this book. For further information on Tom Harrison’s maps go to www.tomharrisonmaps.com.
Tom Harrison’s John Muir Trail Map-Pack is usually obtainable in Britain from retailers such as The Map Shop in Upton-upon-Severn and Stanford’s in London, Bristol and Manchester (see Appendix F). The Map-Pack is rather expensive, particularly when purchased in the UK, but it is the author’s recommended map for the JMT. The maps are clear and easy to use – although the contour lines are at 80ft intervals.
Navigation along the John Muir Trail is generally easy, far more so than a route across the Scottish Highlands, for example, and more straightforward than many long-distance routes in Europe. With use of the Tom Harrison maps and this guidebook the trail of the JMT should never be in doubt.