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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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|Buy your choice of routes or chapters to read online, on your mobile device or to download as a PDF to print or read.||Browse Routes|
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|
|Start||Half Dome Trail Junction/Sunrise Creek|
|Finish||Sunrise High Sierra Camp|
|Cumulative distance||19.9 miles|
|Map(s)||Harrison Map Sheet 13|
|Cumulative ascent/descent from Yosemite||7600ft/2250ft|
A short day, in fact the shortest on the whole of the JMT apart from the very last day after Whitney. This will give your body time to recover from the exertions of yesterday’s Half Dome climb and to savour this truly remarkable area. There is one fairly steep climb though, so all is not relaxation.
|Location||Height (ft)||Distance (miles): Sectional||Distance (miles): Cumulative|
|Camping area east of JMT/Half Dome Junction||7160||0||0|
|JMT/Merced Lake Trail Junction||7940||2.3||2.3|
|Viewpoint (top of ascent)||9700||3.3||5.6|
|Sunrise High Sierra Camp||9360||2.0||7.6|
From the camping area continue along the trail to reach the stream which you have been using as a source of water for your overnight camp. Immediately after crossing the stream turn right to climb on the John Muir Trail following the line of Sunrise Creek. Follow the path until you reach a trail junction: straight on leads to Merced Lake, but for the JMT turn left, signposted to Tuolumne Meadows (15.6 miles). Within less than ¼ mile the junction with the Forsyth Trail is encountered. This heads off to the left signposted to Tenaya Lake in 7.8 miles. Ignore this path and continue ahead on the JMT, which is coincident with the Sunrise Trail from this point: trail markings here give Cathedral Lake as 9.5 miles and Tuolumne Meadows as 14.7 miles.
The stage terminates at Sunrise High Sierra Camp. Sunrise Camp caters mainly for fee-paying guests who stay in hut-style accommodation while on walking holidays in the Yosemite area. The camp usually has a limited quantity of tinned and dehydrated food for sale, but it is best not to rely on this. They may also provide you with dinner and breakfast for a fee, but it is important to note that they are often full up with guests and so have no extra food available. If you would like to stay in their accommodation and eat the meals then you would be advised to book with the camp (tel. 559-252-4848) before you leave Yosemite Valley (or even earlier if possible). There are five or six of these ‘camps’ in the Yosemite area, all owned by the High Sierra Camps organisation: clients go on short walking holidays in the park and link these camps for nightly accommodation. You may well feel envious of these hikers, as they are unburdened with the heavy pack that you are no doubt beginning to loath – despair not, as your sac will probably seem more manageable as the days progress.
Continue along the well-defined path, eventually drawing near to the stream on the left, Sunrise Creek again. After crossing this creek you begin a major ascent. The climbing path is a good one, zig-zagging through the pine trees and granite boulders. After what may seem like an eternity the gradient eases as the trail reaches a high point. A much needed rest here provides a stunning view to the north of Cathedral Peak and Pass. It is just over a mile from here easily downhill to Long Meadows, where there is a dramatic change in the scenery. Amble along the flat plain to reach the campsite up among the rocks on the left. This is the backpackers’ area of Sunrise Camp. Here there are bear boxes, a water tap (but better to treat or filter the water before drinking) and toilets.