The John Muir Trail
Through the Californian Sierra Nevada
By Alan Castle
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.
SeasonsAugust is best, July normally fine but late snow may be a problem
CentresStarts Yosemite and finishes at Whitney Portal; Tuolmmne, Vermilion Resort and Muir Trail Range along the way; access through San Francisco or Los Angeles
Difficultyspectacular, remote and risks of poor weather; backpacking throughout, carrying all required food; tough trekking but no route-finding difficulties; beware of bears!
Must SeeYosemite (rock walls of El Capitan, Half Dome etc), King's Canyon and Sequoia national parks, Anselm Adams wilderness, Mount Whitney
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:
- advice on preparation, including trekking permits, food caches along the trail and how to deal with bears and river crossings
- variants and escape routes, camp sites, bear box locations and resupply points
ascent, descent and distance tables for all stages
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
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Alan Castle has trekked and cycled in over 30 countries within Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australasia. A member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild, he has written 18 guidebooks, several on long-distance mountain routes in France. An erstwhile national secretary and long-distance path information officer of the Long Distance Walkers Association, Alan now lives at the foot of the Moffat Hills in Scotland.View Guidebooks by Alan Castle
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