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.



August is best, July normally fine but late snow may be a problem


Starts Yosemite and finishes at Whitney Portal; Tuolmmne, Vermilion Resort and Muir Trail Range along the way; access through San Francisco or Los Angeles


spectacular, remote and risks of poor weather; backpacking throughout, carrying all required food; tough trekking but no route-finding difficulties; beware of bears!
Must See

Must See

Yosemite (rock walls of El Capitan, Half Dome etc), King's Canyon and Sequoia national parks, Anselm Adams wilderness, Mount Whitney
5 Mar 2015
20 Nov 2018
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
  • Overview

    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
  • Contents

    John Muir
    Parks along the JMT
    The Pacific Crest Trail
    Using this Guide
    Planning your Trip
    Flights to California
    Public Transport to and from the Trailhead
    Booking Accommodation
    Food Supplies
    General Fitness and Trail Fitness
    Health and Medical Considerations
    Water Purification
    Coping with Altitude
    Dealing with Bears
    River Crossings
    Other Natural Hazards
    Low-impact Trekking and National Park/Wilderness Regulations
    Camp Routine
    Time Difference
    Public Holidays in the US
    The Natural World by Dr Charles Aitchison
    Geology of the Sierra Nevada
    Vegetation and Flowers
    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 1 Camping Areas on the JMT
    Appendix 2 Ranger Stations along the JMT
    Appendix 3 Escape Routes on the JMT
    Appendix 4 Bear Box Locations on the JMT
    Appendix 5 Mountain Passes and Peaks on the JMT
    Appendix 6 Useful Addresses and Websites in the UK and US
    Appendix 7 Bibliography
    Appendix 8 Trail Summary Table

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Alan Castle

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