John Muir Trail, California


The world renowned John Muir Trail (JMT) runs 220 miles from the Yosemite Valley to Whitney Portal where it summits Mt Whitney, the highest peak in the continental US. This amazingly scenic wilderness trek crosses 5 national parks but no roads.


We spent 27 days on the trail in August of 2014 although many do it in much less time. Take the time you have. It’s worth every day you spend on the trail.

For information on the practical aspects of planning the trip, including obtaining the necessary permits, resupply locations and trail descriptions, we used Elizabeth Wenk’s John Muir Trail: The essential guide to hiking America’s most famous trail.

One of the great joys of the JMT is the people you meet along the way. The adventures of writer Patricia Herr and her daughters, Alex and Sage, are an example of the amazing stories we encountered on the trail. You can read about their experience on the JMT and their quest to bag the highest peak in every state (highpointing) on her blog, Girls on the Way.

JMT August 2014

Resupply Options on the John Muir Trail (JMT), CA
Reviews and information on various resupply locations.

A Gray Start on the JMT – Yosemite Valley, CA
Final preparations before the start of the big hike. Camped at the backpacker campground near Curry Village in Yosemite Valley.

JMT Gray Day Number 2 – Yosemite, CA
Day 1 – Happy Isles (4,040ft) to Half Dome junction (6,980).
6 miles plus 3 miles for the detour to the sub-dome.
Camped about one half mile past Half Dome junction towards Sunrise Creek.

JMT – A Bear, Half Dome and Yes, Finally the Sun, Yosemite, CA
Day 2 – Half Dome Junction (6,980ft) to Sunrise Lakes Junction (9,310ft).
7.3 miles plus 5 mile detour to and from Half Dome (8,839ft).
Camped at the popular campground near Sunrise Lakes Junction.

JMT – Sunrise Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite, CA
Day 3 – Sunrise Lakes junction (9,310) to Tuolumne Meadows (8,600) via Cathedral Pass (9,700).
10 miles
Camped at the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker’s campground.

JMT – Lyell Canyon, Yosemite, CA
Day 4 – Tuolumne Meadows (8,600ft) to second Lyell Fork crossing (10,190).
11.5 miles
Camped at the lake near the second Lyell Fork crossing.

JMT – Donohue Pass – Entering Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA
Day 5 – second Lyell Fork crossing (10,190ft) to Emerald Lake (9,900ft) via Donohue Pass (11,060ft).
9 miles
Camped at Emerald Lake.

JMT – Emerald Lake to Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA
Day 6 – Emerald Lake (9,900ft) to Trinity Lakes (8,990ft),
10 miles.
Camped on one of the knobs near Trinity Lakes.

JMT – Trinity Lakes to Red’s Meadow Resort, CA
Day 7 – Trinity Lakes (8,990ft) to Red’s Meadow (7,500ft).
Approximately 5.5 miles.
Stayed the night in a bunkhouse room at Red’s Meadow Resort.

JMT – Red’s Meadow to Deer Creek, John Muir Wilderness, CA
Day 8 – Red’s Meadow (7,500) to Deer Creek (9,100),
5.5 miles.
Camped at Deer Creek.

JMT – Deer Creek to Lake Virginia, John Muir Wilderness, CA
Day 9 – Deer Creek (9,100) to Lake Virginia (10,330),
9.7 miles.
Camped at Lake Virginia.

JMT – Lake Virginia to Mono Creek Junction, John Muir Wilderness, CA
Day 10 – Lake Virginia (10,330ft) to Mono Creek junction (8,350ft) via Cascade Valley junction (9,190ft) and Silver Pass (10,740),
12 miles.
Camped near Mono Creek junction.

JMT – Resupply at Vermilion Valley Resort, CA
Day 11 – Mono Creek junction (8,350ft) to Vermilion Valley Resort (7,643).
2.8 miles to the Lake Edison Trail junction plus approximately 2.5 miles to the current “ferry” pick-up point.
Spent the night in a motel room at Vermilion Valley Resort.

JMT – Bear Creek Trail, John Muir Wilderness, CA
Day 12 – Vermilion Valley Resort (7,643ft) to Bear Creek junction (8,940ft) via the Bear Creek Trail,
10.3 miles.
Camped about a mile up the JMT past Bear Creek junction.

JMT – Bear Creek to Sallie Keyes Lakes, John Muir Wilderness, CA
Day 13 –Bear Creek junction (8,940ft) to past Sallie Keyes Lakes (10,100ft) via Selden Pass (10,900ft),
9.5 miles.
Camped on a knob with mountain views about 1.5 miles past Sallie Keyes Lakes.

JMT – Sallie Keyes Lakes to Muir Trail Ranch, John Muir Wilderness, CA
Day 14 – 1.5 miles past Sallie Keyes Lakes (10,100ft) to Muir Trail Ranch (7,600ft),
4 miles.
Spent the night in a cabin at Muir Trail Ranch.

JMT – Zero Day at Muir Trail Ranch, CA
Day 15 – No miles hiked.
Spent a second night in a cabin at Muir Trail Ranch.

JMT – Muir Trail Ranch to Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon Natl Park, CA
Day 16 – Muir Trail Ranch (7,600ft) to just before the switchbacks that lead up to Evolution Basin, campsite at (9,940ft).
13.2 miles – 1.5 miles back to the JMT plus another 11.7 miles.
Camped near Darwin Creek just below the switchbacks up to Evolution Basin.

JMT – Evolution Basin to Big Pete Meadow via Muir Pass, Kings Canyon Natl Park, CA
Day 17 – Start of the switchbacks that lead up to Evolution Basin (9,940ft) to Big Pete Meadow (9,240ft) via Muir Pass (11, 980ft),
13.7 miles.
Camped just past the Big Pete Meadow creek crossing.

JMT – Big Pete Meadow to Palisade Lakes, Kings Canyon Natl Park, CA
Day 18 – Big Pete Meadow (9,240ft) to Upper Palisade Lake (10,840) via Middle Fork junction (8,030),
13.3 miles.
Camped in the scrubby trees above the second Palisade Lake.

JMT – Mather Pass to Pinchot Pass, Kings Canyon Natl Park, CA
Day 19 – Upper Palisade Lake (10,840) to above Twin Lakes (10,890ft) via Mather Pass (12,100ft), South Fork Kings crossing (10,040ft) and Pinchot Pass (12,130ft),
15.3 miles.
Camped on a ridge between two lakes just above Twin Lakes.

JMT – Twin Lakes to Rae Lakes, Kings Canyon Natl Park, CA
Day 20 – Twin Lakes (10,890ft) to Rae Lakes (10,560ft) via Woods Creek junction (8,510ft),
11.7 miles.
Camped near Sixty Lake Basin junction.

JMT- Rae Lakes to Independence, Kings Canyon Natl Park, CA
Day 21 – Rae Lakes (10,560ft) to Onion Valley Trailhead (9,200ft) via Glen Pass (11,970ft) Kearsarge Pass junction (10,770ft) and Kearsarge Pass (11,810ft).
4 miles on the JMT to Kearsarge Pass junction plus 7.4 miles to the Onion Valley Trailhead.
Stayed at the Independence Inn in Independence.

JMT – Zero Day in Independence, CA
Day 22 – No miles hiked.
Stayed a second night in Independence at Mt Williamson Motel.

JMT – Onion Valley Trailhead to Center Basin Creek, Kings Canyon Natl Park, CA
Day 23 – Onion Valley Trailhead (9,200ft) to Center Basin Creek (10,530ft) via Kearsarge Pass (11,810ft).
11.5 miles – 7.2 miles to Bullfrog Lake junction plus 4.3 miles on the JMT.
Camped near the food storage box just before the Center Basin Creek crossing.

JMT – Forester Pass – Entering Sequoia Natl Park, NA
Day 24 – Center Basin Creek (10,530ft) to Tyndall Frog Ponds (11,030ft) via Forester Pass (13,110ft),
10.5 miles.
Camped near Tyndall Frog Ponds.

JMT – Tyndall Frog Ponds to Guitar Lake, Mt Whitney, CA
Day 25 – Tyndall Frog Ponds (11,030ft) to Guitar Lake (11,470ft) – although no passes to climb the trail climbs up and down several ridges.
11 miles.
Camped near the outlet of Guitar Lake.

JMT – Summiting Mt Whitney, CA
Day 26 – Guitar Lake (11,470ft) to Mt Whitney summit (14,505ft) and back down to Outpost Camp (10,370ft),
11.2 miles.
Camped at Outpost Camp.

JMT- Whitney Portal – The End!
Day 27 – Outpost Camp (10,370ft) to Whitney Portal (8,330ft),
3.8 miles.
Slept in a nice soft bed in Mammoth Lakes.

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