Hiking the John Muir Trail
Hiking the John Muir Trail

Hiking the John Muir Trail

Welcome to our post of images, video and facts about Hiking the John Muir Trail.

Hiking the John Muir Trail

The John Muir Wilderness Trail, or the JMT as it is often abbreviated, is perhaps the planet’s most spectacular trek, and it is North America most famous mid-distance hiking trail.

JMT is 212 miles of stunningly beautiful wilderness, lakes, mountain peaks, ancient forests, cascading rivers and passes that will leave you awestruck at what nature has to offer.

Hiking the John Muir Trail - Yosemite National Park
Hiking the John Muir Trail – Yosemite National Park

It runs through the imposing heights of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California; from Yosemite Valley all the way to the top of Mount Whitney (14,496 ft), the highest point in continental United States.


The John Muir Trail goes through Yosemite Valley
The John Muir Trail goes through Yosemite Valley

Hiking the John Muir Trail Video

Source : The Outdoor Adventure

Named after the great Scottish-American naturalist John Muir, the trail takes you through unspoiled, pristine wildness of the American West and cuts through 3 National Parks, namely Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequioa.

The John Muir Wilderness Trail goes through Kings Canyon National Park
The John Muir Wilderness Trail goes through Kings Canyon National Park

Despite the fact that hiking the John Muir trail negotiates various mountain passes that are over 10,000 ft in elevation, it is well graded and fully within the capabilities of a normal hill walker as no scrambling abilities are necessary.

JMT Trail History

Exploring and mapping activities of the High Sierra began in the late 1800s by men such as Theodore Solomons, Bolton Brown and Joseph LeConte. Solomons was the first to come up with an idea of the trail and become pushing for its construction shortly after the Sierra Club was formed in 1892.

However, to understand JMT’s history, look no further than the life activities of its namesake. John Muir was a dedicated 19th century conservationist and writer who played a leading role in the creation of National Parks in the United States, and by extension, the whole world.

When he arrived in San Francisco in 1868, he immediately began exploring the wilderness areas on foot, carrying his notebook and pen wherever he went. He spent the next years of his life campaigning against the logging and other destructive human activities, and that’s why he founded the Sierra Club in 1892. He died in 1914, and the following year, construction of the John Muir Wilderness Trail began, and was completed 24 years later.

The JMT Trail

JMT is regarded as the premier hiking trail of the Sierra Nevada, traversing through some of the most iconic and beautiful terrain in the range.

Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite
Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite

It goes through 3 National Parks and 2 vast swathes of designated wilderness: Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness. Apart from the first 11 km as you leave Yosemite Valley, JMT’s elevation never falls below 2,100 m, or 7,000 ft. It climbs 10 mountain passes that are over 10,000 ft, and by the time it tops out at the highest peak in the lower 48, the sum total of the elevation gain will be more than 45,000 ft.

From its official northern terminus in Yosemite Valley – the lowest section of the trail – the trail heads northeast to the Toulumne Meadows. On the way, some people elect to add a day to explore the glacially curved summits of Half Dome or Clouds Rest, since they are located close to the trail. From the Tuolumne Meadows, the trail turns southward on an upward ascent out of Yosemite National Park through the 11,050-foot Donahue Pass.

The southward progression continues through the Ansel Adams Wilderness into some spectacular lake country that is below the Ritter Range and Minarets, before descending into Red Meadows, a stopover for restocking food that is close to the Mammoth Lakes. The impressive basalt columns of Devils Postpile, a National Monument, are also in close proximity to the Mammoth Lakes.

The stunning scenery at Mamoth Lakes
The stunning scenery at Mamoth Lakes

The trail continues to blaze southward, crossing into the John Muir Wilderness and dropping into Cascade Valley before climbing the 10,900-foot Silver Pass. After this point, the John Muir Wilderness Trail begins a descent towards the eastern section of Lake Thomas A. Edison where hikers can access the Vermillion Valley Resort for food supplies via ferry.

The trail then ascends 10,870 ft over the Selden Pass before descending into the Muir Trail Ranch area, the halfway point of JMT. Here you will find hot springs and another resupply point.

Still continuing southwards, the trail follows the San Joaquin River’ South Fork before entering the Kings Canyon National Park and forward into Evolution Basin, a bare but scenic section en route to the Muir Hut which sits on top of the Muir Pass.

From here, the trail descends following the upper ambits of the King’s River Middle Fork into LeConte Canyon, before deviating to follow Palisades Creek via a long ascent referred to as the Golden Staircase. The ascent leads to Mather Pass from where the trail takes the South Fork of Kings River on the way to Woods Creek suspension bridge crossing via the 12,100-foot Pinchot Pass.

From here JMT climbs to the dramatic Rae Lakes Basin en route to the Glen Pass. The Rae Lakes Basin is a scenic loop that has everything: rushing waterfalls, magnificently chiseled canyons and beautiful lake basins. This loop is one of the most popular in the Sierra.

The trail then drops south into Bubbs Creek Canyon, passing through the Kearsarge Pass trail junction which is the last food resupply point via Onion Valley. After this point, JMT starts the long ascent to Forester Pass at 13,200 ft which is the highest of JMT’s passes.

This point also marks the border area between Kings Canyon and Sequioa National Parks. The trail continues southwards via Tyndall Creek and Bighorn Plateau before climbing again to Whitney through Crabtree Meadow and Guitar Lake.

The John Muir Wilderness Trail officially ends at the 14,505-foot peak of Mount Whitney. Throughout the walk you will pass through several biotic zones ranging from scrub at the lower elevations to subalpine forests and alpine meadows as you climb further.

Some of the wildlife found along the trail include the golden-mantled ground squirrel, the yellow-bellied marmot, bighorn sheep, California condors, Stellar’s Jay, the Clark’s Nutracker and the American Dipper. Others include the Belding’s ground squirrel, coyote, pikas, bears and wild dogs.

JMT Permit Information

Everyone must get a permit before hiking the John Muir Trail. There are several managing agencies mandated to issue permits and they include Inyo National Forest; Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Sequioa National Parks and the Sierra National Forest. Since most hikers start in Yosemite, it is advisable to get a permit from Yosemite National Park.

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