Guide to John Muir Trail
Running through the wild and untamed nature in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the John Muir Trail is considered one of the most famous trails in the world due to its spectacular mountain scenery. The trail starts from the Yosemite National Park, stretching on for 211 miles through Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park, to the summit of Mount Whitney.
Natural wonders and striking scenery along the way include Ansel Adams Wildernesses, Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Hikers are in for a treat with picturesque views, including soothing forests, striking granite cliffs, ancient glaciers and serene waterfalls.
Planning your trip
It is recommended taking some time enjoying this premier hiking trail. Most people spend about three weeks when going in a leisurely pace. Since the sights are amazing and there are some gorgeous places to camp along the way, it is well-worth taking your time just to enjoy it. If three weeks seems too long, and you still wish to complete the entire trail without rushing, consider breaking it up over a couple of summers.
Once you´ve decided on the duration, food menus and resupply points should be carefully planned. Keep in mind that reservations and permits need to be applied six months prior to your journey. Make sure to have good quality sleeping bag, back pack and hiking boots, and remember essentials such as water filters, cooking gear and good clothing.
There are some amazing campsites along the way. Though you don’t really need to plan in advance where to stay, there are a few sites worth having experienced. The Middle Rae Lake is one of the most popular campsites, and with good reason. With possibilities for refreshing swimming in the lake and with an amazing sunrise over the iconic peaks, the campsite is truly a treat.
Other recommended campsites along the way include Bear Creek, with serene swimming holes and granite boulders, and the Thousand Island Lake. There are plenty of picturesque places to make camp, though keep in mind that camping in some areas are prohibited.
When to go
July through September is considered high-season. During spring, hikers have to handle icy slopes and springs swollen with snowmelt. The snow may actually linger well into August after a heavy winter. The weather is usually good throughout September, being sunny and dry. Beware the occasional afternoon thunderstorm, pack clothing wisely and water-proof your gear.
Day hike or shorter trips
If you want to experience the beauty of the trail without walking the entire trail, follow the trail for a day through a park you want to see. The hiking trail is almost always above 8,000 feet, so keep the high elevation in mind when planning your hike as you´ll be walking slower at such heights.
Following the same philosophy, you can hike for a more than a day, whatever length you prefer. Decide on a starting point either by choosing a park or by selecting a few campsites you want to visit, and plan your route accordingly. Whether you are hiking for hours, days or weeks, the John Muir Trail will leave you with memories lasting a lifetime.