'The mountains are calling and I must go!' John Muir's famous words inspired a generation to get outside and discover the outdoors. They laid the foundation of the US national park system, and they lead to a world of epic discoveries; something for which we're truly thankful. This true pioneer knew how valuable the raw beauty and still silences found only in nature can be. And on this trail, you'll experience the best of it: With every mile you hike along the John Muir Trail, you'll be reminded of just how right he was — and you'll understand why he loved this region so much.
The John Muir Trail leads through the USA's most beautiful alpine landscapes. Starting in Yosemite, you will cross the country of nine and twelve thousand feet summits; of a thousand lakes, mighty gorges and granite rocks. And you'll gain over 14,500 feet (4,400 meters) in elevation. Due to the mild climate and long sunny days, however, you'll be able to hike comfortably for longer — something that's truly special for a mountain range of this magnitude.
Enjoy every mile, every ascent and every view from the trail. And enjoy every fireside meal and every night in your tent. Like any big adventure, the key to a good time is good preparation: This trail is not one that is suitable for beginners, and long stretches of it will cover rocky, steep and difficult terrain. Also, due to the various isolated stages, you'll need to bring all of your supplies with you. Therefore, before you go, refer to the PCT Organization's checklist, which details everything you need to know, from packing lists, weather conditions and the location of supply-refill points en route. Visit pcta.org/discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/jmt-faq and make this dream come true.
Day 1. Today the real adventure begins. Here on this first leg, your trail will take you from the trailhead to the Vernal Falls and past the first milestone to make another detour to the Half-Dome - which you should absolutely see and climb. For that you need a special permit, which is available at the National Park Service. Just in time request. After coming down from the top of the hill, we'll spend the first night camping at Little Yosemite Valley.
From the Little Yosemite Campground we continue for a while along the trail towards Half Dome, but then continue to the right over the impressive Clouds Rest at over 3000 meters. The very special rock form and the view are quite impressive. Afterwards we continue via the Clouds Rest Trail to the Sunrise High Sierra Camp. You do not lose a lot of altitude, you always move between 2700 and 3000 meters above the sea.
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From the Sunrise High Sierra Camp, head over the peaks to beautiful Cathedral Lake, the perfect place for a long break. And the location of today's stage destination could hardly be more beautiful. The campsite is located directly on the river and the view of the mountains guarantees you a short mouth.
From the Iceland Pass, you'll pass lakes, lakes and even more beautiful lakes, right up to ... Johnston Lake, a lake. If you're lucky, you'll meet cowboys that actually exist here. With highways in this high remote region is nothing, so it goes on horseback through the country.
Today you will see true wonders of nature. From Johnstons Lake, it is always slightly downhill. The small sidecut to the Rainbow Falls is worth every step and not far. Here you have managed about half of today. Back on the John Muir Trail, it's a good 500 meters up to the Deer Creek, where you are looking for your campsite for the night.
From the lake, it's a good five kilometers downhill, through bizarre beautiful rocky landscapes. You'll quickly gain altitude again and reach the Silver Pass for a total of ten kilometers, the highest point of the day at 3,200m. Then it's just downhill to the small grove on North Fork Mono Creek, which provides good protection for building the tent.
From the camp, we will pass Lake Edison for the first time, up into a beautiful green plateau. But soon a barren landscape sets in again, but it is no less impressive. You can pitch your camp almost anywhere, no matter if on kilometer 16 or 18, there are many small streams that provide you with water. So just pick a nice spot.
After the thousand meters of yesterday, today it is mainly downhill. Again, it's back to beautiful lakes and small streams over. After four kilometers you have already reached the highest point at 3,300 meters, then it goes downhill, past the beautiful Sallie Keyes Lakes, until you arrive at the Muir Trail Ranch.
Always along the river today, the ranch climbs steadily uphill to Evolution Meadow. The river changes constantly. Sometimes a little wider and quieter, sometimes really narrow and wild. In any case, always refreshingly clear. When you arrive at Evolution Meadow, you'll suddenly be amazed at the entirely different image, the free green plain.
Although today it is more downhill than uphill, you reach the lakes to over 3,600 meters. As you already notice that the air gets thinner - but fortunately you are now very well acclimatized. The rest of the way goes downhill into the valley of the Middle Fork King River.
Today we continue downhill for almost 12 kilometers, following the river, before the Middle Fork King's River flows to the right and you walk to the left up to the confluence of the Pallisade, Cateract and Glacier Creek. Here you also set up your tent at a suitable place.
On your way to the Kings Canyon National Park, you'll start with a motivated effort and take the 1000 vertical meters that today holds for you with left. First it goes 7 kilometers up to almost 3.700m, then gently downhill. After the day you are guaranteed to sleep well. And wake up with a breathtaking view.
Along the small powerful babbling brook, it goes down through the Kings Canyon, before you collect on the way to the Rae Lake up again height meters. There are many wonderful places to camp here. Often you can not decide that fast, but the days in the wild make you more and more experienced.
From the lake it goes first steeply up to 3,630 meters. As you might have seen on your trip, the region does not do much on the roads and so the horse is the best delivery service from A to B. Here it goes below the 3000 mark in the plane before a gentle slope to today The end of the stage leads to where you are looking for a nice campground on Bubbles Creek.
Clench your teeth, take a deep breath and head up to the almost 4000 meter high Forester Pass. Hard to believe in what heights brings you the John Muir Trail. And where you go up, you go down well again, so it goes to kilometer 15 first downhill comfortably. If you still have strength and desire, you should definitely make the detour to this beautiful blue lake. The whole scenery is really unique. But if you're a little tired from all the mountain air, just head straight to Tyndall Creek and set up camp.
The penultimate day! Unbelievable that it's almost over. Today it goes up and down and up and down, through beautiful landscapes, the mountain edges always in view. You can camp at Timberline Lake or at Guitar Lake, where there are definitely plenty of nice spots to choose from.
The last day, the highest point, a journey comes to an end. From the lakes, you can climb over 4000 meters, past Mount Muir and Mount Whitey - at 4,416 meters, the highest point of the entire hike and once again the fulfillment of all your dreams. You'll be a bit saddened as you head down the 7-kilometer descent to the Whitney Portal campsite and end this great camping tour. Back you come across different options, inform yourself here, which is the best for you: pcta.org/discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/jmt-transportation