John Muir Trail

Postscript—I completed my southbound hike of the John Muir Trail September 9, 2002. I have posted photos from the hike. And a trail log of my hike, too.

What and where—The John Muir Trail is 211 miles long and runs from Yosemite Valley to Mt Whitney, in California. Since the trail ends/starts at the top of the highest point in the lower 48, one must still hike another 11 miles and 6000 ft. down to Whitney Portal, making it in effect the true southern trail head.
The JMT runs through 3 National Parks: Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia (Click on the "In Depth" icons for more info). When not within a National Park, it runs through Forest Service-(Inyo) land, including the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness areas. The trail also passes through the Devils Postpile National Monument near Red's meadow.

Here is more information (main John Muir Trail info page), including a map.

A table of mileages, elevations, and some notes.

A list of other people's trip reports.

Weather—Weather in the Sierra this time of year is usually very dry, hot days and cool nights down low (ca. 4,000') and cool to warm days and cold nights up high (ca. 9,000'-10,000'). Rain is not too common, but severe thunderstorms can blow up. (It's not like the Colorado Rockies in the late summer, where afternoon thunderstorms are almost a certainty.) Snow is possible but not likely. I have some links to relevant JMT weather sites on my Weather page.

Notice Yosemite Valley (real-time) is substantially warmer than Tuolumne Meadows (real-time). Also note that some of these real-time weather sites are frequently down.


How long? Depending on what kind of shape the person is in, how heavy a load he/she carries (in more ways than one),the weather, and all sorts of other things, it seems the entire length takes anywhere from ten days to over a month. I think three weeks is a prudent goal. That's about ten miles a day. I'd like to do it quicker, but I may even do it more slowly. I'd be pleased as punch to do it in two weeks, but that would mean an average of over 15 miles per day. I should have a pretty good idea of how long it will take by the time I reach my halfway resupply at Muir Trail Ranch. (I ended up doing it in exactly twenty-one days. pmg.)


Resupply—Speaking of resupply...You'll notice from the mileage table that there are a few places to come into contact with the world. I will probably resupply at Tuolumne Meadows campground (since I want to lighten my load as much as possible on the first two back-breaking days), and may buy some food or supplies at Red's Meadow Campground in Devil's Postpile. They even have a cafe there. Also there is Vermillion Valley Resort, a few miles off the trail and a couple of days before Muir Trail Ranch. VVR looks like a good place to stay over one night.

The main resupply is the last one at about 105 miles, Muir Trail Ranch. It's basically a dude ranch/resort but I've already shipped them a twenty-pound bucket of food and stuff which they hold for a fee. That's absolutely the last point to get anything, so I need to finish the hike with what I leave from there. They'll put you up if you have reservations and some major money. Not my intention. They check and receive mail about once a week, so postcards I mail from there may not precede my completion of the trail.


Fires—The fires in the news lately (McNally) are farther to the South and West. In Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest, not Sequoia National Park. Although the smoke is hindering visibility along the JMT, the fires shouldn't be a problem. As of 8/12/2002, the McNally fire was 70% contained. (McNally fire info.) (The fire actually ended up being a bit of a problem. See the trail log for days 14 and 15. pmg.)