Hike the John Muir Trail

Starting From

$4,199/person

Number of days

23

Start Location

Yosemite National Park

Group Size

4-10

Operated by

World Expeditions

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A traverse of the stunning Sierra mountain range from Mt. Whitney to Yosemite National Park

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.

Itinerary

Join Cottonwood

Today is a day to go over our gear and prepare for the adventure ahead. We meet at our headquarters in Bishop (approx. 11:00am), do a gear check, collect resupply bags, and pick up last minute items before heading south to Cottonwood Meadows. It will a busy morning, clarifying resupply needs, finalizing personal gear, and distributing group gear. You will have 7 days of personal snacks and powdered drinks in your pack when we meet, which you provide. You will purchase your own lunch in Bishop and after lunch we will drive approx. 2 hours to the Cottonwood Campground. We'll camp at the Cottonwood Campground which is already at approximately 3000m (10,000 feet) in elevation - Giving us a chance to further acclimate before beginning our adventure. *Complimentary transfer from hotels in Mammoth and Bishop, upon request.

Commence John Muir Trail at Cottonwood; hike to Crabtree Meadow.

To further assist in acclimation, we start off slowly and ease into the hiking with a short first day of about 8km and 400m altitude gain taking us to camp at Chicken Springs Lake. From there, we lose some elevation, spending the next 2 nights between 2900m-3200m as we approach Mt. Whitney. Daily distances are approx: 8, 16, and 13 km

Summit Mount Whitney

We plan to make our base at Crabtree Meadows or Guitar Lake for 2 nights in order to reduce pack weight and focus on the big day ahead - The summit of the highest point of our journey, the stunning Mount Whitney (4418m). The hike is approximately 23km, round trip, with an elevation gain of approximately 1200m. We will be happy we only have to carry enough items for the day - And for the final summit push, we can even leave these at Trailcrest to be picked up on our way back down. Those who are not feeling up to the big day can easily stay in camp, soak up the scenery and relax.

Hike to Rae Lakes via Forester Pass and Glen Pass

This is a spectacular segment as it traverses high glacial bowls far above the main river drainage system and includes two of the highest passes on the trail - Forester Pass at 4025m and Glen Pass at 3650m, before descending to beautiful Rae Lakes where we pick up our food re-supply. Daily distances of approx. 12 - 21km

Rae Lakes to Big Pete Meadow

From Rae, we head down to Woods Creek and climb up over Pinchot Pass (3690m) before dropping into the expanse of Upper Basin at the head of the South Fork of the Kings River. The crossing of Mather Pass (3670m) gives us a view of our route to the north before we descend the 'Golden Staircase' that takes us far down into Palisade Creek and the deeply incised Le Conte Canyon. Our next resupply comes in via mule and we pick that up at Big Pete Meadow. Daily distances of approx. 13-19km

Hike to Marie Lake for resupply

For many people, this is the most beautiful section of the JMT. We stay high through the Evolution Valley, pass by the stone shelter at Muir Pass (3645m), commence a large swing out to the western Sierra, and gradually lose elevation until we reach our lowest point of about 2390 meters at Muir Trail Ranch. Our resupply has been sent by post and awaits our arrival. Daily distances of approx. 13, 24, and 24km.

Hike to Johnson Meadow for resupply

Here, we cross the Silver Divide with its small lakes and jagged peaks. Lots of smaller ups and downs characterize this section and the really big passes are now behind us. The terrain and vegetation changes as we near Mammoth Mountain and we hit our first 'civilization' and road at Red's Meadow. We pick up our resupply here and then we are set to tackle the final section. Daily distances of approx. 14-23km

Hike to Tuolumne

The days are now a lot easier with less elevation change and the miles will pass by easily. We traverse the Thousand Island Lake area that is well known for its serenity and wonderful rock colours. Daily distances of approx. 16km

Hike out and shuttle to Bishop

We top out on our last pass, Donohue Pass, and descend into the broad glacial carved Lyell Canyon. It is now all downhill to our pickup in Tuolumne, followed by our shuttle to Bishop, where our great adventure comes to an end but a lifetime of stories lies ahead.

Additional Information

The John Muir Trail is one of the finest hikes in North America. The route starts at Cottonwood Lakes, makes its way up to the high point of the lower forty-eight states, Mount Whitney (4418m), and continues some two hundred miles to Tuolumne in Yosemite National Park. We will need to carry everything for the trip, so carrying a full pack of around 20kg is usual. Food stocks are re-supplied at a number of stages making our packs lighter, but packing carefully is essential. We'll hike 10-24 km per day and we can expect the unexpected, so solid multi-day backpacking experience is essential. Along the way the trail climbs over 4000m passes, wanders beneath high alpine peaks and traverses beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. 

Over the course of the trip, we will have gained over 12,000m in ascents (averaging about 600m per day). The spectacular scenery is combined with the generally clement weather of California and warm (sometimes very hot) summer temperatures. This is truly a trip of a lifetime to be remembered for years to come. We realize that not everyone has 23 days to spare and so we also have options to complete the trail in segments over consecutive summers, please ask us for details.


*NOTE: Due to the recent popularity of the trail, permit restrictions have increased. In order to successfully secure permits and offer an exceptional experience, we are operating the trip in a northbound direction. To properly acclimatize, the trip is 1-2 days longer than it would be if operating southbound.

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