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Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.

These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.

Moderate- Basecamps
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.

John Muir Trail: Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows

About the trip


The John Muir Trail is one of the most famous trails in the world and this section through “postcard country” is considered one of the most beautiful of all. We’ll travel past Thousand Island Lake, below the glaciated peaks of Mts Ritter, Banner, and Lyell, and into Yosemite National Park via the 11,000’ Donahue Pass. You’ll just carry your water and camera each day while the mules carry all the gear!

Accomodations: First night’s camping in Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Three nights remote tent camping.

Equipment: We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, ground pads, trekking poles, and tents) upon request with no additional fee. You are welcome to bring your own personal camping equipment if you prefer. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.

Meals: We provide meals starting with dinner on day one through breakfast and trail snacks the last day. Our "Backcountry Gourmet" meals have been acclaimed in Sunset Magazine. We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.

Your Cost Includes: Meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as listed above), accommodations (as noted above), transportation from Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadows trailhead on Day 2, applicable permits, pack stock support throughout trip, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.

Not Included: Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, meals while in the front country, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), transportation, and optional trip cancellation insurance.

Preparation: Training is paramount to the enjoyment and success of your trip. We recommend exercising in the months prior to your trip to bolster sustained cardiovascular/aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength. Day hikes with a full backpack, preferably on hilly, off road terrain, is the best way to train for our trips. Activities such as cycling and step-master type machines are also excellent and preferable to a routine comprised solely of running.

About the Packstock: Mules will be carrying all of our equipment and your personal gear each day. We won't be hiking with the mules and perhaps not even camping with them. You will need to pack your personal belongings efficiently into one mid-sized compression sack or duffel as outlined in our pre-trip materials. You are welcome to pack anything extra in your daypack.

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Meet at the Tuolumne Campground (8580’) at 5pm for orientation and gear check (please arrive no earlier than 4:30pm. Site numbers are issued upon check-in. The guides will post a sign with your name and site number on the entrance kiosk booth). After a short trip orientation, your guides will prepare a hearty dinner and campfire.

Day 2: After breakfast we’ll move our vehicles from the campground to long-term parking (across the street) and will hand off our gear to the muleskinners. We’ll take our own private shuttle to the trailhead via the improbable Tioga Pass Road. We’ll begin our hike mid-morning from Agnew Meadows into the John Muir Wilderness and our camp at the beautiful Clark Lakes, 7 miles.

Day 3: This morning we’ll quickly connect with the JMT at the aptly named and wildly scenic Thousand Island Lake. We then continue on to the Marie Lakes area through some of the most picturesque sub-alpine Muir Trail country in the shadow of Mt Banner (12,936) and the Kuna Crest (12,000+’). 8 miles

Day 4: This morning’s objective is Donahue Pass, which marks the entrance to Yosemite. We’ll then travel under the Lyell Glacier, dropping several thousand feet into picturesque Lyell Canyon. We’ll make our final night’s camp alongside the meandering Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River beneath the Kuna Crest. 10 miles.

Day 5: After packing up camp one final time, we’ll out to the granite-dome filled Tuolumne Meadows through Lyell Canyon 8 miles. We’ll meet the mule team to pick up our gear in time for you to grab lunch at the Tuolumne Grill, Tioga Pass Resort, or the Whoa Nelly Deli.


*Similar trips include: Yosemite Grand Traverse Horsepack, Mt. Whitney HorsepackAnsel Adams High Sierra Camp

Trip Details

5 Days/4 Nights

Group size
4-12 participants with 1-2 mountain guides

Difficulty Rating

$1,895 per person (10-12 registered participants)
$2,095 per person (4-9 registered participants)

2019 Trip Dates
August 6-10, 2019 (3 spots remaining)
August 14-18, 2019
Custom dates & pricing available!

2020 Trip Dates
July 14-18, 2020
August 4-5, 2020
Custom dates & pricing available!


SYMG provided a trip that was even more spectacular than we ever could have imagined! The beauty we witnessed, time we shared, and memories we made as a family were beyond our wildest dreams, and will stay with us forever. We would do it again in a heartbeat, and will enthusiastically recommend SYMG's trip to our friends and family. To everyone at SYMG, thank you for giving our family such an incredible experience! You are AWESOME!!!

-Jennifer New - 2014

What was good for me, coming from overseas, was: first, it was all planned and organized for me (including, I gather, the labyrinthine maze of bookings and permits), and second, knowledge of the area meant it was such a well planned route (eg. it was much easier to go over Donahue Pass the direction we went, no day was too difficult - though the hike was definitely challenging - and camp sites were all perfect.) For someone who's never been in the area, I think I got to walk one of the best parts.

-Caroline from Australia

Ian / Colby-A belated note from me and all the crew to say thanks for organizing and guiding a great trip on the JMT. Please pass on our huge thanks as well to Drew and Chris (and Lindsay in support) - we thoroughly enjoyed their company as well as their expertise.

We all have many, many highlights and great memories from our ten days. Personally friends I've spoken with about the trip want to get over there and do it too. The good news is that we'll probably be back for the other half of the JMT soon, no joke!

Thanks again to all you guys, have a safe rest of the summer trekking and we'll be back in touch someday. Cheers

-- Henry Talbot Pvt JMT Northbound. Aug, 2013