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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 Hiking Weekend

About the trip

Perched at over 8,000 in elevation, the Tuolumne Region of Yosemite is the perfect place to spend time during the summer months of July-Sept. We’ll spend our days hiking through spectacular areas of Yosemite's “John Muir Trail country”, including the wildflower-strewn meadows, pristine lakes, and glaciated valleys that the area is renowned for. This area of Yosemite is in the Northern part of Park, with wonderful swimming lakes, high-mountain photographic opportunities, and even time for some evening fly fishing in the Tuolumne River is you choose.

Accommodations: 3 nights camping at Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Amenities include restrooms, running water, picnic table, firepits, and a nearby general store.

Equipment: We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (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), applicable permits, 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, alcoholic beverages, 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.


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 a hearty campground breakfast we will set off on a wonderful hike up the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. We will cross the impressive Tuolumne River on the famous John Muir Trail (don't worry there are bridges!) before heading up the flower-filled canyon for views of the mighty Mt Lyell (13,114') and its ancient glaciers. There will be time to swim and enjoy the Tuolumne River’s smooth granite-lined swimming holes while your guide prepares a tasty lunch. Throughout the day the guides will be sharing their knowledge about the local history, flora and fauna. In the evening we return to the camp where dinner and campfire end the day's activities. Expect an 8-10 mile day on easy terrain.

Day 3: Today, we'll turn our sights to high country alpine hiking. Our planned route will hike up the John Muir Trail to the famous Cathedral Lake. Our 7-mile round trip hike has us climbing approximately 1200' in elevation to one of the most scenic lakes in the entire National Park system: Cathedral Lake. We’ll take lunch and an optional swim at the lake, below the awe-inspiring and iconic Cathedral Peak (~11,000'). Bring your camera!

Day 4: After another hearty breakfast prepared by your guide(s) we’ll pack up camp and set off on another hike. There are several options for today and the guide will cater the exact destination to the interests and abilities of the group. Some options are Dog Lake, May Lake, or the top of Lembert Dome to name a few choices. We’ll finish around 2pm on Sunday in time for you to travel to your next destination.

Note: Campgrounds cannot be confirmed until 120 days in advance. Thus, we cannot guarantee departures nor specific campgrounds until these reservations are in-hand and we highly recommend holding off on booking flights, etc until the campgrounds are confirmed. 


*Similar trips include: Yosemite Valley Hiking WeekendAnsel Adams High Sierra Camp

Trip Details

4 Days/3 Nights

Group size
3-12 participants with 1-2 guides

Difficulty Rating
All levels

$895 per person

2020 Trip Dates
July 9-12, 2020
July 23-26, 2020


I am back from Paradise!! It was amaaaaazing, even cool to see the hail and lightening and thunder.

Our guide Scott was an absolute doll. David and I thought he was fabulous. Really took good care of us and taught us a ton.

So, I will be back soon. :)

Thanks for the wonderful trip. I am so glad you do what you do. There is hope for all us city folk. :)

-Patricia Huertas -Tuolumne Meadows Hiking Weekend July, 2015

Thank you for choosing Jerry Anderson as our guide. He toured us through Yosemite in September. His knowledge on local history and his personal experience were awesome. We spent 3 days in Yosemite, then 1 week hiking in Tahoe and Jerry was definitely the highlight of our trip. Please feel free to use us as a reference as needed.

-- Leni Smith, Tuolumme Meadows-Yosemite Hiking Weekend