Backpacking

John Muir Trail

Activity Level
Strenuous
Trip Length
23 days
Group Size
up to 13 guests
Backpacking

John Muir Trail

$5595

Itinerary
Select Dates
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Haley Woods
Haley Woods

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(800) 231-4575
Explore world-class scenery of the High Sierra
Traverse 3 national parks & summit Mt. Whitney
Experience stunning alpine landscapes

The John Muir Trail is one of the most classic backpacking trails in the world. Our 23-day backpack is a wilderness experience like none other, navigating the rugged spine of California’s High Sierra. Join us as we climb 8 high-mountain passes, traverse 3 national parks and attempt the summit of Mt Whitney (14,500’), the highest point in the contiguous US. Expert guides, seamless logistics and world-class scenery make the John Muir Trail the “trip of a lifetime”.

2020 Trip Dates

July 4 - 26, 2020
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August 1 - 23, 2020
1 spot remaining
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2021 Trip Dates

July 31 - August 22, 2021
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Early July dates based on demand

Pricing

$5595 per person
Price based on shared hotel occupancy


Single Room Supplement:
Requested $150, Forced $75

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Trip Itinerary

Day 1-Meet Your Guides in Tuolumne Meadows

Meet at the Tuolumne Campground in Yosemite National Park (8580’) at 5:00pm. We’ll have a brief orientation with the group, followed by a welcome dinner prepared by your guides and a final gear check before we start hiking tomorrow. If you would like a ride to Tuolumne, we provide a private shuttle pick up in Fresno, CA that will drop you off in Tuolumne. Details will be sent to you upon registration.

Day 2-4-Hike Beneath Ritter Range to Reds Meadow

Today we hit the trail! After crossing Rafferty Creek we turn south and enter the dramatic canyon of the Lyell Fork. With views of glaciated Mt. Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park, we climb up and over Donahue Pass (11,056'). The trail then passes beneath Mt. Ritter, Mt. Banner, and Devil's Postpile on our way to Reds Meadow where cold beverages and a resupply drop await us. (35 miles)

See notes below about permitting and trailhead starts

Day 5-7-Climb Silver Pass to Vermillion Valley Resort at Edison Lake

In this section we will pass by the volcanic Red Cones, lovely Virginia lake and down into Tully Hole. After climbing over Silver Pass (10,900'), we will reach Edison Lake and the Vermillion Valley Resort, where we will spend the night, enjoy hot showers, and pick up our second resupply. (30.7 miles)

Day 8-12-Explore Evolution Canyon and descend to LeConte Canyon

Leaving Edison Lake, we make the steep climb over Bear Ridge, pass by the wildflower-strewn RoseMarie Meadow, and then to the top of Pass (10,900'). From there, we descend to the roaring South Fork of the San Joaquin River. A bridge over Piute Creek and a few switchbacks lead us to McClure Meadow and Evolution Lake, one of the most spectacular sections of the trail. We then climb over Muir Pass (11,955') and descend deep into LeConte Canyon for another resupply drop. (48 miles)

Day 13-17- Conquer Mather, Pinchot, & Glen Pass, reach Vidette Meadow

Our next milestone is ascending the Golden Staircase to our high camp at Palisade Lake. We then trek over Mather Pass (12,100') before dropping once again, this time to the South Fork of the Kings River. From there we climb over Pinchot Pass (12,130') and drop down to Woods Creek, which we’ll cross via a grand suspension bridge. We pass by Rae Lakes, Fin Dome, and The Painted Lady before climbing over Glen Pass (11,978'). We will have our final resupply drop at Vidette Meadow below Forester Pass. (49 miles)

Day 18-21-Forester Pass to Mt. Whitney Summit

Our final section of trail is just as spectacular as the rest. We begin by crossing the superlative Forester Pass (13,200), the highest pass on the trail and the entrance to Sequoia National Park. From there we’ll make our way directly to Mt Whitney, which steadily grows taller as we approach it. The culmination of our trip is an attempt at Mt. Whitney (14,495') the highest peak in the Continental U.S. After the peak, we’ll make our way to our comfortable camp at Crabtree Meadow. After connecting with the Pacific Crest Trail we’ll reach our camp along Rock Creek in the shadow of the Major General. (43.5 miles)

Today we’ll rise early for our final stretch of trail among the picturesque Foxtail Pines. We’ll exit the high country via Cottonwood Pass in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Our private shuttle will meet us at the trailhead to bring us into the desert town of Lone Pine. A well-earned hot shower will be followed by a farewell dinner together. (9.8 miles)

On our final day we will take our private shuttle back to the Fresno airport. (approx. a 5 hour drive). Don't plan a flight before 3:00 PM.

What's Included

Accommodations

  • 1st night's stay at Tuolumne Meadows Campground
  • 22 nights of wilderness tent camping (permits included)
  • Last night's lodging at Best Western Frontier Hotel Lone Pine

Gear

  • All group gear including stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.
  • Personal backpacking gear provided by request: backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, trekking poles, and tents

Transportation

  • Day 1 private shuttle from Fresno to Tuolumne Meadows Campground
  • Day 9 Ferry across Edison Lake
  • Day 22-23 private shuttle from remote trailhead to hotel and back to Fresno

Food

  • Starting with dinner on Day 1 and ending with breakfast on Day 23*
  • Backcountry gourmet meals including trail snacks
  • Hot tea or coffee served each morning
  • 4 remote food resupplies


A Few More Notes

Travel & Logistics

Your trip begins at Tuolumne Meadows Campground in Yosemite National Park. There are a couple of options to get there:

Option 1: We provide a private shuttle from Fresno to Tuolumne Meadows on Day 1, which can pick you up at the Fresno Yosemite Int'l Airport or nearby hotels. If you plan to use our shuttle, consider staying in Fresno the evening before your trip at our preferred hotel

Option 2:  Coordinate your own transportation to Tuolumne Meadows on the first day. Just keep in mind that we will not be returning there at the end of the trip, so plan accordingly.

Any additional luggage you have will be stored at our secure facility and returned to you for your final night in Lone Pine. We'll provide your transportation back to Fresno on the last day of the trip, we recommend booking flights no earlier than 3pm on this day.

Permits

Due to increasingly competitve permitting for the JMT, actual permit location starts can vary and you will be notified before the trip of any changes. One common alternate joins with the JMT just south of Donahue Pass. This does not add any additional costs to the trip, and the logistics on Day 1 stay the same (meeting in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite). The timing of the trip stays the same as well and doesn’t affect the overall nature of the 23-day expedition.

Training & Preparation

The JMT is our most difficult trip, traveling long distances over high mountain passes with uneven terrain for 21 trail days carrying a fully weighted pack (30-35 lbs). Not only do we want you to complete the trail with us, but we want you to have fun doing it! On the JMT, it’s not a question of whether you can climb a high mountain pass, but if you can get up the next morning and climb another... and then another... which is why training for this trip is so important. In addition, long sustained periods in a remote wilderness setting requires a unique mental toughness.

We recommend a rigorous training plan in the months leading up to your trip, focusing on:

    • Endurance, cardio, and aerobic activities
    • Core and leg strength (don't forget those abs and quads)!
    • Day hikes and overnight trips (5-7 days) with a weighted pack (30-35lbs) to train for both the physical and mental aspects of backpacking
    • Cycling, running, step-master or stairs are great cross-training
    • Include hilly terrain and steep climbs whenever possible

Looking for more tips? Check out our blog here!

Prior Experience

We strongly encourage having recent backpacking experience before embarking on the John Muir Trail with us. The most successful people have completed several backcountry trips carrying a fully weighted pack (35-40lbs) for at least 5 days. If you do not have this experience, we recommend joining us on a "shake-out" trip prior to your JMT trip.

Resupplies

To help keep pack weight down as much as possible, we schedule four food resupplies throughout the trip. The first two resupplies on Day 4 (Reds Meadow) and Day 7 (Vermillion Valley Resort) are front country resupplies where there are bathrooms, showers, food, payphones, etc available. The final two resupplies on Day 13 (LeConte Canyon) and Day 17 (Vidette Meadow) are remote resupplies brought in by pack mules. You are welcome to pack certain items for yourself to be included in the resupplies. More details about the resupplies and what to pack will be sent to you upon registration.

What's Not Included
  • Personal clothing & footwear
  • Meals at Vermillion Valley Resort and last night's celebratory dinner in Lone Pine
  • Recommended 10%-20% gratuity for guides
  • Trip Insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Airfare
  • Evacuations

Trip Reviews

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