John Muir Trail

John Muir Trail

Infobox Hiking trail
Name=John Muir Trail
Photo=1000 Island Lake Ansel Adams Wilderness.jpg
Caption=View looking west to Thousand Island Lake and Banner Peak in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, along the trail
Location=California, United States
Length=211 mi; 340 km
Start/End Points=Happy Isles trailhead, Yosemite Valley
Whitney Portal
Use=Backpacking, hiking, trail running, trail riding, pack trains
ElevChange= ~15 miles (~24 km)
HighPoint=Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft/4421 m)
LowPoint=Happy Isles trailhead, Yosemite Valley (4035 ft/1230 m)
Difficulty=Moderate to strenuous
Months=July to September
Sights=Yosemite Valley, Devils Postpile, Sierra Nevada
Hazards=Snowmelt, icy slopes early season, altitude

The John Muir Trail (JMT) is a long-distance trail in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, running convert|211|mi|km from the Happy Isles trailhead in Yosemite Valley south to the summit of Mount Whitney on the border of Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest. For about convert|160|mi|km, the trail follows the same footpath as the much longer Pacific Crest Trail. It is named for naturalist John Muir.


The official length of the JMT (as stated by the USGS) is convert|211|mi|km. From its northern terminus in Yosemite Valley, the trail runs northeast to Tuolumne Meadows passing south of Half Dome. From Tuolumne Meadows the trail turns south, running parallel to the main range of the Sierra Nevada, through Yosemite National Park, Inyo and Sierra national forests (including the John Muir and Ansel Adams wilderness areas), Devils Postpile National Monument, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park. From the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail at the summit of Mt. Whitney, an additional convert|11|mi|km|adj=on hike is required to reach the nearest trailhead at Whitney Portal, thus making an end-to-end traverse of the trail effectively convert|222|mi|km.


With the exception of the first convert|9|mi|km at the northern end climbing out of Yosemite Valley, the elevation of the John Muir Trail seldom dips below convert|8000|ft|m. The trail crosses six passes in excess of convert|11000|ft|m; from north to south, they are: Donohue Pass, Muir Pass, Mather Pass, Pinchot Pass, Glen Pass, and Forester Pass (the highest, at convert|13153|ft|m).

When the length of the John Muir Trail was calculated by the USGS, elevation gain and loss was not taken into consideration. It is estimated that, when hiking north to south, the amount of ascent of the JMT is just over convert|46000|ft|m and the total descent is just over convert|38000|ft|m, for a total of about convert|84000|ft|m, or almost convert|16|mi|km; however, this does not mean the total length is increased by convert|16|mi|km.


Construction of the JMT began a year after Muir's death in 1915 with a $10,000 grant from the California legislature, and was completed in 1938 with the construction of the "Golden Staircase" section of the trail northwest of Mather Pass.


The primary hiking season is usually from July through September, though snow may linger on the higher passes well into August following heavy snow years. Early season hikers -- including Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers headed north for Canada -- have to contend not only with the snowpack and icy slopes near the passes, but with streams swollen with snowmelt. Trail conditions are less demanding later in the season after the snowmelt concludes, and the weather generally remains pleasant for hiking through September.

Weather during the hiking season is generally sunny and dry, but afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon. The trail is used primarily by backpackers and dayhikers, but also by runners, trail riders, and pack trains. Backpackers travelling at a generous pace usually complete the trail within three weeks.

A permit is required to hike the JMT, which is obtained from the national park or forest where the hiker begins the hike. This single permit is valid for the entire hike. Most JMT thru-hikers find it easier to obtain a permit at the Yosemite end, as those seeking to begin their hike at the southern trailhead at Whitney Portal must compete for permits with dayhikers climbing Mt. Whitney. Backpackers entering the Sierra backcountry on multi-day trips are generally required to carry their food in approved hard-sided storage containers known as bear canisters to protect their food and other scented items from theft by black bears, which are common in the region.

The JMT is traditionally hiked north to south, from Yosemite Valley to Mt. Whitney. There are advantages to starting in Yosemite Valley and hiking south. Although there is a significant net altitude gain this way, starting at a lower altitude allows the hiker time to acclimate to the elevations of the trail rather than immediately having to tackle a 6,000-foot (1,800-meter) climb to the summit of Mt. Whitney. In addition, there are several resupply points convenient to the JMT during its northern half (Tuolumne Meadows, Reds Meadow, Vermillion Valley Ranch, Muir Trail Ranch), allowing the hiker to carry a lighter food load early in the hike and also to exit the trail easily if problems arise. The southern half of the JMT is more remote and generally higher in elevation, thus making it more appropriate for the second half of the hike when maximum conditioning has been attained.

peed record

The speed record for fastpacking the John Muir Trail without resupply (as of 2007) is held by Michael Popov, who completed the trail in 4 days, 5 hours, and 25 minutes. [cite news|url=|title=Feet fail hiker on record run|publisher=Fresno Bee|last=Warszawski|first=Marek|date=2007-08-08] Popov carried all of his equipment and received no outside assistance.

On August 26 2007 Sue Johnston arrived at Happy Isles trailhead in Yosemite Valley, having run from Whitney Portal in 3 days, 20 hours. Total distance 218 miles. []

ee also

*Ecology of the Sierra Nevada
*Long-distance trails in the United States
*Sierra High Route
*Sierra Nevada
*John Muir Wilderness
*Yosemite National Park
*Kings Canyon National Park
*Sequoia National Park
*Mount Whitney
*Ansel Adams Wilderness


* "The John Muir Trail", Alan Castle. Cicerone 2003 ISBN 978 1 85284 396 0


* Wenk, Elizabeth, with Morey, Kathy "The John Muir Trail: The essential guide to hiking America's most favorite trail" (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 2007) ISBN 0-89997-436-8
* Castle, Alan "The John Muir Trail" (Milnthorpe: Cicerone, 2004) ISBN 1-85284-396-9
* Starr, Walter A. Jr. "Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail and the High Sierra Region" (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books) ISBN 0-87156-172-7

External links

* [ Elevation profile for the JMT with high resolution available]
* [ Information about hiking the John Muir Trail]
* [ John Muir Trail planning info and general long distance hiking tips]
* [ Panoramic photos taken along the JMT]
* [ Journals of many JMT hikes]
* [ Story about an unsuccessful unsupported JMT thru-run]
* [ Set of free JMT trail topo maps]
* [ A personal account of a JMT thru-hike completed in September 2007]
* [ Photos of landscapes taken along JMT] , August 2008

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