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John Muir Trail

The famous John Muir Trail is a long distance walk which runs from the Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. For somebody planning to visit California and looking for something really unique and active to do whilst there, the John Muir Trail is a super option. Here we will cover the background and the geography of the trail, and also some basic facts about actually walking the trail.

It is named after the naturalist John Muir who lived from 1838 to 1914 and who helped to preserve the wilderness of the United States. He wrote letters, essays and books about his various adventures in the wilderness, especially in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Muir was actually born in Scotland, though in 1849 his family emigrated to the U.S.A. The John Muir Trail is just one of many things named in his honor, others being another Muir Trail in Tennessee, Mount Muir, Muir’s Peak and Muir Woods.

The trail was created using money from a $10,000 grant in 1915, one year after Muir’s death. It makes up part of the longer Pacific Crest Trail and in itself consists of approximately 240 miles of wilderness, running from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney. Those adventurous and energetic enough to take this route will walk through Tuolomne Meadows, Lyell Canyon, Donohue Pass, the middle fork of the San Joaquin River, Shadow Lake, Devil’s Postpile, Ritter Range, Goddard Canyon, Muir Pass, and Sequoia National Park.

Most hikers choose to do the trail from July through to September because in this period there is less likelihood of snow except on the higher passes. If you choose to go much earlier or much later, you will have to be well decked out with clothes and specific equipment for cold weather hiking. Between July and September the weather is normally dry and warm, though thunderstorms make occur in the afternoons so excellent raingear is a must. To hike the trail, you will need a permit which can be obtained from whichever national park or forest you begin from. The permit is valid for the entire trail and most find that the permit is easier to get at the Yosemite Valley end.