For your next hiking adventure, make sure you have John Muir Trail permits and start your trip off right.
The John Muir Trail, which starts in the famed Yosemite National Park, is one of the best hiking trails in the United State, if not the world.
The unfortunate downside to the amazing beauty you will find along the John Muir Trail is that it is, of course, very, very popular.
For this reason, you can’t just dash out the door with a backpack and some hiking boots and hope to traverse the trail without a care in the world. Well, you can try, but if you attempt this during peak season, you may not be able to get a spot.
National parks, especially Yosemite, are that popular!
To best increase your chances of hiking the John Muir trail, your best bet is to get John Muir Trail permits in advance.
You will need Yosemite John Muir Trail permits to launch your hike – that is, if you are starting in Yosemite, of course. The 215 mile John Muir wilderness trail passes through many locations, including the Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, and King’s Canyon National Park, and ends at Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain peak in the entire continental United States.
If you don’t plan on starting in Yosemite, then you’ll need a permit for one of those other wilderness areas.
How Yosemite Permits Work
The Yosemite wilderness permit is actually a good deal, and that’s because the permit is 100 percent free. The reservation, however will cost $5 plus $5 for each person. That $5 is non-refundable, but you should consider that it is going to a good cause – keeping Yosemite National Park in good condition.
Why do you need a reservation to get a permit? During the peak times of the year, Yosemite National Park limits the number of people who start at each trailhead. This is to reduce negative impact to the environment and alleviate overcrowding.
During the winter months, from November through April, you do not need to get a reservation to get a permit. You still need a Yosemite wilderness permit, but you can get one on a “self-registration” basis at any permit-issuing station.
During the peak season from May through October, permits are in high demand. This is why you should plan on reserving a permit as much in advance as possible. Seasoned hikers suggest you take the full time available and mark your calendar a full 24 weeks in advance of your planned trip. Yes, that’s a whopping 168 days, or almost half a year.
You can’t reserve a permit the day before or the day of your hike. By that time, all the reservations will be taken up anyway, so it’s really a moot point.
The good news is, once you have your Yosemite John Muir Trail permits, you will not need to get new permits for each of the other parks you are entering. Just make sure you have the correct exit date for your exit trailhead.
You should plan your trip in advance, so you know exactly where you are going to exit and when.
Getting Permits for Other John Muir Trail Areas
If you aren’t starting in Yosemite, you will still need John Muir Trail permits. Each location has its own permitting agency, so you should check with the appropriate agency to obtain your permit.
For example, for the Inyo National Forest, Mt. Whitney permits are required all year round. Additionally, group size is limited to 15 people or less. This is to help retain the tranquil nature of the backcountry and protect the environment.
Most of the Mt. Whitney trails can be reserved six months in advance up until two days before a hiking trip if they are available. For the most popular Mt. Whitney permits, however, you have to enter a lottery and have no guarantee of getting the permit.
You can attempt to get a walk-in permit the day before the entry date, but this must be done in person and cannot be done on the telephone or online. However, 40 percent of the quota space is available for walk-ins, so if you live in the area, you may have a good chance of getting in.
Plan Ahead for your John Muir Trail Permits
The John Muir Trail is one of the most amazing trails you will ever be privilege to hike on. It is absolutely worth the advance planning it takes to get the proper permits. Do yourself and your friends a favor and make sure you reserve your John Muir Trail permits far in advance. That way, you can have an amazing trip.