The John Muir Trail is considered to be the “premier” hiking trail in all of the United States.
While it is not as long as some other trails, such as the American Discovery Trail, which spans the entire continental United States and lasts 6,800 miles, the John Muir Trail is notable for its amazing scenery and natural beauty.
The John Muir Trail runs 215 miles and starts in the amazing Yosemite National Park, which exists because of John Muir’s life work. The trail ends at Mt Whitney, which is the highest mountain peak in the continental United States at a whopping 14,496 ft.
In between, you will visit the Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, and King’s Canyon National Park.
In terms of bang for your buck, the John Muir Trail is one of the most scenic and amazing trails in the United States. And it’s all thanks to John Muir.
Who Was John Muir?
John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist and preservationist who was born in April 21, 1838 and died on Christmas Eve of 1914 at the age of 76. He is called “Father of the National Parks” as well as “John of the Mountains” for his work in preserving areas of wilderness in the United States.
He was particularly fond of the Sierra Nevada, a snowy mountain range that is primarily in California but also reaches into Nevada.
Founder of the Sierra Club, Muir was also an author of many books and essays about nature. He was instrumental in helping make Yosemite a national park.
In addition to the John Muir Trail being named after him, John Muir’s name graces many other parks and institutions, including John Muir College, Muir Glacier, Mount Muir, Camp Muir, and Muir Woods National Monument.
He even has a trail named after him in southern Scotland, John Muir Way, which spans 130 miles.
Preparing for Hiking the John Muir Trail
If you are hiking the John Muir Trail, how much preparation you need depends on how far you plan to go. Of course, you’ll want a John Muir Trail map to help guide you along the way.
1. Decide How Long You Want to Hike
Experienced hikers recommend that you don’t rush the John Muir Trail. Of course, you may have constraints due to work and money, but if you can, plan an entire month to really enjoy all the beautiful, stunning scenery.
Another option is to hike portions of the John Muir Trail in one or two week time blocks, and then after a few summers you will have completed the entire trail.
2. Obtaining the Proper Wilderness Permits
John Muir Trail permits are required to use the trail. The exact permitting requirements depend on the trailhead you wish to use. For example, if you are starting in Yosemite, you will need to get a Yosemite National Park permit.
The good news is that once you have a permit, you can typically use that same permit throughout the trail even in different park areas.
The bad news is that John Muir Trail permits are in high demand during the summer season. You will need to plan way in advance if you want a guarantee of a permit.
For example, to get a Yosemite permit, it is recommended that you reserve as far in advance as possible. If you can, make your reservations 24 weeks in advance because Yosemite is hugely popular in the summer months.
3. Getting Your Gear in Order
Depending on how long you plan to hike the John Muir Trail, you will need to make sure you have the proper clothes and equipment. Of course, you will need a sturdy backpack and good quality hiking boots. Make sure you have broken in your boots before you go on a long hiking trip! You do not want to be dealing with unnecessary blisters while out on the John Muir Trail.
Other items to consider are a tent, bear canisters (for storing food and keeping it away from bears), sleeping bags, and cooking gear.
Make sure you bring enough food to last your journey, or at least up until your resupply point. That is one of the most common mistakes made and it is very preventable.
You Will Love Your Hike Along the John Muir Trail
The John Muir Trail is a hike that every hiker should travel at least once in their lives. If you are new to hiking, you should certainly make the John Muir Trail a priority. Just make sure you plan ahead so you can have a wonderful, memorable trip!