THE JOHN MUIR TRAIL

23 days departing MAMMOTH LAKES from

Style: Walking
Destination: USA West
Tour Code: JM6

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Trip Overview

One of the finest hikes in North America, the John Muir Trail won't disappoint. Hike your way from south to north, cross through three national parks, follow the rugged spine of California's High Sierra and hike the highest peak in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney. Climb over 13,000ft passes, wander beneath high alpine peaks, and traverse beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. The spectacular scenery is combined with the clement weather of California and warm summer temperatures. For all participants this will be a trip of a lifetime and one to be remembered for years to come.

Included Highlights
  • One of the most famous hikes in America offering challenging and strenuous back-country hiking
  • Climb to the summit of the highest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney
  • Traverse 13,000ft passes through California's stunning mountain country
  • Wander beneath high alpine peaks, hike beautiful meadows and forested river valleys
  • Professional certified mountain guides with wilderness first aid certification
  • 22 breakfasts, 22 lunches and 22 dinners
  • Trailhead shuttle at both ends of the trip
  • Porter or mule supported supply drops during the trip
  • All necessary hiking permits
Guaranteed departures

All departures of this tour are guaranteed, so once you've booked you can be sure you're going! This guarantee gives you the confidence to book all of your travel arrangements and simply look forward to your holiday.

Tour Facts and Features
Accommodation: 22 nights camping with equipment (except sleeping bag and camping mattress)
Transport: Private vehicle (although this is primarily backcountry hiking).
Meals: 22 breakfasts, 22 lunches and 22 dinners
Guided: Professional certified mountain guides with wilderness first aid certification (one guide per five participants)
Group size: Maximum 10
Age range: 18+

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Trip Itinerary

Our routes have been carefully chosen to include the best night stops and highlights. However, as local and operational conditions may vary and unforeseen circumstances can arise, the following itinerary should be used as a guideline.


Download Trip Dossier

Download the The John Muir Trail trip dossier for tour-specific details including full itinerary, pre-departure information, packing tips and more about our style of travel.

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Optional Activities (paid locally)

Our optional activities offer the flexibility to do the things you want to and leave out the things you don't. Below are the main optional activities for this trip which can be arranged once you are on tour via your tour leader and paid for locally. Please note that not all optional activities may available on every tour and prices are subject to change.

  • There are no optional activities available for this tour.


Trip Departure Time

As this tour departs early morning on day one we recommend that you book pre-tour accommodation. The tour departs from the Mammoth Lakes area and you will be collected from the hotel of your choice in this area. The closest airport is Mammoth Yosemite Airport.

On the trail:

This trip is a backcountry tour and you're responsible for carrying your own luggage as well as a share of the camping equipment and food (there are no support mules except for supply drops). You should not be carrying more than 20kg luggage however, you should be prepared to carry your own luggage also. High quality meals are provided on this trip and are included the entire time you are on the trails, as well a few creature comforts of home including a comfortable chair, a slice of luxury after a wonderful day on the trails.

You should expect to cover eight to 15 miles a day as well as having some layover days to simply relax, sit by the stream, fish or, if you are feeling energetic, to climb a peak.

Itinerary

Below are very tentative itineraries for the 23 days you're on the trail. There are a number of things which can change this schedule such as weather, minor injury, tired mules or just the desire for a rest day. For this reason, the actual camps are certain to vary. The below itinerary is designed to provide you with a general outline of the route. Please be flexible and adapt to inevitable changes which can occur.

Section One: Cottonwood to Big Pete Meadow - 96 Miles

This segment includes several high passes and stays close to the Sierra Crest. After climbing Mt. Whitney, you travel through the wide open alpine valley of Upper Basin and the trail passes below the fourteen thousand foot peaks of the Palisade region. The passes here are high and steep, but the effort is more than compensated by the incredible scenery.

We meet in Bishop at the headquarters for a gear check, shuttle to the Horseshoe Meadows Campground, have dinner and an early bed, starting the process of getting the body adapted to the thin air of 10,000 feet.

To further aid in our acclimatization Day 1 is a short day, but after this we steadily pick up the pace to Crabtree Meadows and from here climb to the 14,505-foot summit of Mount Whitney. Returning to camp we head north, pick up a resupply coming in over Kearsarge Pass, and then after numerous high passes drop into the deeply incised cleft of Le Conte Canyon. Here we get a resupply brought in by packstock.

Day One: Meet in Bishop, do a gear check and shuttle to Horseshoe Meadows.
Day Eight: Arrive at Bullfrog Lake with a resupply coming in over Kearsarge Pass.
Day Thirteen: Arrive in Le Conte Canyon and a resupply.

Section Two: Big Pete Meadow to Reds Meadow - 77 Miles

This section takes you into the heart of the mountains. From Le Conte Canyon, we cross Muir Pass and enter the stunningly beautiful high alpine area of Evolution Valley. We drop in the San Joaquin River drainage, staying well to the west of the main Sierra Crest, pass Lake Thomas Edison before climbing up onto the Silver Divide. We briefly touch an outpost of `civilization' at Reds Meadow, where our next resupply arrives along with lunch. Those doing Section two only leave from Reds Meadow via vehicle.

Day Thirteen: Pick up our resupply and head north to Little Pete Meadow.
Day Sixteen: A short side trip to Muir Ranch to pick up a resupply.
Day Twenty: Arrive at Reds Meadow north of Mammoth. Here we pick up our re-supply, and head north.

Section Three: Reds Meadow to Tuolumne - 34 Miles


For many people, this is the most beautiful section of the trip and now, being trail hardened and carrying lighter packs, finish the final section quickly and efficiently. After leaving Reds Meadow we camp at Johnston Meadow. We skirt the beautiful Garnet and well named Thousand Island Lakes before dropping into Rush Creek and then cross Donohue Pass, our last one. Lyell Canyon is long but nearly flat, and ending at Tuolumne Meadows, you'll get a well-deserved rest.

Day Twenty: Leave Reds Meadow and camp at Johnston Meadow.
Day Twenty-Three: Arrive Tuolumne Meadows.

Logistics

This is a long trip and for many it may be the longest backcountry trip you have ever done. Your guide is qualified and trained in wilderness first aid and carries a radio or cell phone for emergency communications. Please note this is not for personal use or calling home.

You should have good physical fitness for this trip and although you do not need to be marathon fit, you should be prepared to walk for eight to 15 miles per day. Some days are long, some are shorter and on some you'll stay at camp to recuperate. The most important thing is endurance and the ability to deal with whatever happens. Please contact us for details if you have specific questions.

Backcountry Conditions

This trip operates from late August to early September in order to hike during the most opportune weather conditions. Days, while getting shorter, should be warm with day temperatures in the 15C / 60F region. At night temperatures can dip to 0C / 32F , although this is rare and only at the higher elevation. There should be minimal biting insects and bugs. There'll be small snow patches on the highest passes, but not enough to warrant ice axe and crampon use. Stream flows will be well below peak flow and most should be easy to cross. There's the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms that may be heavy for a short time. You'll be in the high mountains so there's always the chance of snow, but prolonged storms are not common at this time of year.

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No credit card fees
  • A 10% deposit per person is required to confirm your booking.
  • Full payment is due 8 weeks before the tour departure
  • We charge no credit card fees or hidden surcharges
  • ABTA & ATOL licensed operator offering financial security for our tours
  • Prices are land only. Call 0333 999 7965 for a flight inclusive quote (UK)

Important Notes

We highly recommend you book this trip at least 60 days prior to departure. Reservations received within 30 days will be on request and subject to availability of en-route accommodation.


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Private Departures

Why not arrange your own Grand American Adventures departure? For groups of 8 or more, we can offer tailor-made private departures for any of our published tours enabling friends, families or organizations to enjoy our style of travel at special rates. Tailored itineraries and departure dates can be chosen to suit your needs. (Subject to seasonal/operational restrictions).

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Tour Extras

We've offer a whole range of travel extras with everything from city sightseeing, additional hotel nights, insurance and more so you can organise everything you'll need for your trip in one easy place

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Travel Insurance

At Grand American Adventures we believe that your safety and enjoyment are the most important parts of your holiday.

Travel Insurance

We recommend you take out insurance as soon as your booking is confirmed. You MUST be covered by insurance that includes adequate coverage for baggage, medical expenses and the cost of repatriation. We can offer you a comprehensive travel insurance policy which is completely tailored for your trip and is specially designed to include all the activities listed.

See our insurance page for more information.


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