Hiking the John Muir Trail


The beautiful color exhibited on the mountains above is a phenomenon called alpenglow. When conditions are just right, you might see it at sunset as snow, ice or other moisture catches the scattered red light from the setting Sun. Alpenglow can vary in color from a pale yellow, to a gaudy pink or a deep red. You certainly won't see it every night, but when you do, it's a real treat.

What's in this Site?

You'll find good basic info on hiking the JMT, but it's only a starting point. Others explain the specifics more completely, and there are links to those websites.

Site Navigation

This site is arranged in a linear fashion. To go from page to page, use the "Next" and "Previous" links at the bottom of the page. To go from one major topic to the next, use the drop down menu on the banner or the links at the bottom of each page. For additional site information, click
Site-Help in the bottom menu. Most links are set to open in a new tab or window, but you can also right-click the link to control this behavior according to your preferences.

About the Hikers

There's info scattered throughout the site about the hikers involved in one specific JMT trek. To find out more about them see our About page.

The John Muir Trail is one of the most scenic trails in the U.S. It traverses over 200 miles of remote, pristine wilderness in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Each year hundreds of people hike parts, or all of it, and leave with memories to last a lifetime. This site is a brief how-to for anyone thinking about hiking the JMT. You’ll find information about permits and other useful links, as well as helpful backpacking and camping tips. Even experienced thru-hikers will enjoy the photo section which has a growing gallery of trail pictures. There is a topo map insert showing where the photos were taken, and you can even take a virtual hike using Google Earth (right-click to save this link and open it in Google Earth).

Le Conte Canyon—just one of the beautiful places you'll visit along the JMT

Who can go?

All sorts of people of every age make this hike. Determination and good planning are great enablers! While the JMT is not without difficulty, most hikers we saw were having a wonderful experience. We did see a few who were struggling though, mostly through poor planning.

Picking partners

People with different capabilities, and experience levels can hike together successfully—as long as everyone in the group is comfortable with this. A common scenario is that two or three friends talk about it and decide to go, but after a few weeks on the trail, friendships can fray. Even if you are friends, it's helpful to make a few shake-out hikes before tackling the JMT.

What's the plan?

There's no substitute for careful planning. Doing the JMT by the seat of your pants doesn't work well. If you really want to have a good time and finish the hike, plan well! Go over everything carefully with your hiking partners. Start planning early! Allow enough time to deal with weather, “zero” days and unexpected problems. Test your plans and gear with a few shake-out hikes. More on this later. You must make a serious mental commitment to be successful on a thru-hike like the JMT. After the first few days, when you are tired, sore, have aching feet and other body parts, it is very daunting to consider that most of your 200 miles is still ahead of you! Decide whether you really want to make the hike before you start, and plan it carefully. Then when obstacles pop up, you'll be in a better position to overcome them.

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