The John Muir Trail (JMT)
It’s a short one, but California’s John Muir Trail (JMT) is arguably the most scenic trail in the United States. Named after environmentalist and founder of the Sierra Nevada Club, John Muir, this marvel of a footpath winds it’s way through more than 200 miles of Sierra Nevada’s granite domes, pristine valleys, and towering canyon walls. Traversing the JMTl is a surreal experience that leaves even the most experienced backcountry travelers in awe.
- 211 miles (340km)
- Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney–the highest point in the contiguous United States (14,505′)
- 2 Wilderness areas (John Muir and Ansel Adams)
- 3 National Parks (Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia)
- 7 mountain passes in excess of 11,000′
- Southbound elevation gain: 46,700′
- Average elevation: 11,000′
- When to hike: July-September
- Coincides with the Pacific Crest Trail for 160-ish miles
- Completed in 1938–the 100 year anniversary of John Muir’s birth
- The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) protects, collects donations, and organizes volunteer efforts for the JMT. They have a ton of useful information on their website.
- The National Park Service requires backcountry travelers to store food and scented items in a bear canister for all 211 miles of the JMT. There are a number or allowable canisters, which vary in weight, size, and cost. Some companies will let you rent a storage unit.