The John Muir Trail is one of the finest hikes to be found anywhere in the world. The route starts in at Mt Whitney and winds its way over two hundred miles to Yosemite Valley. Along the way it climbs over 13,000′ passes, wanders beneath high alpine peaks, and traverses beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. The spectacular scenery is combined with the generally clement weather of California and warm summer temperatures. For all participants this will be a trip of a lifetime, one to be remembered for years to come.
But perhaps you think that the only way to go is with a heavy backpack meaning sore feet, tired muscles and no time for the scenery. Or maybe you are thinking that your hiking days are over and a long trip is not possible for your tired bones.

This is why we work with Rock Creek Pack Station to offer pack-supported trips where you simply shoulder a light daypack and leave the hard work to our four-hooved friends.

We offer high quality meals, a relaxed pace and if not all the comforts of home a few of those things that make all of the difference at end of the day such as a chair to sit in rather than a chunk of granite to lean against.
Think of these trips as not just “doing” the John Muir Trail but as a stress-free relaxing sojourn amongst some of the finest mountains in the world.


The big question everyone asks is “how much will I have to carry?” And the answer is – not much. A day pack, water, extra clothing etc. It should be less than 10 pounds.

These are long trips and for many people may be the longest backcountry trip they have ever done. Because of the length there is always the potential for things to go wrong and the unexpected to occur. Your guide will be trained in wilderness first aid and will carry a radio or cell phone for emergency communications. (No, not for personal use and calling home!). Family and friends can contact you through our office, but because of the problems of communication in the backcountry the delay can be substantial.

You need to be in good shape for the trip. This does not mean being a super fit marathoner though. Some days are long; some are short and some we do not move camp at all. But you need to be prepared for up to twelve miles a day with a light daypack, although these will be not the norm. 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

We do this trip from late August to early September to get what we consider to be the best conditions. Most biting insects and bugs should be gone. Days, while getting shorter should be warm with day temperatures in the 60-degree region and nights dipping to about 32 degrees rarely and only at the higher elevation. There may 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 is the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms that may be heavy for a short time. You will be in the high mountains so there is always the chance of snow, but prolonged storms are not common at this time of year.


Our good friend John Dittli has just published a book on the John Muir Trail. A collection of John’s photos, history and recollections from many hikes. You can also view John’s JMT slideshow (Youtube).

Return to Sierra Backpacking & Hiking


A normal backpacking John Muir Trail takes over twenty days and not everyone has the ability to a prolonged time off work we have divide the trip annual segments. This enables you to plan ahead, take your time and truly enjoy the experience.

You can expect to cover 6 to twelve miles a day and then we build in layover days to simply relax, sit by the stream, fish or, if you are feeling energetic, to climb a peak.

Below are very tentative day-by-day itineraries. There are a lot of things that can change this schedule such as weather, minor injury, tired mules or just the desire for a rest day so the actual camps are certain to vary but they give you a general outline of the route.

So be flexible and adapt to the inevitable changes that will occur.

Section One: Cottonwood to Onion Valley

Nine Days, Fifty Miles

Day 1 — Cottonwood to Chicken Springs Lake
Day 2 — Chicken Springs Lake to Rock Creek
Day 3 — Rock Creek to Crabtree
Day 4 — Crabtree to Guitar Lake
Day 5 — Climb Mt Whitney and descend to Crabtree
Day 6 — Crabtree to Tyndall Creek
Day 7 — Layover day
Day 8 — Tyndall Creek to Upper Bubbs Creek
Day 9 — Bubbs Creek to Onion Valley

Section Two: Onion Valley to Bishop Pass

Ten Days, Sixty Two Miles

Day 1 — Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake. 7.5m, +2870', -1650'
Day 2 — Charlotte Lake to Arrowhead Lake. 7.4m, +2030', -2100'
Day 3 — Layover day
Day 4 — Arrowhead Lake to Twin Lakes. 8.0m , +2190', -1970'
Day 5 — Twin Lakes to Upper Basin. 9.5m, +2350, -2250
Day 6 — Layover
Day 7 — Upper Basin to Lower Palisade Lake. 7.4m, +1670', -1750'
Day 8 — Lower Palisade Lake to Grouse Meadow. 8.6m, +1670', -1750'
Day 9 — Grouse Meadow to Upper Dusy Basin. 7.5m, +3130', -110'
Day 10 — Upper Dusy Basin to South Lake. 6.7m, +875', -2460'

Section Three: Bishop Pass to Red’s Meadow

Eleven Days, Eighty three Miles

Day 1 — South Lake to Lower Dusy Basin
Day 2 — Lower Dusy Basin to Upper Le Conte Canyon
Day 3 — Le Conte Canyon to Evolution or Sapphire Lake
Day 4 — Evolution or Sapphire Lake to Evolution Meadow
Day 5 — Evolution Meadow to Senger Creek
Day 6 — Senger Creek to Bear Creek
Day 7 — Layover
Day 8 — Rose-Marie Meadow to Quail Meadow
Day 9 — Quail Meadow to Horse Heaven
Day 10 — Horse Heaven to Deer Creek
Day 11 — Deer Creek to Red’s Meadow

Section Four: Red’s Meadow to Yosemite

Eight Days, Fifty Miles

Day 1 — Reds Meadow to Gladys Lake
Day 2 — Gladys Lake to Thousand Island Lake
Day 3 — Thousand Island Lake To Upper Rush Creek
Day 4 — Upper Rush Creek to Lyell Canyon
Day 5 — Lyell Canyon to Cathedral Lake
Day 6 — Layover
Day 7 — To Sunrise Creek
Day 8 — Sunrise Creek to Yosemite

Program Prerequisites:

Good level of physical condition. Prior backpacking experience not necessary.

Program Inclusions:

Price includes guiding, permits, outhouse, tents, complete kitchen , breakfasts,lunches and dinners.

Complete pack support with mules, packers, etc. provided by Rock Creek Pack Station.

Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List:

Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List


JMT map 1
JMT map 2
JMT map 3
JMT map 4
JMT map 5