The John Muir Trail is one of the finest hikes to be found anywhere in the world. 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.

Perhaps a 200-mile trip carrying a full backpacking load seems too much for you. We can understand.

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 gorgeous, four-hooved friends (mules). We offer high quality meals, a relaxed pace and if not all the comforts of home some additional comforts not typical of a backpacking trip, such as a chair at the end of the day. (You will never appreciate a chair more than you will during a backpacking trip!) 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.


Our route starts at Cottonwood Meadows to the south of Mount Whitney and winds north over two hundred miles to Yosemite Valley. We head north instead of south, and start further south than Whitney due to the extreme difficulty of obtaining permits, and to allow our guests more time to acclimate before reaching 11k, 12k, and 13k+ feet.

The big question everyone asks is “How much will I have to carry?” The answer is “Not much.” A day pack with water, extra clothing, lunch, rainwear, sunscreen, a camera etc. Your day pack ideally weighs less than 10 pounds.

This is a long trip 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 and/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. Though most days will be shorter, you need to be prepared for up to fourteen miles a day. Most importantly, you should possess endurance and the ability and flexibility to deal with whatever happens. Please contact us for details if you have specific questions.

Backcountry Conditions

We do this trip from mid-August to early September to get what we consider to be the best conditions. Most biting insects and bugs should be gone. While getting shorter, days should be warm with day temperatures in the 60º region and nights dipping to about 32º rarely, and only at the higher elevations. 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).

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