Views of mountains and forests along John Muir Trail
Luis A Sepulveda Hidalgo/

John Muir Trail

Updated by Pat Dorri on February 17 2024

A historic trail that traces the footsteps of naturalist John Muir, this stunning hike through the heart of the Sierra Nevada is challenging but so rewarding. Follow the John Muir Trail and you can expect a breath taking trek past mountains, lakes and meadows as you make this exciting and memorable journey.

An overview of the distance and difficulty hiking John Muir Trail
πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ Distance211 miles
⏱️ Time2-4 weeks
πŸ’ͺ DifficultyAdvanced
πŸ”οΈ Elevation46,460 feet

Where can I find John Muir Trail within Yosemite National Park?

The John Muir Trail starts in Yosemite Valley ends Mount Whitney. The Arch Rock Entrance is the closest to reach the start, so drive into the park on El Portal Road and join Southside Drive. This will turn into Happy Isles Loop Road and the trailhead is on this road.

Long term parking is available at Yosemite Valley, however, remember this hike takes weeks so it's advisable to arrive by public transport.

What makes this hike so special?

The John Muir Trail covers 211-miles, and is world-renowned. Trekking through the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, you'll see the wilderness scattered with mountain peaks and alpine lakes for an unforgettable experience.

How we rate the different aspects of John Muir Trail
FeatureOur rating
Natural beauty and scenery⭐⭐⭐
Wildlife spotting⭐⭐⭐
Peace and quiet⭐⭐⭐
Marie Lake in the High Sierra Mountains on a sunny day
Marvel at Marie Lake as you head along John Muir Trail in the High Sierra Mountains.

What are the highlights of hiking John Muir Trail?

The John Muir Trail passes some of the most iconic sites within Yosemite National Park, with the trail itself a bucket-list adventure. Here are some of the exciting places you'll visit as you make this epic journey.

  1. Yosemite Valley - A glacial valley in Yosemite National Park, famed for its towering granite summits and waterfalls.
  2. Kings Canyon National Park - Kings Canyon National Park is renowned for its deep valleys, tall trees, and rugged terrain. A visual treat!
  3. Sequoia National Park - Home to some of the largest trees on Earth, the giant sequoias, standing as tall monuments within a landscape.
  4. John Muir Wilderness - Spans an area of the Sierra Nevada, dotted with alpine peaks, meadows, and clear blue lakes, and is preserved as a tribute to the conservation efforts of its namesake.

When is the best time to visit John Muir Trail?

Hiking John Muir Trail is a Yosemite Falls Trail offers an easy and family-friendly opportunity to see Yosemite's famous waterfall up close, with minimal effort and maximum reward, particularly during spring when the falls are at their fullest.

When is the best time to visit John Muir Trail
Spring🌷 Late spring the snow is usually starting to melt, and wildflowers begin to bloom making the hike particularly pretty.
Summerβ˜€οΈSummer is the least challenging time to hike, with more daylight so you can hike more miles per day - although can be busier.
AutumnπŸ‚ The weather starts to cool, reducing the number of mosquitoes and hikers, with less chance of thunderstorms than in summer.
Winter❄️ In winter, high elevation areas will be difficult to pass because of snow, which might even begin falling from mid-September.

Common questions about hiking John Muir Trail

The John Muir Trail is an unforgettable hiking experience that is known world-wide. Before you make this challenging and exciting trek please read what facilities are available along the way so that you can adequately plan ahead.

Is John Muir Trail easily accessible for those with mobility issues?

❌ No, John Muir Trail is not easily accessible for those with mobility issues. The long trail is through high mountain terrain, often remote and challenging, even for experienced hikers.

Are there restrooms along John Muir Trail?

❌ No, there are no specific restrooms along John Muir Trail. Campgrounds along the trail may have toilet facilities, otherwise make sure to practice the Leave No Trace principles.

Are there refreshments and water stations along John Muir Trail?

❌ No, there are no refreshments or water stations along John Muir Trail. The John Muir Trail is long distance and demanding and requires careful planning to factor gear, food, and resupply points.

Are dogs allowed along John Muir Trail?

❌ No, dogs are allowed along John Muir Trail.

Are vehicles allowed along John Muir Trail?

❌ No, cars, electric scooters, and ATVs are not allowed on John Muir Trail, however hikers are also joined by horse riders.

Can you camp overnight along John Muir Trail (or nearby)?

β­• Yes, you can camp overnight along John Muir Trail.

❗ You'll need backcountry camping skills and permits to camp. There are some restrictions during the initial 4-mile stretch of trail.

Is there anything else to watch out for when I hike John Muir Trail?

The trail is named after environmentalist John Muir. He's known as "The Father of Our National Park System" after his work helped preserve National Parks like Yosemite.

You'll pass the High Sierra, so acclimate to the high elevations to avoid altitude sickness. And make sure to be bear-aware, as you'll hike through areas of wilderness with lots of wildlife.

Sunset in the High Sierras. John Muir Trail, with pink and blue skies, mountain views reflected in the forefront lake
Incredible sunrises are ready to greet you during your hike across John Muir Trail.
Jason Hatfield/