7
Challenging

Traveler Rating

 

Activities
  • 22 day full pack hike
Accommodation
  • 22 nights camping
Meals
  • 22 Dinners
  • 22 Lunches
  • 22 Breakfasts

Price

23 daysfrom

$4430USD

Overview

Trip code: JMT

Trip highlights


  • Summit Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States at 4418m
  • Traverse the spectacular Sierra Mountain Range
  • Cross numerous 3000m+ high mountain passes
  • Challenge yourself with a full pack on a classic long-distance trail
  • Walk among alpine peaks, glacier-gouged canyons, and crystal-clear lakes
  • Immerse yourself in pine forests and lush meadows

The John Muir Trail is one of the finest hikes in North America. The route starts at Cottonwood Lakes, makes its way up to the high point of the lower forty-eight states, Mount Whitney (4418m), and continues some two hundred miles to Tuolumne in Yosemite National Park. We will need to carry everything for the trip, so carrying a full pack of around 20kg is usual. Food stocks are re-supplied at a number of stages making our packs lighter, but packing carefully is essential. We'll hike 10-24 km per day and we can expect the unexpected, so solid multi-day backpacking experience is essential. Along the way the trail climbs over 4000m passes, wanders beneath high alpine peaks and traverses beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. Over the course of the trip, we will have gained over 12,000m in ascents (averaging about 600m per day). The spectacular scenery is combined with the generally clement weather of California and warm (sometimes very hot) summer temperatures. This is truly a trip of a lifetime to be remembered for years to come. We realize that not everyone has 23 days to spare and so we also have options to complete the trail in segments over consecutive summers, please ask us for details.

*NOTE: Due to the recent popularity of the trail, permit restrictions have increased. In order to successfully secure permits and offer an exceptional experience, we are operating the trip in a northbound direction. To properly acclimatize, the trip is 1-2 days longer than it would be if operating southbound.


Itinerary

Today is a day to go over our gear and prepare for the adventure ahead. We meet at our headquarters in Bishop (approx. 11:00am), do a gear check, collect resupply bags, and pick up last minute items before heading south to Horseshoe Meadows. It will a busy morning, clarifying resupply needs, finalizing personal gear, and distributing group gear. You will have 7 days of personal snacks and powdered drinks in your pack when we meet, which you provide. You will purchase your own lunch in Bishop and after lunch we will drive approx. 2 hours to the Cottonwood Campground. We'll camp at the Cottonwood Campground which is already at approximately 3000m (10,000 feet) in elevation - Giving us a chance to further acclimate before beginning our adventure. *Complimentary transfer from hotels in Mammoth and Bishop, upon request.

Meals:  D

To further assist in acclimation, we start off slowly and ease into the hiking with a short first day of about 8km and 400m altitude gain taking us to camp at Chicken Springs Lake. From there, we lose some elevation, spending the next 2 nights between 2900m-3200m as we approach Mt. Whitney. Daily distances are approx: 8, 16, and 13 km

Meals:  B,L,D

We plan to make our base at Crabtree Meadows or Guitar Lake for 2 nights in order to reduce pack weight and focus on the big day ahead - The summit of the highest point of our journey, the stunning Mount Whitney (4418m). The hike is approximately 23km, round trip, with an elevation gain of approximately 1200m. We will be happy we only have to carry enough items for the day - And for the final summit push, we can even leave these at Trailcrest to be picked up on our way back down. Those who are not feeling up to the big day can easily stay in camp, soak up the scenery and relax.

Meals:  B,L,D

This is a spectacular segment as it traverses high glacial bowls far above the main river drainage system and includes two of the highest passes on the trail - Forester Pass at 4025m and Glen Pass at 3650m, before descending to beautiful Rae Lakes where we pick up our food re-supply. Daily distances of approx. 12 - 21km

Meals:  B,L,D

From Rae, we head down to Woods Creek and climb up over Pinchot Pass (3690m) before dropping into the expanse of Upper Basin at the head of the South Fork of the Kings River. The crossing of Mather Pass (3670m) gives us a view of our route to the north before we descend the 'Golden Staircase' that takes us far down into Palisade Creek and the deeply incised Le Conte Canyon. Our next resupply comes in via mule and we pick that up at Big Pete Meadow. Daily distances of approx. 13-19km

Meals:  B,L,D

For many people, this is the most beautiful section of the JMT. We stay high through the Evolution Valley, pass by the stone shelter at Muir Pass (3645m), commence a large swing out to the western Sierra, and gradually lose elevation until we reach our lowest point of about 2390 meters at Muir Trail Ranch. Our resupply has been sent by post and awaits our arrival. Daily distances of approx. 13, 24, and 24km.

Meals:  B,L,D

Here, we cross the Silver Divide with its small lakes and jagged peaks. Lots of smaller ups and downs characterize this section and the really big passes are now behind us. The terrain and vegetation changes as we near Mammoth Mountain and we hit our first 'civilization' and road at Red's Meadow. We pick up our resupply here and then we are set to tackle the final section. Daily distances of approx. 14-23km

Meals:  B,L,D

The days are now a lot easier with less elevation change and the miles will pass by easily. We traverse the Thousand Island Lake area that is well known for its serenity and wonderful rock colours. Daily distances of approx. 16km

Meals:  B,L,D

We top out on our last pass, Donohue Pass, and descend into the broad glacial carved Lyell Canyon. It is now all downhill to our pickup in Tuolumne, followed by our shuttle to Bishop or Mammoth Lakes, where our great adventure comes to an end but a lifetime of stories lies ahead.

Meals:  B,L


Inclusions

  • 22 breakfasts, 22 lunches and 22 dinners
  • Professional certified mountain guide(s) with wilderness first aid certification. Max 5 hikers to 1 guide.
  • Transfer from Mammoth Lakes to Bishop on day 1 of the trip & transfer back to Bishop or Mammoth Lakes on the last day of the trek (upon request)
  • Group equipment such as tents, food canisters, and water purification
  • Porter or mule supported supply drops during the trip
  • Contingency and emergency support, phone and radio
  • First aid kit
  • All necessary permits

  • Flights and Airport taxes
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, and backpack
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, phone calls, postage, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Pre or post trip accommodation, or additional accommodation due to weather delays
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory)
  • Visas
  • Guide gratuities
  • Medical treatment and evacuation charges

Suitability

Challenging

7

Anyone undertaking a challenging adventure should be aware of the physical and mental demands involved. Our challenging treks are designed for experienced adventurers who are seeking a real challenge. A well above average level of fitness is required as days can involve 10 hours of strenuous exercise in very remote and rugged terrain, and some walks may be exploratory venturing far off the beaten track. Because this is a full pack hike, we recommend that people begin their fitness preparation immediately upon booking. Solid work outs that are aerobic (hill walking, jogging, swimming, biking or gym work) of up to one hour each day is a guide to a routine training program; interspersed with a relatively demanding weekend hike with a backpack that weighs approx 17 kgs or more on some occasions! The best exercise for trekking is bushwalking involving relatively steep ascents and descents; multi day walks are ideal preparation for our challenging adventures. If you can be as fit and prepared as possible, you will enjoy the trip so much more. It is far more preferable to plan towards it being a holiday than a survival experience! This is a trip of a life time and the fitter you are, the better time you will have.


Departure dates


Notes

Note:
This trip is based on twin or multi-share accommodation, such as mountain huts or cabins. A single supplement is not available due to lodging/campsite restrictions. On backpacking trips, sharing tents also allow us to keep the shared weight to a minimum.

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Total Priceper person from

$4430USD

* All prices subject to applicable taxes

Options & Supplements*
    * Prices listed are per person. All prices subject to applicable taxes.

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Our Expertise

Everyone who works with us, from our office staff, ground staff and guides is the ‘’real deal’’. Our team is comprised of actual hikers and cyclists who have explored or live in the region in which you will be traveling. Our entire network is highly-specialised in active travel.

Great Value

Quality services at the best price make our active trips great value for money. Having essential items included like National Park fees, accommodations, most meals, bikes for cycling trips, maps and support for peace of mind. Our inclusions allow you to better budget for your big adventure.

Innovative Itineraries

We look beyond the horizon to find new and exciting adventures. We’re passionate about shaping the next generation of outdoor travel in North America, and constantly seek different ways, routes and alternatives to exceed our clients’ dreams.

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We are committed to responsible travel and true sustainability, formed when the company was established, and in the face of a multitude of threats to the environment, our commitment is stronger than ever. We aim to "leave no trace" in both an environmental and cultural sense.