What you need to know before hiking the John Muir Trail

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Want to learn more about backpaking? Visit

If you’re planning to hike the John Muir Trail this year, here’s a checklist with facts to get you started.

Route: Happy Isles in Yosemite National Park to Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park or vice versa

Length: 210.4 miles (an additional 11 mile hike is required to get from the summit of Mt. Whitney to the nearest road at Whitney Portal)

Highest elevation: 15,505 feet

Lowest elevation: 4,040 feet

Total elevation change: 84,000 feet (estimated)

Permit: Obtained through Yosemite National Park for a north-south trek or Inyo National Forest for a south-north hike starting 5-6 months ahead of time

Best time to go: July-September, depending on lingering snow in the high country

Resupply: Mail drops can be mailed to Tuolumne Meadows and backcountry camps at Red’s Meadow, Vermillion Valley Ranch and Muir Trail Ranch

Essential gear: backpack, tent, warm sleeping bag, sleeping pad, bear-proof canister for food storage, first aid kit, rain gear, stove, camp food, water, water purification method

Altitude preparedness: Acute Mountain Sickness is a real threat and hikers must educate themselves to understand how best to acclimate, recognize symptoms and know when to descend to avoid potentially fatal consequences


The John Muir Trail Groups on Facebook and Yahoo are a wealth of information for everything from alternate starting points to packing tips.

Want to learn more about backpaking? Visit

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