Discover the Majestic Yosemite National Park John Muir Trail

The John Muir Trail (JMT) is a 211-mile long-distance hiking trail that passes through the stunning landscapes of Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks in California. Named after the renowned naturalist and conservationist John Muir, this trail offers hikers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Discovering the Highlights of Yosemite’s Portion of the JMT

Yosemite National Park is home to nearly 70 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, which includes the iconic John Muir Trail. The highest point along this section is Donohue Pass, standing at an impressive 11,056 feet. The lowest spot in Yosemite is near Benson Lake, which sits at an elevation of 7,560 feet.

Navigating the Permit System

If you plan to hike the JMT as a continuous journey, you only need one wilderness permit from Yosemite for the entire trip. However, the demand for these permits has increased significantly since 2000, and in 2015, Yosemite National Park implemented an exit quota to protect access for other hikers and preserve the quality of the JMT experience. The exit quota limits the number of hikers exiting the Yosemite Wilderness over Donohue Pass to 45 per day, with 15 available for the Happy Isles to Past LYV (Donohue Pass eligible) trailhead and 30 available for permits using the Lyell Canyon (Donohue Pass eligible) trailhead.

Timing Your Hike

The best time to hike the JMT is from April until October, and many shuttles will take you from the Yosemite Valley to the start of the trail in Tuolumne Meadows via Tioga Road during this time. If you plan to hike outside of those months, you’ll need to park your car in the valley and find a ride to Tuolumne Meadows or park at the trailhead next to the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center and arrange for a ride back when you finish in the valley.

Challenges and Rewards of the JMT

Yosemite National Park John Muir Trail

The John Muir Trail is a challenging route that requires extensive backpacking experience and months of training due to the high altitude and rugged terrain. However, the rewards of hiking this trail are truly unparalleled, with countless alpine lakes, meadows, rugged peaks, glaciers, aspen, sequoia, and redwood groves lining the trail.

Stunning Scenery and Natural Wonders

As you hike the JMT through Yosemite, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the park’s iconic landmarks, such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. The trail also passes through lush meadows, ancient forests, and pristine alpine lakes, offering hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada.

Wildlife Encounters

The JMT is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including black bears, mule deer, pikas, and a variety of bird species. Hikers should be prepared to encounter these animals and follow proper food storage and wildlife safety protocols to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Planning Your JMT Adventure

Hiking the John Muir Trail is a significant undertaking that requires extensive planning and preparation. From securing permits to packing the right gear, there are many factors to consider when embarking on this epic journey.

Permit Requirements and Availability

As mentioned earlier, obtaining a wilderness permit from Yosemite National Park is a crucial step in planning your JMT hike. These permits are in high demand, so it’s essential to apply for them well in advance to increase your chances of securing a spot.

Gear and Equipment Considerations

Hiking the JMT requires specialized gear and equipment to ensure your safety and comfort on the trail. This includes a lightweight backpack, durable hiking boots, warm layers, and a reliable water filtration system, among other essential items.

Training and Preparation

The JMT is a physically demanding hike that requires extensive training and preparation. Hikers should gradually build up their endurance and strength through regular exercise and practice hikes to ensure they are ready for the challenges of the trail.


The John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park is a truly remarkable hiking experience that offers hikers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the stunning natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or a newcomer to the world of long-distance hiking, the JMT is a trail that is sure to leave a lasting impression and create memories that will last a lifetime.


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