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John Muir Trail Photo of Mount Whitney (summit on right) taken from near the Whitney Portal trailhead. Keeler Needle is to its left, and Crooks Peak is to the far left.

The John Muir Trail (JMT) is a 211-mile trail that runs through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. The trail spans from Yosemite at one end to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States, at the other. In addition to the notorious beauty and serenity of the High Sierras, the John Muir Trail offers one of the sunniest, mildest climates of any major mountain range in the world. The trail can be hiked in its entirety, taking from a couple of weeks to over a month, or many portions of the JMT are often used by backpackers, day-hikers, and runners.

Prime hiking season for the John Muir Trail is from July to September. Earlier in the season, hikers may encounter lingering snow or risen streams from snowmelt, but weather conditions later in the season are generally sunny and dry.

A vast majority of thru-hikers travel from north to south, beginning their journey in Yosemite and ending at Mt. Whitney. This route increases in altitude and difficulty from start to finish, allowing hikers to adjust to the hike’s elevation and conditioning requirements as they progress along the trail.

A permit is required for any overnight stay along the John Muir Trail, and can be obtained from the trail head in the national park or forest where you begin your hike. If you are planning an overnight stay, we recommend planning ahead and getting a wilderness permit in advance of your trip, as there is a quota to prevent crowding on the trails, and the permits go quickly!

For more information on day hikes along the John Muir Trail, view our list of hiking trails (for hikers of all experience levels) in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. For safe and comfortable cabin-camping within the parks, consider an overnight stay at our Bearpaw High Sierra Camp.

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