Stretching from Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park to Mt. Whitney near Sequoia National Park, the John Muir Trail is a favorite among backpackers and long-distance hikers.
And for good reason. This 211-mile route rises up 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks, descends through canyons, winds around granite cliffs and looks out over thousands of lakes. It ends (or starts) at the highest peak in the continental United States. Hikers are especially fond of the weather, which tends to be mild and sunny, especially for an area so high in elevation.
Take on the full trail, and you’ll wander through a bevy of beautiful national parks and wilderness areas, including Yosemite, John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses and Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.
John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park
Within the Yosemite boundaries, JMT hikers will walk past a plethora of photogenic scenes. Plan to camp at (1) Little Yosemite Valley the first night, which a trail description on JohnMuirTrail.org desribes as “absolutely gorgeous, with tall pine trees and the river running through it.” Tackle (2) Half Dome the next day, where you should be prepared for a very steep (think 60-to-70-degree inclines) trek up to one of the most noted spots in the park. The trail continues on past (3) Trissider Peak, (4) Cathedral Peak, and Columbia Finger–all worthy of a pic or two. On the border of Yosemite and the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness, hikers come across (5) Donahue Pass, at 11,056 feet, the trail’s highest point in the park.