California walking tour, John Muir Trail

“Hike the length of one of America’s finest and most famous long distance routes, the John Muir Trail, with a small group of similar abilities. Cross three national parks including Yosemite and climb the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney.”


John Muir Trail | Bishop | Chicken Springs Lake | Cottonwood Meadows | Mount Whitney | Rae Lakes | Woods Creek | Golden Staircase | Le Conte Canyon | Big Pete Meadow | Evolution Valley | Muir Trail Ranch | Silver Divide | Red's Meadow | Thousand Island Lake | Lyell Canyon | Tuolumne |

Description of California walking tour, John Muir Trail

Spanning almost 340km, the John Muir Trail is a favourite among hikers seeking isolation amid epic scenery. The majority of this epic route runs through High Sierra wilderness and backcountry, and it also takes in sections of the Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks.

Daily hikes will range from 10-24km, and as this trip runs for 23 days, experience of multiday hiking is essential. You’ll also need to be fit enough to carry everything you need on your back, although regular food resupplies will be provided, sometimes brought into camp by mule! Assume pack weights of around 20kg. Over the course of the trip, you’ll ascend an average of around 600m each day, but walking is done at a fairly relaxed pace and time allotted at the start for acclimatisation.

An early, but optional challenge comes with the opportunity to climb to the summit of Mount Whitney which at 4421m is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States. After around two weeks on the trail, another major highpoint comes with the stretch through Evolution Valley as you swing out to the western Sierra. The scenery is magnificent throughout, from glacial bowls to alpine peaks, forested river canyons to vast meadows.

Those landscapes are of course only enhanced by that renowned California weather, and with a bit of luck the Golden State will do itself justice. You can expect warm, and sometimes very hot weather, as this hike takes place over the summer. For those unable to spare three weeks in one go, there are also options to tackle the John Muir Trail in stages over several summers.

Travel Team

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06 Jul 2020
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03 Aug 2020
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04 Sep 2020
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Responsible tourism

California walking tour, John Muir Trail

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


Our local mountain guides on the John Muir Trail in America are trained in minimal impact principles and duty bound to protect the environment of all wilderness areas we visit and to uphold a strict protection code for wildlife. Our philosophy since 1975 has been to leave only footprints and take only photographs. To reiterate this, every customer who travels with us receives a copy of our award-winning Responsible Travel guidebook. This detailed book outlines our environmentally sustainable principles, and outlines how each customer can minimize their impact while travelling. Each group size is small which helps once again to minimise our impact on each visit on this remote trek. We bring in everything and take out everything, and out impact is minimal. We use gas stoves to ensure no deforestation and all food is carefully stored to ensure bears are not disturbed. In addition we support various organisations including; Friends of the Inyo (Working To Preserve The Public Lands and Wildlife of the Eastern Sierra), American Birding Association, California Wilderness Coalition, The Wilderness Society & Earth Justice


During our John Muir Trail in America we support rural tourism by buying from local outfitters who use local guides. By visiting rural communities you are helping local rural development by as the majority of local people are invested in conservation as most towns we visit are attached to national parks. Local cash payments are becoming increasingly popular with many operators in the adventure travel industry. This policy seems to benefit the tour operators more than the local economies or the travellers, as it avoids local taxes and transfers the costs and risks of cash handling onto the travellers. In accordance with our Responsible Travel practices, we have chosen a policy of not asking for such payments.

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