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JMT HIke Info Needed
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Bryan Hoofnagle
(bhoofnagle) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 13:37:42 MST Print View

I'm going to have some time opening late summer and I'd like to start planning a JMT thru. If you have any info that will be of assistance (websites, FYI's, ideas formulated through experience, etc.) please repond.


Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 13:52:03 MST Print View

You might consider subscribing to the PCT mailing list, which is a good source for first-hand accounts on trail conditions for the JMT (which coincides with the PCT from Tuolumne Meadows to Crabtree Meadow/Guitar Lake):

Most PCT thru-hikers will have been through the JMT segment of the PCT by early July.

A late summer start should avoid snow (especially this year, unless the Sierras get more snow this winter) and mosquito problems.

If you're feeling more adventurous, you might consider taking parts of the Sierra High Route instead of the JMT for some off-trail/cross-country variety:

I'd specifically recommend the High Route segment from Thousand Island Lake to Tuolumne Meadows, possibly even bypassing Tuolumne Meadows altogether and following the Merced River Trail to/from Yosemite Valley instead. Another recommended alternative is to go over Mono/Parker/Koip Peak Passes instead of Donohue Pass between Tuolumne Meadows and Waugh Lake.

Edited by basilbop on 01/26/2007 13:52:34 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 13:56:49 MST Print View

fine suggestions on the high route and Mono via Koip area of Yosemite. Also agree on the PCT information which the JMT shares much of its mileage with. There are a few places available to mail supplies to Reds Meadow, Vermillon Lake Resort (I think that is the name) and Muir Ranch. You can probably do the hike in 10-12 days max. Amazing country out there. My summer playground!!

Bryan Hoofnagle
(bhoofnagle) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 14:32:43 MST Print View

Any info on permits?
Like how far in advance to obtain, options, etc?

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Re: Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 15:13:10 MST Print View

If you don't already have it, you might want to look at a 2003 publication that contains a great deal of information for backpacking and fishing the JMT. This softbound book is "A Journey Through John Muir Country" by Don Vachini, and is available directly through its publisher Frank Amato Publications in Portland, Oregon ((503)653-8108;, or you might (as I did) find it in a fly-fishing shop in California.

For permit information, the book suggests contacting the National Forest Service ranger station closest to the trailhead you intend to use.

To help with obtaining permits and more information, the book gives contact information for the National Forest Service office for JMT's forest service region (Pacific Southwest Region Office, San Francisco) as well as contact information for the three National Forest Districts where the JMT is located (Inyo, Sewquoia, and Sierra Districts).

Internet sources provided in the book include the Eastern Sierra web page ( and the High Sierra web page (

The bulk of the book consists of chapters on major regions of the JMT (Mt. Whitney region and Independence region), and six major trail sections, providing information for each trail within each section as to the access road (or nearest trail junction) for the trailhead of each trail in the section, difficulty rating and mileage for the trail, and a paragraph or so describing the trail and its flora, fauna, and fishing opportunities.

There's a great deal of essential information packed into this book's 63 pages. Also has some great color photos.

Have a great trip.


Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 15:49:18 MST Print View

Here's three more books that may be worth checking out, and perhaps you are already familiar with them. Two of the books provide general coverage for alpine wilderness fishing in the west. The third book (the first one listed below) is specific to the fishing along the JMT. All of them are available through Frank Amato Publications.

"Trout Fishing the John Muir Trail" by Steve Beck (6" x 9", 96pp)

Book description from Amato's website: "Well marked and well maintained, the John Muir Trail runs 210 miles and is one of the most popular in the country. In addition to being a path through world-class, awe-inspiring scenery, the trail serves as a connection to many fine trout-fishing opportunities. This book covers: planning and preparation; fishing along the trail; fishing tackle; hiking gear; hiking tips; top 20 trout streams; fly recommendations; and more."


"High Sierra Fly Fishing - Basics to Advanced Tactics" by Billy Van Loek (2006, 8 1/2"x11", 96 pp, $19.95/softbound, $29.95/hardbound)

Book description from Amato's website: "The lakes and streams of the High Sierra have the primary element of good trout habitat in abundance: cold, well-oxygenated, unpolluted water. In this book, Billy shares the keys to success in California�s High Sierra for both the beginning and advanced angler, including: how did the trout get there; geology of the High Sierra; trout science; equipment; casting; knots; flies; angling ethics; plus, how to fish the lakes, creeks; advanced tactics; planning your trip; camping info; and much more. Billy shares his hard-won secrets of success fishing the High Sierra so your next trip can be a great one!"


"Alpine Angler - A Fly Fisher's Guide To The Western Wilderness" by John Shewey (1995, 8 1/2" x 11", 80pp, $24.95/hardbound)

Description from Amato website: "John Shewey is one of the West's finest exploring fly fishers. He wrote and photographed this all-color book to help you in your personal discovery of the great trout fishing opportunities that are available for hikers throughout the West from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. Everything you need to know: fly-fishing methods, hatches, entomology, compass work, map sources. You will want this book for the photography alone!

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Alpine-Lake Trout and How They Feed
Chapter 2: Applying The Structural Approach
Chapter 3: Fishing The Hatch: Selective High-Lake Trout
Chapter 4: Float Tubing The Alpine Lakes
Chapter 5: Before You Go: Getting In Shape For Alpine Travel
Chapter 6: Planning Wilderness Fishing Trips
Chapter 7: Map and Compass Skills For The Wilderness Traveler
Chapter 9: Fishing Alpine Streams
Chapter 10: Western Wilderness Areas--An Angler's Guide"


Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 16:09:10 MST Print View

I checked the Hairynet website listed as a JMT resource in the "Journey Through John Muir Country" book and hit a deadend. The other website cited in that book,, appears devoted to mainly non-hikers (lodging, dining, and chamber of commerce stuff).

But googling John Muir Trail turns up a lot of other sites good for JMT wilderness travel, like the following three that looked very promising:


Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 17:00:47 MST Print View

In the Sierra, wilderness permits are always obtained for your entrypoint, and with the exception of the Mt. Whitney area, your permit is good for the entire trip, no matter what areas you travel into. Only the quota for the entrypoint (if it exists) applies.

For the JMT, the two endpoints (Happy Isles, Whitney Portal) can be hard to get permits for, as they both have quotas and tend to fill early--especially Whitney Portal. A weekday start helps a lot. Availability is listed and updated on the Yosemite NP ( and Inyo NF ( websites. Both Yosemite and Inyo allow reserving permits in advance for a small fee. Unless you are a purist who wants to do the entire JMT, you might consider a less-used trailhead.

For a southbound trip, some alternatives are the Panorama Trail (Glacier Point), Mono Pass, or Silver Lake/Gem Lake. (Lyell Fork is as popular as Happy Isles, thus why it's not included here.) Before the JMT was constructed parallel to the Mist trail, it followed the Snow Creek trail out of Yosemite Valley, providing another, historic alternative, especially if you start at the sign in Curry Village noting the original location of the LeConte Memorial, which is the historic start of the JMT. Devils Postpile/Reds Meadow is another alternative, but you're bypassing a lot of scenic country starting this far south.

For northbound, there are fewer options: Cottonwood Lakes/Army Pass is probably the best way to bypass the Whitney Zone. A creative, long, and beautiful west-side start would be to use the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia NP to reach the JMT.

Oh, one more thing: proper food storage is required along most of the JMT due to black bears. In practical terms, this means you'll need an SIBBG-approved ( food storage device, since fixed lockers and trees suitable for hanging can be hard to come by. The Ursack Hybrid is the current low-weight champ, but its approval status is uncertain ( Yosemite, Sequoia, and Inyo's websites all have their current food-storage requirements.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 19:44:36 MST Print View

Dig around on this link.
It has everything that implies to Whitney.

Jeff Alt
(jeffalt) - F
Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/26/2007 20:37:20 MST Print View

Check out our John Muir Trail book, A Hike For Mike, finalist of two book awards and getting great reviews. Click here: .

After walking the AT, I convinced my domesticated wife to walk the JMT; to overcome a family tragedy. The book takes you along the trail with us in an entertaining way. congrats on your AT accomplishment!!! I hope you enjoy your JMT adventure. Jeff Alt

Preston Patton
(prestonpatton) - F - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 01/28/2007 11:19:55 MST Print View

You can reserve your wilderness permits 6 months in advance. If you're starting from Yosemite, you can go to their website 6 months in advance-to the day-and probably won't have problems finding an acceptable start date.

I did the JMT last summer. It was fantastic. Next time I'll probably skip the vertical haul out of Yosemite Valley. Glacier Point is just as scenic but you don't have to endure the ascent.

Have fun!


Edited by prestonpatton on 01/28/2007 11:56:23 MST.

Janet Brewster
(jgranite25) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Re: JMT HIke Info Needed on 03/21/2007 18:29:38 MDT Print View


Don't know if you're still looking for info, so for what it's worth....

Getting the permit as far in advance as possible is key. Although you started this thread two months ago, so maybe you already got it. I started from Tuolumne instead of the Valley because it was easier to get the departure date I wanted. I did a quickie overnight the following year and knocked out the Valley to TM section (which is a slog). I did this a few years ago, so things might have changed, but when I picked up the permit in TM, they put a "Whitney Zone" sticker on the permit, which allowed me to come up the west side, summit, and then exit out the portal.

I highly recommend doing it north to south because the passes get progressively higher, and it gives you a much better chance to acclimate. Hiking the east side of Whitney first off just doesn't seem like much fun. Plus the southern part of the trail is gorgeous, and a great way to end the hike.

My resupplies were at Red's Meadow and the Muir Trail Ranch. If you go late enough in the season, you can stay at the MTR, which I HIGHLY recommend. Excellent food, natural hot springs, need I say more.

I went in September and it was a great time to go -- minimal people, no mosquitoes, no snow on the trail. It's a bit colder and the days are shorter, but it's my favorite time in the high country.

The forums at the PCT and Whitney Portal websites were very informative -- I was able to get good trail reports throughout the summer (I wouldn't rely on the Rangers for this, since they unfortunately aren't out in the field much). I looked into doing the trailhead shuttle by public transportation, but it was quite onerous. Maybe it's changed by now.

My time on the JMT ended up being a fantastic recon trip. I saw all these wonderful places and have since gone back to explore smaller areas further, often using the High Route to get to some amazing, remote places.

Edited by jgranite25 on 03/21/2007 18:33:28 MDT.