Kings Canyon National Park

A hiker at Trail Crest on the John Muir Trail on Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park.

Video: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

Will 2019 be the year that you hike the John Muir Trail? While next summer may seem very far off, an ambitious undertaking like a thru-hike of “America’s most beautiful trail”—more than 220 miles and anywhere from under two weeks to over three weeks—requires significant advance planning, and the time period for applying for a permit for it is coming up soon. Take your first step on that adventure right now by watching this video from my thru-hike of the JMT, and then click the link below to my story about that great trip, with my tips on how to do it right. Plus, read on to see how I can give you the best expert advice you’ll find to planning a JMT thru-hike.

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A hiker in the Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Photo Gallery: California’s National Parks

By Michael Lanza

Examine the wealth of natural places protected within our 59 national parks, and you’ll quickly see that no state has more than California’s nine (more even than Alaska’s eight). And arguably, no state has a greater diversity of parks than the Golden State, from desert to snowy mountains, giant sequoias and redwoods to rocky islands, the highest peak in the Lower 48 to the lowest and hottest patch of scorched earth. The list includes some of our most iconic and beloved parks and some of the least-known, least-crowded, and most mysterious: Channel Islands. Death Valley. Joshua Tree. Kings Canyon. Lassen Volcanic. Pinnacles. Redwood. Sequoia. Yosemite.

Doesn’t that list make you want to start planning a trip right now?

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Granite Park, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the John Muir Wilderness

By Michael Lanza

Want to know where I shot the mountains photo in the banner across the top of The Big Outside? It was in Granite Park in the John Muir Wilderness, on a 32-mile traverse of one of the highest and most achingly gorgeous sections of California’s High Sierra, from North Lake, outside Bishop, to Mosquito Flat, between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes. My route linked up trails with long stretches of rugged cross-country hiking over lake-studded alpine basins and six passes between 11,150 and 13,040 feet, exploring corners of the Sierra rarely seen by people.

John Muir himself would have been pleased, as I think you’ll agree after seeing this photo gallery from that trip.

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A backpacker at Sapphire Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

Ask Me: How to Load a Bear Canister Into a Backpack

Banner Peak above Thousand Island Lake on the John Muir Trail in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of California's High Sierra.

Ask Me: What Clothing Do You Recommend for August in the High Sierra?

Hi Michael,

I have been enjoying your adventure posts immensely; keep up the great work!

I lead hikes for the local chapter of the Sierra Club in Tucson, and in mid-August we’ll be doing a 7-day backpacking adventure in the High Sierra. We’ll be accessing the John Muir Trail, with elevations ranging from 9,000 to 12,000 feet. How cold can it get at this time of year and what clothes/protection would you recommend? Would a light windbreaker over a fleece with gloves and hat be sufficient? Or would you recommend a down jacket, etc.?

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