At Trail Crest on the John Muir Trail, Mount Whitney, Sequoia National Park.

Video: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Will 2018 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. 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.

Calling the JMT “America’s most beautiful trail” can sound hyperbolic, given the competition in places like Grand Canyon and Glacier national parks, southern Utah, and even elsewhere in California’s High Sierra.

But the description has stuck hard to the John Muir Trail for many years, nonetheless—and it’s hard to argue against the claim.


Get the right backpack for a hike like the JMT. See my picks for “The 10 Best Backpacking Packs
and the best thru-hiking packs.


Meandering 211 miles from Yosemite National Park to the summit of Mount Whitney (where you then face an 11-mile descent to finish the trip), it crosses a landscape dappled with thousands of lakes, and mountain passes over 13,000 feet high (like Trail Crest on Mount Whitney, in the photo above) below peaks soaring to 14,000 feet. Sheer granite cliffs loom everywhere, and roaring waterfalls are too numerous to even all have names. The JMT passes through contiguous, pristine wilderness in three national parks—Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia—and two federal wilderness areas, the John Muir and Ansel Adams.

I’ve backpacked all over the U.S., and I still consider the JMT one of “My Top 10 Favorite Backpacking Trips.” I think you’ll see why in this video. After watching it, scroll down to the link to my story about that trip.


Want to hike the John Muir Trail? Click here for expert, detailed advice you won’t get elsewhere.


Wondering whether you are up to it? Read my story about my thru-hike, where you can view lots of photos and get detailed advice on planning this adventure of a lifetime yourself.

The JMT has grown enormously popular, making it increasingly difficult to get a permit for a thru-hike, and the time period for applying is coming up soon. See my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.” Find more info at


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Visit my Youtube page, where you’ll find many more videos from other great trips I’ve written about here at The Big Outside. You may find some ideas for your next big adventure. You can also scroll through menus at my All Trips page of all of my stories at The Big Outside.


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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by USA Today and others. I invite you to sign up for my FREE email newsletter by entering your email address in the box in the left sidebar, at the bottom of this story, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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