John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park Hiking

Yosemite National Park
> Trails
> John Muir Trail

John Muir Trail

The California John Muir Trail is one that marks hundreds of miles of pure enjoyment, hiking from Yosemite National Park to points beyond, past mountain peaks, forests and scenic wonders.

  • Yosemite John Muir Trail is a trek of 211 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • The average time it takes is 20 days
  • This trek is moderate to strenuous with 46,000 feet elevation gain hiking north to south
  • Trailhead is at Happy Isles in Yosemite National Park


The popular John Muir Trail begins in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, within Yosemite National Park, and travels 211 miles northeast all the way to Mount Whitney. This long-distance trek passes many wonders of Yosemite, heads through the Inyo and Sierra National Forests, Sequoia National Park and other places of interest.

John Muir Trail California officially begins at the Happy Isles Trailhead in Yosemite Valley. All roads in Yosemite lead to the valley. Follow the signs to Happy Isles.


  • Distance – 211 miles
  • Average Time of Hike – 20 days
  • Elevation Gain – 46,000 feet (when hiking north to south)
  • Difficulty – Moderate to strenuous
  • Trail Type – One-way

Below are some shorter segments of the John Muir Trail you may like to hike when in Yosemite National Park.

Vernal Fall (top)

  • Distance – 1.5 miles
  • Average Time of Hike – 1 hour
  • Elevation Gain – 1,000 feet
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Trail Type – One-way

Half Dome

  • Distance – 8.2 miles
  • Average Time of Hike – 6 hours
  • Elevation Gain – 4,800 feet
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Trail Type – One-way

Tuolumne Meadows (via Cathedral Lakes)

  • Distance – 21.2 miles
  • Average Time of Hike – 3 days
  • Elevation Gain – 2,790 feet
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Trail Type – One-way

Plan & Prepare

To hike the entire John Muir Trail Yosemite will take some planning. You should always be well equipped for changes in weather, possible snow pack melting at the higher elevations and sudden storms.

The best hiking season for this trail is from July through September. But remember, you may still find snow in the high country as late as August.

One particularly important point in backpacking the John Muir Trail is to carry your food in bear canisters. Bears are common along the trail and you want to protect your food and scented items. Leaving them out only for a few moments can result in theft from bears.

You will need a permit to hike the trail, and you can get one at your point of entry. This single permit is valid for the entire hike. The Whitney Portal holds a lottery for wilderness permits. There is a daily quota for permits issued, so getting them online might be advantageous.