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John Muir Trail: Northbound to Yosemite

Fresno, California

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Book this tour through our partner: MT Sobek

Tackle the northbound half of the John Muir Trail set in California's stunning Sierra Nevada, beginning in Lake Florence and ending in the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows of Yosemite National Park. Traverse mountain passes through several protected zones, including the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness areas — totaling 103 miles through dazzling scenery of 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks, countless lakes, huge granite walls, and rich meadows. The hiking is tough but you'll travel light, as the trip is fully aided by mule support and expert MT Sobek guides who share local legends.


Arrive in Fresno, California

Arrive in Fresno, California, to check in at the DoubleTree by Hilton near the Fresno air terminal by 5pm. At 6pm, meet the guides and the group for a welcome dinner and orientation talk; do the final gear check and discuss the details of the trip.

Start the John Muir Trail at Sallie Keyes

Meet at 7am after breakfast. Drive about three hours to Florence Lake, and meet the horse-packer and mules to offload the gear. Then begin the first leg of the trip, which starts with a ferry ride across Florence Lake (7,325') into the John Muir Wilderness. Today's hike is a mild 6.2 miles with a 400-ft elevation gain to the junction of the John Muir Trail at the Sallie Keyes cut-off.

Hike Over Selden Pass to Rosemarie Meadow

Hike 10 miles over the Selden Pass (10,880') to Rosemarie Meadow, past the picturesque Sallie Keyes Lakes, which were named after Sallie Keyes Shipp, the daughter of the principal owners (and sheepherders) of Blayney Meadows (from 1890-1940). An aspen tree in the meadows is rumored to still have her name carved in it.

Descend to Mono Creek

Today's hike is 11 miles downhill (except for a stout but brief uphill climb of Bear Ridge) to Quail Meadows and into the Mono Creek Drainage at 7,870'. Mono Creek, named after the Mono Indians, drains from the nearby Mono Divide, first crossed on August 2, 1864, by the Brewer party of the Whitney Survey. Mono Creek serves as a main artery in the California watershed.

Head Up to Chief Lake

Today is another uphill day. You'll journey 8 miles to Chief Lake over Silver Pass (10,880') across the Silver Divide, named in 1907-09 by the USGS survey from Theodore S. Solomons' 1896 map of the area. Solomons gave the creek its name because of its silvery appearance.

Pass Tully Hole & Camp at Duck Lake

Just over 11 miles of hiking up and down leads past Tully Hole and Purple Lake to the camp at the Duck Lake junction (9,600'). Tully Hole was named after Gene Tully, who was one of the original 60 rangers of the US Forest Service. He helped rid Yosemite National Park of sheep from 1905-07. Tully Hole was where he rested his stock during his 6-week patrols of the mountains. One of today's highlights is a lunch stop at the picturesque Lake Virginia.

Onward to Red’s Meadow

Today enjoy 11.5 miles of cruising to Red's Meadow in the Mammoth area, with astounding views of the Minarets as well as Mount Ritter and Banner Peak. John Muir made the first ascent in October 1872 and his account of the climb is legendary to mountain climbers. Meet the food drop here and be treated to a natural hot spring-fed shower.

Reach Ansel Adams Wilderness & Shadow Creek

Today enter the Ansel Adams Wilderness, named after the famous photographer and conservationist who took all those iconic photographs of the West. Highlights include the unique Devil's Postpile National Monument. It's an 11-mile hike to Shadow Creek, the next camp, home for the next two nights.

Enjoy Layover Day at Shadow Creek

Today is a well-deserved layover day in the heart of John Muir Trail country. Take time to photograph, fish, hike, wash socks, or just plain hang out.

Hike Over Island Pass to Rush Creek Camp

A 10-mile hike today leads through the famous "postcard" John Muir Trail country of Garnett, Waugh, and Thousand Island Lakes. Hike over Island Pass (10,205') to the campsite on Rush Creek.

Meet the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River

Hike 12 miles over towering Donahue Pass (11,050') beneath the highest peak in Yosemite (Mt. Lyell at 13,114') and down to the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park. Donahue was a sergeant in the cavalry and the peak and pass were named after him by Lt. McClure in 1895, when Donahue made the first ascent.

End the Trek and Return to Fresno

Hike the remaining six miles along the John Muir Trail and finish the long journey in Tuolumne Meadows, where the shuttle awaits with cold drinks and a fresh lunch. After lunch, take the shuttle back through Yosemite Valley before returning to the hotel in Fresno for a celebration dinner and a good night's sleep.

Depart Fresno

Today take the free airport shuttle to the terminal to catch your flight, which can be scheduled to depart at any time.

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Starting From


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13 Days


Fresno, California


Fresno, California

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