California John Muir Trail Northbound to Yosemite Trek Tour

A Legendary Wilderness Adventure in the Sierra Nevada


Tackle the northbound half of the John Muir Trail set in California's stunning Sierra Nevada, beginning in Lake Florence and ending at Yosemite National Park's beautiful Tuolumne Meadows. 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-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.

13 Days

From: $9,495

Tackle the northbound half of the John Muir Trail set in California's stunning Sierra Nevada, beginning in Lake Florence and ending at Yosemite National Park's beautiful Tuolumne Meadows. 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-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.

Highlights


  • Hike 103 miles on one of the most scenic wilderness trails in the world

  • Take in spectacular protected areas, including the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness

  • Descend from the Pacific Crest to Yosemite's high-elevation Tuolumne Meadows with its meandering river

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California John Muir Trail Northbound to Yosemite Trek

Start: Fresno, California  End: Fresno, California

Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.

Itinerary


  • Arrive in Fresno, California

    Day 1

    Arrive in Fresno, California, to check in at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Fresno Yosemite Airport, near the Fresno air terminal, by 4pm. At 6pm, join the guides for an orientation and final gear check, along with a welcome dinner near the hotel.

    Accommodation: Fairfield Inn & Suites Fresno Yosemite Airport

    Meals: Dinner

  • Start the John Muir Trail at Sallie Keyes

    Day 2

    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 5.24 miles with a 862-ft elevation gain and 453-ft elevation loss to the junction of the John Muir Trail at the Sallie Keyes cut-off and Shooting Star Meadow.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 3-4 hours/5.24 miles hiking with 862' elevation gain and 453' elevation loss

    Transportation: 3-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Hike Over Selden Pass to Rosemarie Meadow

    Day 3

    Hike 9 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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 5-6 hours/8.9 miles hiking to 10,880', with 3,297' elevation gain and 1,103' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Descend to Mono Creek

    Day 4

    Today's hike is 10.87 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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 6 hours/10.87 miles hiking to 10,036'', with 1,125' elevation gain and 3,287' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Head Up to Chief Lake

    Day 5

    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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 4-6 hours/8 miles hiking, with 3,150' elevation gain and 413' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Pass Tully Hole & Camp at Duck Lake

    Day 6

    Just over 11 miles of hiking up and down leads past Tully Hole and Purple Lake to the camp at the Duck Lake junction (9,520'). 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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 6-7 hours/11 miles hiking, with 2,210' elevation gain and 2,870' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Onward to Red's Meadow

    Day 7

    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 shower.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 6-7 hours/11.5 miles hiking, with 670' elevation gain and 2,984' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Reach Ansel Adams Wilderness & Shadow Creek

    Day 8

    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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 6 hours/11 miles hiking, with 2,905' elevation gain and 1,482' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Enjoy Layover Day at Shadow Creek

    Day 9

    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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Hike Over Island Pass to Rush Creek Camp

    Day 10

    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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 5-6 hours/9.9 miles hiking to 10,205' with 2,925' elevation gain and 1,812' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Meet the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River

    Day 11

    Hike 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.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

    Activity: 5 hours/6.4 miles hiking to 11,050' with 1,134' elevation gain and 2,306' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • End the Trek and Return to Fresno

    Day 12

    Hike the remaining eight miles along the John Muir Trail and finish the incredible journey in Tuolumne Meadows, where the shuttle awaits with cold drinks and a fresh lunch. After lunch, continue through Yosemite National Park en route to the airport hotel in Fresno for a celebration dinner and a good night's sleep.

    Accommodation: Fairfield Inn & Suites Fresno Yosemite Airport

    Activity: 5 hours/8.4 miles hiking with 295' elevation gain and 624' elevation loss

    Transportation: 4-hour transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Depart Fresno

    Day 13

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

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Dates & Prices


  • 2023
  • Go Custom
  • Inclusions

2023

Scheduled Dates


The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.

Go Custom

Create Your Very Own Adventure


Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.

When to start planning? Earlier is always better when designing a custom trip. More time allows for better availability of preferred accommodations, guides and your desired activities. Ideally, start the conversation with us at least 6 months before you want to travel. If you are looking for a custom trip that departs within three months, chances are greatly diminished in securing requested accommodations and the best guides.

*Custom trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit once an itinerary is agreed upon.

Start Planning

Inclusions

Price Includes


  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include


  • Domestic or International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and packers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert


800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Your Guides


The best people to immerse you in a destination are the ones who live there, which is why we feature local Adventure Guides on our trips. Here are a few that you might meet on this adventure.

Fred Ackerman

Fred Ackerman

Fred enjoyed his first backpacking trip in college, walking 20+ miles in inappropriate footwear and spending a few cold nights in front of the fire without a sleeping bag. He caught the travel bug from there and was soon plotting and executing adventures in California's endless wild places. In addition to being an adventure guide, Fred is also an EMT with a certification in wilderness medicine. He's hiked and climbed thousands of miles around the Sierra including a solo 200+ mile hike of the Sierra High Route. Join Fred on MT Sobek's hiking adventures in California.

Alex Kendrall

Alex Kendrall

Alex grew up in Concord, New Hampshire exploring the mountains of New England. It was here that his spirit and passion for adventure began. Alex's love for shared wilderness experiences has culminated in a degree in Outdoor Education and certifications from the American Mountain Guiding Association (AMGA). Moving to California was the culmination of a dream come true, where he is able to combine his passion for climbing with a career in guiding. He has a tremendous amount of experience in the backcountry and great leadership qualities.

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

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Activity Level


This trip is rated activity level 5. This trip is designed for the seasoned hiker. You are expected to hike with up to 15 pounds in your daypack about 5 to 13 miles per day (about 5 to 8 hours per day) for 12 days, with one layover day. We will hike a total of 90 miles on mountain trails that are often steep and uneven and mostly at elevations above 9,000'.
Learn more about activity levels here.

Activity Snapshot

Day 2

3-4 hours/5.24 miles hiking with 862' elevation gain and 453' elevation loss

Day 3

5-6 hours/8.9 miles hiking to 10,880', with 3,297' elevation gain and 1,103' elevation loss

Day 4

6 hours/10.87 miles hiking to 10,036'', with 1,125' elevation gain and 3,287' elevation loss

Day 5

4-6 hours/8 miles hiking, with 3,150' elevation gain and 413' elevation loss

Day 6

6-7 hours/11 miles hiking, with 2,210' elevation gain and 2,870' elevation loss

Day 7

6-7 hours/11.5 miles hiking, with 670' elevation gain and 2,984' elevation loss

Day 8

6 hours/11 miles hiking, with 2,905' elevation gain and 1,482' elevation loss

Day 10

5-6 hours/9.9 miles hiking to 10,205' with 2,925' elevation gain and 1,812' elevation loss

Day 11

5 hours/6.4 miles hiking to 11,050' with 1,134' elevation gain and 2,306' elevation loss

Day 12

5 hours/8.4 miles hiking with 295' elevation gain and 624' elevation loss

Accommodations


Camps in pristine settings along the way and a full-service hotel as the bookend, featuring an outdoor pool and spa to enjoy before and after the expedition.

MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound
MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Northbound

We supply all camping and commissary gear, including tents and sleeping pads. We encourage clients to bring their own sleeping bag, rated to 15 degrees in the 2-3 pound range. We encourage this because everyone sleeps differently, some need a really warm bag, others not so much thus having your own will ensure more comfort than renting. We also provide a crazy creek chair for every trip member. Previous camping experience is required for this trip! Guides will assist clients with their tents on the first night, but then it is up to the clients to set up their tents after that.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Fresno Yosemite Airport
Fairfield Inn & Suites Fresno Yosemite Airport

Conveniently located two blocks from Fresno Yosemite airport, the Fairfield Inn is clean and modern, and offers all the amenities necessary to rest and recharge on your MT Sobek adventure. The hotel boasts a 24-hour fitness center, heated outdoor pool, in-house restaurant for breakfast, and local restaurant delivery service for dinner. Each room features complimentary Wifi, a flat screen Smart TV for streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, comfortable bedding, electronics dock, coffee maker and microwave.

Weather


We will be camping at 9,000-10,000', and there can be snow on the ground. Daytime temperatures are 65-85°F and 20-35°F at night.

 
Jul
Aug
Ansel Adams Wilderness 
High
Low
High
Low
Ansel Adams Wilderness
60
26
60
25
Sierra National Forest 
High
Low
High
Low
Sierra National Forest
80
65
79
63
Yosemite National Park 
High
Low
High
Low
Yosemite National Park
90
46
90
55

FAQs


What do I have to carry on this trip?

You only carry your daypack the entire way. Mules & guides will carry 15 pounds of each guest\'s gear and you are responsible for carrying any weight over this.

Does this trip include Mount Whitney?

This itinerary does not include the climb of Mount Whitney. If you are interested in the "southbound" half that does include the climb, see our award-winning trip John Muir Trail: Southbound to Mount Whitney.

How is water treatment handled on this trip?

We supply water filters on this trip. Although the water in the Sierra is renowned for its cleanliness, we still take precautions. You are responsible for filtering your own daily water.

What are the toilet procedures?

We provide everything needed for a comfortable wilderness toilet experience. Certain "Leave No Trace" practices apply, and your guide will go over this as part of the camp orientation.

What can I expect from my guide?

All our professional mountain guides are trained in wilderness medicine at the professional level and are experienced backcountry leaders. They are well versed in the natural and cultural history of the area, cook excellent food, and are fun, personable people to spend time with.

What are my duties while on this camping trip?

You are responsible for setting up and taking down your own tent, packing your personal gear, and filtering your own water. Our guides are always available to assist. Other camp chores such as cooking, cleaning, hauling water, etc. are left to the guides.

What happens if the weather conditions are bad?

MT Sobek is proud to offer trips in protected wilderness settings.

As with any backcountry adventure, unforeseen natural events can impact your trip, including extreme weather conditions, snow levels and wildfires. As your health and safety are paramount, our expert guides and office staff will respond to these natural occurrences accordingly which may result in canceling, redirecting or shortening the trip.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Guest Reviews


"MT Sobek offers the highest quality trips to the most adventurous locations and we trust their experience, knowledge and record. Can't wait to book again."

Helen S.
MT Sobek Guest, California John Muir Trail Northbound to Yosemite Trek

"Absolutely outstanding trip - gorgeous scenery, very well organized, knowledgeable & friendly guides. Hiking is very challenging but manageable if you prepare as instructed."

Kimberly T.
MT Sobek Guest, California John Muir Trail Northbound to Yosemite Trek