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California John Muir Trail Northbound to Yosemite Trek

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- 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.

  • 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

Arrive:

Fresno, California

Depart:

Fresno, California

Duration:

13 Days

Activity Level:

5

Departures:

See Dates

Price: from $7,895

  • Arrive in Fresno, California

    Day 1

    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.

    Accommodation: DoubleTree by Hilton

    Conveniently located in near a variety of entertainment and dining options, this DoubleTree is clean, modern, and offers all the amenities necessary to rest and recharge on an MT Sobek adventure. With several national parks within driving distance, the hotel boasts a fitness center, heated pool, atrium, in-house restaurant, bar, and café. Each room features a flat screen HDTV, comfortable bedding, electronics dock, and room service from 6am-10pm.

    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 6.2 miles with a 400-ft elevation gain to the junction of the John Muir Trail at the Sallie Keyes cut-off.

    Accommodation: 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.

    Activity: 3-4 hours/6.2 miles hiking with 400' elevation gain

    Transportation: 3-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Hike Over Selden Pass to Rosemarie Meadow

    Day 3

    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.

    Accommodation: 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.

    Activity: 5-6 hours/10 miles hiking to 10,880' with 3,555' elevation gain

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Descend to Mono Creek

    Day 4

    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.

    Accommodation: 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.

    Activity: 6 hours/11 miles hiking to 7,870' with 3,010' 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

    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.

    Activity: 4-6 hours/8 miles hiking to 10,880' with 3,010' elevation gain

    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 (9,600'). 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.

    Accommodation: 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.

    Activity: 6-7 hours/11 miles hiking to 9,600' with 1,280' 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 natural hot spring-fed shower.

    Accommodation: 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.

    Activity: 6-7 hours/11.5 miles hiking to 7,580' with 2,020' 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

    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.

    Activity: 6 hours/11 miles hiking to 8,750 with 1,223' elevation gain

    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

    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.

    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

    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.

    Activity: 5-6 hours/10 miles hiking to 10,205' with 1,455' elevation gain

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Meet the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River

    Day 11

    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.

    Accommodation: 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.

    Activity: 8 hours/12 miles hiking to 11,050' with 845' elevation gain

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • End the Trek and Return to Fresno

    Day 12

    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.

    Accommodation: DoubleTree by Hilton

    Conveniently located in near a variety of entertainment and dining options, this DoubleTree is clean, modern, and offers all the amenities necessary to rest and recharge on an MT Sobek adventure. With several national parks within driving distance, the hotel boasts a fitness center, heated pool, atrium, in-house restaurant, bar, and café. Each room features a flat screen HDTV, comfortable bedding, electronics dock, and room service from 6am-10pm.

    Activity: 3 hours/6 miles hiking with 2,431 elevation loss

    Transportation: 4-hour shuttle & private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Depart Fresno

    Day 13

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

    Accommodation:

California John Muir Trail Northbound to Yosemite Trek

Detailed Itinerary

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What to Expect

 

Why take this trip with us?

Reason #01

This epic trek is aided by full mule support to allow for greater ease on the trail and to traverse this beautiful landscape as many pioneers of California's historical past have done.

Reason #02

Expert MT Sobek guides entertain with in-depth knowledge of local flora, fauna and legends about the great explorers who first blazed these trails.

Reason #03

MT Sobek's legacy of preservation and protection enables us to operate in over 30 Global National Park adventures. Stewardship and collaboration with National Parks allows for us to contribute to accessibility of these Federally protected resources.

Meet your guides

Fred Ackerman

Fred Ackerman

Fred enjoyed his first backpacking trip in college, walking 20+ miles in inappropriate footwear and spent a few cold nights in front of the fire without a sleeping bag, and caught the bug from there. Soon, he was spending most of his free time and some not-so-free time plotting and executing adventures to the endless wild places of California. Fred is now 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. Fred's familiarity of the High Sierra and deep passion for the backcountry consistently endears him to MT Sobek hikers.

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 passion 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 which endear him to MT Sobek travelers.

Sierra Zacks

Sierra Zacks

Sierra was born and raised on the entrance road to Joshua Tree National Park and spent her early years hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding in the park and the nearby high Sierra. She went on to graduate from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Ecology and Plant Biology. During this period, she worked UC Santa Cruz's Adventure Outings Department where she led climbing, backpacking, and river trips. She now spends her summers in the High Sierra leading trips and exploring the beautiful landscape. In her free time you can find her rock climbing, botanizing, or birdwatching in the mountains.

Activities

Strenuous hikes with elevation changes up to 3,555' paired with stunning scenery, dining and camping outdoors, and time to unwind and take it all in.

Lodging

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.

Climate

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.

FAQ

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 and shower 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. One 5-gallon solar shower will provide some warm water for washing/showering up.

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.

  • 2021
  • Go Custom

2021

Scheduled Dates

Additional costs

  • $500 Single Supplement

Price Includes

  • Expert leadership from experienced adventure guides
  • Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • Meals as noted in the daily itinerary
  • Potable water and snacks throughout
  • All tips and gratuities for support staff with the exception of your lead adventure guide(s)
  • All necessary camping gear
  • All group entrance fees, activities, and ground transportation
  • Arrival and departure airport transfer if staying at starting and ending hotel

Price does not include

  • International airfare, any airport taxes, or excess baggage charges
  • Optional tips to your lead adventure guides
  • Personal expenses such as medical immunizations, phone calls, laundry, or souvenirs
  • Airport transfers if not staying at the starting and ending hotel
  • Optional travel protection

Contact An Expert

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