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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today take the free airport shuttle to the terminal to catch your flight, which can be scheduled to depart at any time.
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.
Expert MT Sobek guides entertain with in-depth knowledge of local flora, fauna and legends about the great explorers who first blazed these trails.
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.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"The JMT Northbound was as beautiful and challenging as I hoped it would be!"
MT Sobek Guest, John Muir Trail: Northbound to Yosemite
"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."
MT Sobek Guest, John Muir Trail: Northbound to Yosemite