John Muir Trail: Southbound to Mount Whitney

Overview

Venture out on this exclusive trekking expedition set in the high Sierra Nevada, covering the southern half of the 212-mile-long John Muir Trail, from Lake Florence southward Mount Whitney (14,505'), the highest peak in the continental United States. On this fully supported epic trip along what National Geographic Adventure claims as one of the "top ten trails on the planet," camp along mountain lakes, traverse mountain passes, and marvel at wildflower-dotted meadows. Once you've hiked the trail's southern part, be inspired to come back to tackle the northern half!

  • Hike through the Sierra Nevada most scenic wilderness trails on this exclusive MT Sobek expedition

  • Enjoy views of stunning mountain peaks and wildflower-dotted meadows --
    California's High Sierra at its finest

  • Finish in style by summiting Mount Whitney, the continental United States' highest peak, at 14,505 feet

  • Arrive: Fresno, California
  • Depart: Fresno, California
  • Duration: 17 Days
  • Group Size: 6-11 Guests
  • Minimum Age: 15 Years Old

Itinerary

  • Day01

    Arrive in Fresno, California

    Arrive in Fresno, California, to check in at the Piccadilly Inn Airport Hotel adjacent to the Fresno air terminal by 5pm. At 6pm, join the guides for a welcome dinner and orientation talk; do the final gear check and discuss the details of the trip.

  • Day02

    Follow the South Fork of the San Joaquin River

    Meet at 7am after breakfast, then drive about three hours to Florence Lake where you 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'). Today's mild acclimatizing hike goes 6.3 miles through lush meadows following the South Fork of the San Joaquin River. There is a 500-foot elevation gain along the way to the camp on the San Joaquin River.

    • Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp-John Muir Trail Southbound
    • Activity: 3-4 hours/6.3 miles hiking with 500' elevation gain
    • Transportation: 3-hour private van transfer & ferry ride
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day03

    Hike from Piute Creek to Goddard Canyon

    Continue the acclimatization process with another "easy" day on the trail. From Piute Creek, hike 6.2 miles of relatively flat terrain to the junction of the South Fork of the San Joaquin River and Goddard Canyon. Get a good night's sleep here in preparation for the ascent into the famous Evolution Canyon.

  • Day04

    Reach Evolution Lake

    Today's hike is approximately seven miles with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet into what some call the most spectacular portion of the trail. After a climb out of the river canyon, enter Evolution and then McClure Meadows. In this section the trail parallels Evolution Creek, which teems with golden trout. Camp at the spectacular Evolution Lake (10,852'), a gorgeous deep-blue lake that's one of the prettiest spots in the Sierra.

  • Day05

    Descend into LeConte Canyon

    From your camp at the very edge of the tree line, climb over Muir Pass (11,955'), taking a rest at the 75-year-old stone hut at the crest of the pass. Then descend on rocky terrain into LeConte Canyon (8,735'), with its impressive vertical walls of granite. Here, meet the first food drop on the trip.

  • Day06

    Head for Mather Pass & Camp at Palisades Lakes

    On the way out of LeConte canyon, pass through Grouse Meadow and follow the Middle Fork of the Kings River. At the junction with Palisades Creek, turn east and begin the climb toward Mather Pass (12,100'). After tackling the Golden Staircase, camp short of the pass at Palisades Lakes (10,600') after approximately 9.5 miles.

  • Day07

    Climb Mather Pass & Reach South Fork of the Kings River

    From Palisades Lakes tackle Mather Pass (12,100') and then descend through the Upper Basin, losing some 2,000 feet before reaching the South Fork of the Kings River. Stay on the Kings River tonight, enjoying the sounds of the gurgling river.

  • Day08

    Tackle Pinchot Pass & Descend to Crater Mountain Plateau

    Today hike up to the Marjorie Lakes area, a glacier-scoured basin of stark beauty. Enjoy the dazzling scenery of pristine mountain lakes before tackling Pinchot Pass (12,130'). Descend to the Crater Mountain plateau for the night.

  • Day09

    Hike Up to Arrowhead Lake

    Today head down into the Woods Creek basin (8,500'), across the "Golden Gate of the Sierra" suspension bridge, and then back up to Arrowhead Lake (10,300'), where you camp.

  • Day10

    Ascend Glenn Pass and Hike to Center Basin

    Continue the journey by passing through the Rae Lakes Basin. Next ascend the rocky switchbacks of Glenn Pass (11,978'), followed by a descent to Vidette Meadow where you meet the second food drop. Continue to Center Basin, hiking amidst the stark beauty of huge precipitous ridges.

  • Day11

    Face Forester Pass, the Highest On the JMT

    At first light, head up the highest pass on the JMT (as well as the entire Pacific Crest Trail, for that matter) - the Forester Pass at 13,180'. From Forester descend to Tyndall Creek, passing the Diamond Mesa on the way. Make camp below the awesome Mount Whitney Massif.

  • Day12

    Hike to Wallace Creek

    Today is a shorter day, featuring a hike that goes 5 miles from Tyndall Creek to Wallace Creek. At this scenic spot, enjoy a lazy afternoon resting in a meadow and playing in the creek.

  • Day13

    Ascend to Guitar Lake Camp

    Today hike past Crabtree Meadow before ascending gradually to the campsite at Guitar Lake below the Mount Whitney Massif. Once at Guitar Lake, you realize you are now truly at the base of the Eastern Sierra with Mt. Whitney looming over you. You are given ample time to prepare and relax for your summit bid early tomorrow morning.

  • Day14

    Attempt the Summit of Mount Whitney

    Today take off early (at 4am) for the "high" point of the entire trip: a walk-up summit attempt of Mount Whitney (14,495'), the highest peak in the contiguous United States. You have worked hard to get on top, and now is the time to enjoy the 360 degree view that the highest peak in the Continental US affords you. The day's hike is 13 miles roundtrip back to Lower Crabtree Meadow.

  • Day15

    Meander Crabtree Meadows to Rock Creek

    Today is a leisurely day in terms of terrain: lose 2,000 feet in elevation and then gain 1,900 feet (net gain of only 100 feet) as you meander through Crabtree Meadows on the way to the last night's camp at Rock Creek.

  • Day16

    Pass Golden Trout Wilderness & Rest in Lone Pine

    The last day on the trail is a long one. Head up from Rock Creek over Cottonwood Pass (11,200'). Have a snack around Chicken Spring Lake on the way out of the Sequoia National Park for the last few miles through the Golden Trout Wilderness. It's 10 miles to the trailhead where picnic lunch awaits, as does the shuttle for a short drive to the nearby Eastern Sierra town of Lone Pine, California, home for the night. After a well-deserved shower, rendezvous for a final dinner.

    • Accommodation: Best Western Frontier Motel
    • Activity: 5-6 hours/10 miles hiking to 11,200' with 7,470' elevation loss
    • Transportation: 20-minute shuttle transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day17

    Travel Home

    After a good night's rest and breakfast on your own, depart early with the private shuttle back around the Sierra. The drive back to the starting point, Fresno airport, takes 5 to 6 hours. To build in any unforeseen road delays, plan your flights for the early afternoon, starting after 3pm.

    • Transportation: 6-hour private van transfer
Want to extend your adventure?
Contact our Regional Specialists for more travel ideas!

Upcoming Departures

View More Departure Dates
From: $7,795.00 What's Included?
17 Days
Book This Trip Build your own

Got Questions?
Speak with an expert.

Tanya Rao

MT Sobek Regional Specialist

1.888.831.7526CallEmail

John Muir Trail: Southbound to Mount Whitney Map

Open Map

Why take this trip with us?

Reason #01

MT Sobek adventurers have claimed this trekking expedition to be the company's most challenging. It sells out every year!

Reason #02

This award-winning adventure features 24-hour expertise of professional mountaineer guides who teach you about trailside lore, flora and fauna.

Reason #03

Hikers traverse the Sierra with the support of a professional packer and mules that transport heavy backpacks and move camp.

Meet Our Guides

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.

What To Expect

  • Activities

    Challenging hikes up to 13 miles per day on mountain trails with high ridges, rocky switchbacks, and spectacular scenery. Summit Mount Whitney at 14,495 feet!

  • Lodging

    We supply all camping and commissary gear, including tents and sleeping pads. You are expected to set up your tent, filter water, etc. Well-appointed hotels bookend the trip.

  • Climate

    Average daytime temperatures are 65-85°F and 15-35°F at night. Like many mountainous regions, storms that bring rain and snow can hit at any time.

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 client's gear and you are responsible for carrying any weight over this.

  • What section on the John Muir Trail do we hike?

    You will hike the second "half" of the actual John Muir Trail, in what is considered the Southern Sierra. (The entire John Muir Trail runs from Yosemite down to Mt. Whitney).

  • 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.

  • How is water treatment handled on this trip?

    We supply water filters on this trip. Water in the Sierra is renowned for its cleanliness, but we still take precautions. As a trip participant you are responsible for filtering your own daily water.

  • 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 folks. 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.

Dates & Pricing

Pricing Dates

Scheduled Dates

Customize Your Trip

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!

Book This Trip Customize A Trip
2019
$7,795.00 Price per person

Additional Cost

  • $550.00 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 airport transfer if staying at starting hotel and departure day group airport transfer

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare, any airport taxes, or excess baggage charges
  • Wine or beer
  • Optional tips to your lead adventure guides
  • Personal expenses such as medical immunizations, phone calls, laundry, or souvenirs
  • Airport transfer if departing outside of the group transfer
  • Optional travel protection

Testimonials

  • "I've taken six MT Sobek trips and they have all exceeded my expectations. The staff, the food, the logistics and the communications have always been exceptional. Thank you for being my "go to" adventure travel company!"

    Margaret I.

    MT Sobek Guest

  • "I've been on quite a number of long high altitude hikes on 5 continents. This was the best equipped, best organized, best provisioned and best led of all of them."

    Margaret M.

    MT Sobek Guest, John Muir Trail: Southbound to Mount Whitney

Newsletter Sign-Up

Be the first to hear about exciting new adventures, last minute trip opportunities, special events and more.

Sign Up

Contact a Regional Specialist

Do you have any questions? Need help picking your next adventure? An expert is always here to help.

1.888.831.7526 Live Chat
sharebed twinbed fullsizebed