You mean the kind where bears and mountain lions eat you?
You mean the kind where bears and mountain lions eat you?
I love this post but I would love to know more about HOW to hike amazing locations like the John Muir Trail when there is so much red tape!!! I feel like every trail I research hiking has incredibly frustrating and complicated rules about permits and limit on campsites and figuring it all out is driving me absolutely crazy, especially when I try to book the permits I want and it's too late, it is already booked solid and I can't do it. Ugh.
The JMT is your ticket to endless views like this, though the landscape is slightly different once you leave Yosemite proper. There are bigger alpine mountains, more lakes, and less dense forest. It's just as epic.
For stuff shorter than the JMT, the Sequoia / Kings Canyon National Park backcountry is incredible with easy access. I'd suggest you look into Rae Lakes Loop. The beautiful views are highly concentrated, just like Yosemite Valley, expect remote and tourist-less.
👇 The JMT takes you through the heart of ALL the Sierra granite, including all the national parks there: Sequia, Kings and Yosemite. That's why it's so special. And the SEQKI backcountry is by far the most remote area of the Sierra.
Exactly 😜 That's why those places are so epic.
But in all seriousness you're more likely to be killed in a car crash to/from the mountains.
That indeed is the tragedy of the JMT in the last few years. It's so popular that it takes years to get permits, kinda like rafting the Grand Canyon. However, if you are persistent, you will get a permit.
No permits needed if you do it in the winter with nearly inevitable avalanches and subzero temps. Some crazy people have, not just the JMT but the whole PCT (the JMT is a subset of the PCT).
Ugh. I wish someone would design a great app or website that brings together all this great info for all of these outdoor backpacking routes and information and booking so that it's all centralized and in one place. Like a third-party booker. You just type in the area you want to go backpacking in and filter for distance, difficulty, etc. Then it serves up the possible routes, all the info for those routes, and you can book permits right there through the site. It would be amazing.
Such a great idea!
Getting permits for Sierra backpacking trips is painfully difficult right now. My biggest nitpick is that almost every single wilderness requires permit pickup from ranger stations in obscure areas. Often times you lose a full day of backpacking because you have to travel there during business hours to pick up the permit. Some now offer night box pickup, which is nice.
The Desolation Wilderness has the best permitting process of them all. They allow for internet permit registration and let you print the permit at home. But no camp fires 😢
I haven't done it, but I hear the Lost Coast Trail is very remote. 25 miles. I'm not sure how much of that is road free.
Hmmm. I need to learn how to link a web photo in a post.
Herb, you can just upload a photo directly to Cake. Unfortunately there isn't a way to show a linked photo that I know of.
Never been, but I keep hearing that it's a wonderful adventure that I need to do.
I've done Point Reyes National Seashore. Oh so lush!
Many times, I will use photos from Google to illustrate a point, not having a photo of my own. So I guess I need to save internet photos to my hard drive, upload them into my post, then delete them from my computer.
I was just reading about another trail: the High Sierra Trail. Its general direction of travel runs perpendicular to the JMT, and crosses the Sierra instead of paralleling the summit. It's much shorter than the JMT, only 50 miles, but it has less red tape and is a major journey because you pass over the major subranges of the Sierra. You can easlily get permits a few months out, unlike the JMT where you might have to wait years to get one.
It's also the road (trail) much less traveled. If you don't like crowds this could be a good start. I want to try it in September.
We backpack in the eastern Sierra every year and have never crossed a road. There are endless loops that are incredible. Check out South Lake to North lake Loop out of Bishop, considered one of the quintessential trails in the Sierra. You can approach the eastern Sierra through many different drainages off 395. There are so many options. As far a long one-way trails, the JMT is epic. There is also a high Sierra trail that is less active.
There are many options that are not the JMT and easier to arrange. You can get permits online or half the permits are held for same day release at the ranger stations. We often go the station in an area we are interested in, get a permit that is available and go exploring for a few days. These have been great trips. JMT is actually quite a busy route in the Sierra. Others are much less travelled. One of our favorites has been South Lake to North Lake out of Bishop. We also really enjoyed exploring Shadow Lake, Ediza Lake, Garnett Lake, etc out of Mammoth. This year we are doing the high country (lake Italy, etc) out of Pine Creek trail head. We don't have any set plans, just will go exploring for 6 days. I hope you get out there. The eastern Sierra is spectacular and considered among the best backpacking in the world.
Agreed, JMT is very busy by its nature of being an extremely long through hike. However, it's entirely possible to piece together a route as long as the JMT through various Sierra wildernesses without much overlap on the JMT.
In terms of crowds, you might want to check out Emigrant and/or Carson Iceberg Wilderness. For some reason, I've found these to be much less busy than other Sierra backpacking areas despite its extreme beauty. Maybe it's the names of the wildernesses that deter people. I've gone for a week with only seeing three parties in the peak month of July.
The South Lake is by far my favorite hike in the Eastern Sierras. Our friend recommended it highly and we were blown away by the scenic views at every corner. I finally put together a quick story of our hike - South Lake to Bishop Pass
OK, if you liked that, you have to do the full South Lake to North Lake loop. It is considered the best loop in the Sierra. 28 lakes, 5 rivers, 3 passes. Just incredible. Highly recco.
I just learned of the SHR, the Sierra High Route, which parallels the JMT, but much of it is cross country. Had no idea such a route has is established. I think it might be more epic / beautiful than it's tame counterpart, the JMT.
I am pretty sure the West Coast Trail doesn't cross any roads, and 75km (47mi) is pretty long in my books.