The John Muir Trail

23 days
Walking & Trekking
Activity level:
Activity Rating - Tough/Tough+
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Walking & Trekking
Max group size:

Hike the USA's finest trail through the stunning California mountains

One of the finest hikes in North America, the John Muir Trail won't disappoint. Hike your way from south to north, cross through three national parks, follow the rugged spine of California's High Sierra and hike the highest peak in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney. Climb over 13,000ft passes, wander beneath high alpine peaks and traverse beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. The spectacular scenery is combined with the clement weather of California and warm summer temperatures. For all participants this will be a trip of a lifetime and one to be remembered for years to come. 


  • One of the most famous hikes in America offering challenging and strenuous back-country hiking
  • Climb to the summit of the highest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney
  • Traverse 13,000ft passes through California's stunning mountain country
  • Wander beneath high alpine peaks, hike beautiful meadows and forested river valleys
  • Professional certified mountain guides with wilderness first aid certification
  • 22 breakfasts, 22 lunches and 22 dinners
  • Trailhead shuttle at both ends of the trip
  • Porter or mule supported supply drops during the trip
  • All necessary hiking permits

Key information

  • Once-in-a-lifetime trip on America's famous John Muir Trail
  • 8 to 15 miles covered per day; total of 207 miles covered
  • 22 nights basic camping in the back-country, at altitude
  • Group maximum of 10, plus leader. 
  • Expert hiking guides (1:5 ratio)
  • Maximum luggage weight is 20kg
  • Countries visited: USA

What's included

  • All accommodation 
  • 22 breakfasts, 22 lunches and 22 dinners
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leaders throughout
  • We can include flights from the UK.  Please contact us for a quote.

What's not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3943
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Days of Walking & Trekking
Day by day breakdown
Days 1-13 155.0km/96.0miles
Days 14-20 124.0km/77.0miles
Days 21-23 55.0km/34.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Responsible Tourism on the John Muir Trail...
We spend a significant amount of time in Yosemite National Park on this tour, the included entrance fee helps to preserve the status and upkeep of the park on a continued and sustainable basis. Interaction with national park rangers helps to preserve this role as an employment opportunity for local people and future generations Our tour guides will educate travellers on how best to interact with the wildlife in the parks, for example advising people not to feed the animals to stop them becoming dependent on hand-outs from humans. They will also advise all groups to keep to the path to avoid upsetting the balance of nature.


Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes
  • Days 1-13

    SECTION ONE: Cottonwood - Big Pete Meadow

    This segment includes several high passes and stays close to the Sierra Crest. After climbing Mt. Whitney, you travel through the wide open alpine valley of Upper Basin and the trail passes below the fourteen thousand foot peaks of the Palisade region. The passes here are high and steep, but the effort is more than compensated by the incredible scenery. 

    We'll meet in Bishop at the headquarters for a gear check, then a shuttle to the Horseshoe Meadows Campground. Here we have dinner and an early bed time, to start the process of getting the body adapted to the thin air of 10,000 feet.

    To further aid in our acclimatization Day 1 is a short day, but after this we steadily pick up the pace to Crabtree Meadows and from here climb to the 14,505-foot summit of Mount Whitney. Returning to camp we head north, pick up a resupply coming in over Kearsarge Pass, and then after numerous high passes drop into the deeply incised cleft of Le Conte Canyon. Here we get a resupply brought in by packstock. 

    DAY ONE: Meet in Bishop, do a gear check and shuttle to Horseshoe Meadows.

    DAY EIGHT: Arrive at Bullfrog Lake with a resupply coming in over Kearsarge Pass.

    DAY THIRTEEN: Arrive in Le Conte Canyon and a resupply. From here we head north to Little Pete Meadow.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 14-20

    SECTION TWO: Big Pete Meadow - Reds Meadow

    After our re-supply on Day 13 we head north to Little Pete Meadow. This next section takes you into the heart of the mountains. From Le Conte Canyon, we cross Muir Pass and enter the stunningly beautiful high alpine area of Evolution Valley. We drop in the San Joaquin River drainage, staying well to the west of the main Sierra Crest, pass Lake Thomas Edison before climbing up onto the Silver Divide. We briefly touch an outpost of ‘civilization’ at Reds Meadow, where our next resupply arrives along with lunch. Those doing Section two only leave from Reds Meadow via vehicle. 

    DAY SIXTEEN: A short side trip to Muir Ranch to pick up a resupply.
    DAY TWENTY: Arrive at Reds Meadow north of Mammoth. Here we pick up our re-supply, and head north to camp at Johnston Meadow

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 21-23

    SECTION THREE: Reds Meadow - Tuolumne

    For many people, this is the most beautiful section of the trip. Being trail hardened and carrying lighter packs, we may finish the final section quickly and efficiently. After leaving Reds Meadow we camp at Johnston Meadow. We skirt the beautiful Garnet and well named Thousand Island Lakes before dropping into Rush Creek and then cross Donohue Pass, our last one. Lyell Canyon is long but nearly flat, and ending at Tuolumne Meadows, you’ll get a well-deserved rest.

    DAY TWENTY-THREE: Arrive Tuolumne Meadows

    Please note, this trip can change due to permitting issues, should this occur any amendments will be advised prior to travel. It is not recommended to fly out the night the tour finishes in case of unexpected delays.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info


United States

British, New Zealand, Swiss and most EU passport holders do not need a visa (and enter the country under the Visa Waiver Program), provided they are in possession of an onward air ticket when entering the USA. Visas for the USA are required by some nationalities and it is always best to check with the relevant embassies. All passengers travelling to and from the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are required to hold a machine-readable passport (MRP). A MRP has the holder's personal details, e.g. name, date of birth, nationality and their passport number contained in two lines of text at the base of the photo page. This text may be read by machine. The US now charges $14 for the visa waiver program and must be paid by credit card. The US authorities have introduced a mandatory requirement for all passengers travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme to register for an Electronic Travel Authority. As of 21 January 2016, any person who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationalities of these countries, may no longer qualify for the VWP. For additional specifics about the VWP please consult the VWP information on the U.S. Embassy London website. More information and all necessary Internet links can be found on our USA visas page.


United States

There are no mandatory vaccinations required for this trip.

Eating and Drinking

22 breakfasts, 22 lunches, 22 dinners are included

We do our best to cater to different dietary needs. However, if you have a significant food allergy or medical condition that requires strict adherence to a dietary regime we may not be able to fully accommodate you. The guide is unable to prepare a number of different meals each night for a number of different needs. Bishop is very limited in shopping options and much lightweight food may contain a variety of allergens. We will have to ask you to bring some of your own favourite items for supplies and to provide specific dietary needs.

Outside of the three included meals per day whilst hiking, you should bring energy snacks and drink sachets such as coffee, hot chocolate, tea with you which can be split between the food resupply stops. It is important you bring these with you on day one, in clear bags with your name clearly marked on to avoid confusion.


There will be four food resupplies on this tour. These resupplies will be brought in by either porters, mules, or vehicles, depending on the location. Below you will find the number of days in each section between resupplies, the location, and instructions on how to label your items. Your resupply will consist of your personal snacks, powdered drinks, clean socks, medications, batteries, and a clean t-shirt; all of which you provide. Each resupply should not weigh more than 2lbs. Guides will review your personal resupplies at the office the first day we meet to finalise each drop. Once on the trail, you will be able to “return” dirty clothes to the office to be available at pick up the final day.

On the first day of the journey, you will be picked up at your accommodation in either Bishop or Mammoth Lakes and shuttle you to the office for a gear check. We will meet around 11.00 am and be busy all morning at the office clarifying resupply needs, finalising personal gear, and distributing group gear. You will have six days of personal snacks and powdered drinks in your pack when we meet, which you provide. You will purchase lunch in Bishop and after lunch, we will drive two hours to the Cottonwood Campground. You will be provided with dinner and all meals from now until you return to Bishop or Mammoth on day 23, though you are to use these resupplies to supplement each drop.

Resupply days and locations: Place resupplies in a gallon zip lock bags. Put your name and resupply dates/location on each resupply bag a permanent marker. We will collect your resupplies at the beginning of the trip. You should arrive with four resupply bags. The Muir Trail Ranch resupply must be sent a month in advance as per the Ranch’s’ policy, so we will have already sent in a resupply for Muir Ranch. You will be asked to specify your requests for the Muir Trail Ranch resupply before the trip. For the resupplies, you should have enough snack food to sustain you between breakfast to lunch and lunch to dinner. Don’t go overboard on your selection. A couple of Clif Bars, beef jerky, candy bars or a bit of trail mix each day will suffice.

Day 1 Starting the trip

You need six days of snacks and drinks packed into your pack to start off with.

Day 8 Resupply 1: Kearsarge
You need six days of snacks and drinks packed into bags, labelled and left behind in the head office on day one.

Day 13 Resupply 2: Little Pete Meadow 

You need three days of snacks and drinks packed into bags, labelled and left behind in the head office on day one.

Day 16 Resupply 3: Muir Ranch.

You need four days of snacks and drinks. This resupply is packed and sent in advance no later than one month prior to departure. It is your responsibility to pro-actively advise us before this date of your preferences, otherwise we will select for you based on previous customers choices. We can provide the following items for your individual Muir Trail Ranch resupply so let us know a month before the start of the trip your needs for this resupply. Please specify how many of each item you would like for the four days of this section.

At this resupply, we cannot take out socks, t-shirts, underwear etc or bring in new items unless they arrive at the office a month in advance. Please let us know by asap, your selection for Muir Ranch Resupply.
• Coffee/Tea/Hot Chocolate
• Clif Bars
• Jerky-beef or turkey Trail Mix
• Candy Bars? What kind do you like?

If you have allergies please note them again, and ensure that any medications or special items you would need for this section go into resupply two.

Day 20 Resupply 4 Location: Red’s Meadow

You need three days of snacks and drinks packed into bags, labelled and left behind in the head office on day one.

Is this trip for you?

This tour has been graded Level 8: Tough/Tough+

The John Muir Trail is one of the finest hikes to be found anywhere in the world. It may be a strenuous hike but the scenery is something out of this world and is best enjoyed on foot.

The route starts in Cottonwood Pass, out of Lone Pine and continues north after an ascent of the highest point of the lower forty eight states, Mount Whitney, some two hundred miles ending at Tuolumne Meadows. Along the way it climbs over 13,000ft passes, wanders beneath high alpine peaks, and traverses beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. The spectacular scenery is combined with the generally clement weather of California and warm summer temperatures.

You need to be in good shape for the trip. This does not mean you need to be marathon fit. The days will be long and steady. The most important thing is endurance and the ability to deal with whatever happens. This is a long and hard trip. You do need to be in appropriate shape for it and you do need to train. Do not think that you will get in shape on the first few days of the trip. Come prepared both physically and mentally and you will have a good time. The first few days of the trip are a shakedown and the guides will be evaluating hikers and ensuring that they have the stamina to complete the entire journey.


This trip is a backcountry tour and you’re responsible for carrying your own luggage as well as a share of the camping equipment and food (there are no support mules except for supply drops). You should arrive with no more than 25-30 pounds and up to 10 pounds of group gear will be given to you to carry, making this a total of 40 pounds. High quality meals are included the entire time you’re on the trail. You should expect to cover 8 to 15 miles a day.

We are allowing 23 days for the complete trip and you will have four food drops so packs are not too heavy. You should be carrying a maximum of 6 days food at any one time. Below is a tentative itinerary for the 23 days you’re on the trail. There are a number of variables which can change this schedule such as weather, minor injury or simply your guides deciding the group needs a rest day. For this reason, the actual camps are certain to vary. The itinerary below is designed to provide you with a general outline of the route. Please be flexible and adapt to inevitable changes which can occur.

Numbered days refer to significant logistical events during the trip. Due to the difficulties of trying to map out every day of a long journey such as this, individual days have been omitted from the itinerary. Please accept and expect changes to this itinerary!

As this tour is permit restricted, early booking is advised to avoid missing out.

IMPORTANT: Once you have booked this tour, there are four things you need to ensure we have. You will not be able to join this tour without sending this information through to the head office.

  • Doctors release form to confirm that you appear fit enough to hike up to 14,494ft, your sales consultant will email this to you.
  • Completed medical form which your sales consultant will email you
  •  Hotel details for the Mammoth Lakes area so we can arrange your hotel pickup/drop off at the start/end of the tour
  • Your preferred snack choices for Muir Trail Ranch resupply (see food section)

Bears: We have a number of people from overseas or those unfamiliar with being in bear country. Do not panic too much about the bears. They are something to deal with but are not aggressive and are a part of the back-country experience. We generally have no encounters with them at all and often hikers leave a little let down not to have even seen one beating a hasty retreat. To quote John Muir in 1898; “In my first interview with a Sierra bear we were frightened and embarrassed, both of us, but the bear’s behaviour was better than mine”

Although each tour follows an itinerary, there is a certain amount of flexibility and from time to time your tour guides may suggest changes. Flexibility is key and often a side diversion will be a highlight of the tour. Hikes cannot be guaranteed and may vary depending on ability, group interest, local weather conditions and time of year.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3943
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Camping on the John Muir Trail

Campsites on this tour are basic in nature so please don’t be under any illusion that they will be up to the same standard that you may be used to. You will sleep in high quality tents which single travellers share with another passenger of the same sex.

Please respect your fellow campers who are there to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of camping. We anticipate that you will be so tired after a full day of hiking, you will more than likely fall asleep after dinner.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3943
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

Dates & Prices

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

Fields with * are mandatory.

Please call one of our experts to discuss your private group requirements on 0203 993 4668, or fill out the form below and we will give you a call back.

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

Fields with * are mandatory.

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

It is advisable to book a room the night before your trip to help acclimatize and gather anything you have forgotten to bring. For anyone leaving from the UK we would be pleased to book your flight in conjunction with your tour.

Please contact us for competitive prices on flights departing from most UK airports.

Trips you might also like

Western Explorer

21 reviews

Visit five breathtaking National Parks in the USA

Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Ages: 16+
12 Days from £3,599
Guided (Excl. Flights)
View More Details