Looking for a great trail in John Muir Wilderness, California? AllTrails has 63 great hiking trails, running trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Gearing up for a challenge? There are 38 hard trails in John Muir Wilderness ranging from 7.2 to 82.3 miles and from 4,606 to 14,235 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

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I hiked this trail on October 13th (holiday weekend). I skipped lakes 6, 7 and Summit. 13.2 miles hiked in a total of 5 hours and 30 minutes, where about an hour was spent relaxing at the lakes. BLUF: I enjoyed the hike, but I reduced stars for two main reasons. 1) the lakes don’t have a lot of access space, which has to be frustrating when there are more people and 2) I found the entire north half of the loop incredibly boring. I left the day hike trailhead at sunrise (7 am). The timing was perfect, because I got through the first 4 miles of open space while it was still shaded by the ridge lines. Also, I arrived at the lakes after the last nights campers left and before the next nights campers arrived. I only passed two hikers going the same direction as me. Note, the trail doesn’t always get you down to the lake. For lakes 1-3, you have to scuffle down smaller trails to actually get close to the lake. This adds distance and elevation changes. I highly recommend going CLOCKWISE. This allows you to get to lakes 1-3 early before the others, and they are the most gorgeous. Lake 5 was also pretty. It also allows you to see the prettiest lakes first, and if you find yourself unable to hike farther, you won’t miss out on much if you turn around from there. It would be difficult to enjoy any of these lakes though if I weren’t lucky enough to be one of the few people on the trail that early. I passed a lot of hikers/campers on the way back around noon. Honestly, if I were to go back, I’d skip the north half of the loop entirely. Lake 4 and Black Lake were not at all spectacular. The descent after Black Lake to the trail junction was heinous, exposed, and would’ve been way worse ascending for truly no reward. I’d rather take the south half to lakes 1, 2, 3, and 5, then return the same way, even if it’s the same distance or slightly longer. Be mindful when letting your children or dogs swim in the lakes. They’re very cold, and lake 3 was actually frozen over. My dog had some stiffness issues after jumping in and then walking so far. Bring layers and sunscreen. It was 35 degrees at the trailhead but within a half mile, I shed down to just a long sleeve hiking shirt. I had to put my jacket and gloves back on while stopped at the lakes though.

hiking
2 days ago

Great hike to the second and third lake! Enjoy the fall colors and the cold breeze

I only started hiking in June from being a couch patato for years. I've discovered my passion now and only made it 3 miles in. I have not built up the endurance yet. Next year I hope to make it to the lake without hoping I make it to the parking lot.

Me and my husband just completed our overnight backpacking trip at Big Pine. Breathtaking!!! Both figuratively and literally- the elevation gain really took a toll with a 30 lb pack headed in. Our 6 miles into third lake were all uphill. The incline is the steepest the first 3-4 miles. We took the upper trail on the way up. Around mile 4 is the first lake. We started at 10 am and got to third lake at 3 pm, we took a lot of breaks to catch our breath, snack and enjoy the view. We camped at third lake and we had the whole lake to ourselves. It got very cold at night (30 degrees) and we woke up to the lake frozen over. We decided to head back instead of finishing the loop to take our time, we left our campsite at 9 am, took the lower trail down, and got back to the overnight parking lot at 1230 pm. The lakes were spectacular but the creek, waterfalls, trees, trails, rocks and valley are also amazing, definitely a beautiful trail from start to finish!

I'm not in as good a shape as I used to be so this Trail was pretty strenuous for me. It took a total of about 4 hours up and back with many stops along the way for photography and lunch at Blue Lake at the top. The trail is easily marked and able to follow and right now the colors look to be at Peak for leaf viewing. There are two stream Crossings which extremely icy and treacherous. We ran into about 10 people total on the trail. We started it almost noon and got off the trail at about 4 pm. In the sun it was quite comfortable in the shade I got a bit chilly and we did bring hats and gloves. I was pretty surprised that there was almost zero Wildlife that we saw it except for a bird here or there. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking!

hiking
5 days ago

Beautiful fall foilage! Spent 2 nights 10/10/19. Trail is 2200 ft up to First lake and quite the bum buster but so worth it! Consider the backpackers trailhead as views are grand from the high trail or you can join it early from day use area along the creek. Even if you just hike to the Rangers Cabin the trail is amazing. Water is down at Second and Third lakes. Made it up another 800ft to Fourth/Fifth before pets tired out. Low 20's at night without a breeze, 50's daytime. Mountain Lion scat seen at Fourth Lake no bears.

hiking
5 days ago

What a fun hike to do in the fall! A lot of the aspens were changing colors and the lakes were cold & blue (great place to take a little break). Would love to have traveled further but we’ll be back soon! Definitely apply sunscreen and bring plenty of water as it can be pretty exposed near the pass.

hiking
rocky
5 days ago

Some down trees and over growth almost lead us off trail a few times. Maybe not the best choice for my first ever wildernesses home but it was absolutely beautiful. Many switchbacks and the first half of the trail is a steep ascent up the mountain so buyer beware!

hiking
rocky
6 days ago

hiking
6 days ago

Just finished this trail at 5:43pm on 10/12/19. Just starting to get dark. Beautiful trail with a variety of manzanita, rocks, pine trees, aspen, cottonwood and willows. etc. Went to see the fall colors. Beautiful golden aspens around the lake. We will do this again. God created another masterpiece here.

hiking
6 days ago

Beautiful trail and the fall colors are coming out. We camped ¾ of the way up and it was all good. There’s a campsite at both valentine and sherwin lakes so it’s pretty easy to find a place to put up for the night. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is cause my watch recorded 10.4mi round trip.

well worth the effort. in October your feet stay dry and there are no bugs. however, I would rate the second half of the hike more in the difficult category. not only is it incredibly steep, but it starts to feel like a StairMaster. The lower portion is definitely moderate and a beautiful hike in its own right. I parked in the day use area and round trip to the upper lake and back was 6.3 MI. it will be closer if you park in the pack area as other people have noted. The trail leaves from inside the campground.

hiking
7 days ago

Went on a short backpacking trip from 10/11-10/12/19. Camped at second lake which was beautiful. 1st half of the hike was non-stop uphill. Temperature during the day was great. Got pretty chilly at night even though we came prepared for cold weather. Even in the middle of October there were tons of day hikers and a few backpackers on the trail.

hiking
7 days ago

Great hike....not much elevation gain in truth, but kicked my sea-level butt on the way up. Dogs enjoyed the run, and the swim. Be sure to park at the trailhead parking, not day use....added some unintented distance and time. Still, a great hike with gorgeous scenery...and no bugs!!!

Good hike with amazing views. It is a good time to take it: there are no other people on the trail. Today I saw only two couples after turn to the Ruby Lake.

Beautiful hike past a series of lakes with towering peaks lining the whole way. Best views seemed to be from Heart and Long Lakes (maybe other side of Box lake), while best spot to chill would be be gem lakes. Very cold - my water spout froze within a few minutes of not using it. Foot traffic started to pick up considerably after about 10am (on a Saturday)

backpacking
icy
muddy
7 days ago

We took our kids (10,12,13) and our dog up to Ruby lake. the switchbacks were a bit challenging for our kids, they are not hikers and only one is athletic. Granted they were each caring their own gear. The hike was very short, i'd say it took us 3.5hrs to get up with several stops and lunch. it took us an hour to get down. I would consider this trail heavy traffic we past at least 10 groups on our way down. Our dog did great, we ran into several dogs on the trail. several campsites available, you may have to hike up once you get to the lake, but they are there. Lots of fish, but no catch--we didn't fish for long. It was about 55F in the day and 25F at night, no wind. Ruby was beautiful emerald clear. No bug bites and mosquitos are attracted to two of my kids, so this was a surprise. That alone was worth hiking in the cold. There are parts of the trail that are still icy and muddy.

Beautiful Trail! We hiked this on 10/10/19. The views keep getting better as you go up. Our main destination was Duck Lake but there are several other beautiful lakes along the way as well. The last pass before you get to Duck lake is the most rocky and the steepest. It’s well paved though so you should be fine. Just have good boots and stay hydrated.

Stream crossings icy (dangerous). Blue Lake was very nice but I found what I was looking for at Dingleberry Lake - still waters, serenity, beautiful mountains, fragrant pine, cool sunshine...couldn’t ask for more!

hiking
bridge out
washed out
10 days ago

Oct 9, 2019. Aspens, birch, cottonwood are in full color, absolutely beautiful. The trails on AllTrails aren’t in the exact correct spot. One bridge/trail pretty badly washed out. Otherwise a perfect hike. No bugs, very few people too.

Very pretty with all the Lakes to pass on the way in October. Some Fall color.

Amazing!!!

Gorgeous trail in the autumn. Bright colors, Cristal springs and peaceful lakes.

Fall foliage is in full effect and stunning! At the beginning of the trail I passed a lot of people (families), but once you get to the 2 mile mark everyone clears out. The trail is quite rocky with short sections of mud from nearby falls and streams (all adds to the beauty). A lot of photogs out so bring your equipment! Once you get to Blue Lake, scramble along the edge to explore its inlets (there’s so many special spots to picnic). Plan on staying at Blue Lake for a while because it is exceptionally beautiful (I only saw 2 small groups people at the lake during my 2+ hours there on a busy Saturday 10/5/19). Made my way down at 3:45 and caught the golden hour along Sabrina lake.

hiking
12 days ago

Gorgeous trail from start to end; however, there’s a lot of scrambling at the end on rockfall. Be careful not to lose the trail. This hike features a panoramic view of all of the lakes in Big pine, frozen waterfalls, several mountains, a stream cut meadow, and the Palisade Glacier. Absolutely stunning

hiking
muddy
rocky
12 days ago

Trail was icy early October, then muddy later in the day, midweek naturally had no trouble parking but Saturday on the way out, the trail is very heavy, and parking lots were full. Temperatures ranged from mid 20s at night in early October to 60s, beautiful and sunny. Plenty of catch and release Brook and Rainbow trout, Long and Chickenfoot lakes. Saw a deer, squirrels, chipmunks. Beautiful area!

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