John Muir Trail: Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows

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Yosemite National Park

John Muir Trail: Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows is a 20.9 mile point-to-point trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from May until October.

Length20.9 miElevation gain7,037 ftRoute typePoint to point
BackpackingCampingHikingWalkingForestLakePartially pavedRiverWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeHistoric siteFeeNo dogs
Description
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Yosemite National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are per vehicle or per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is per person. You can also purchase a park-specific annual pass. Yosemite is open with some services limited due to COVID-19. Reservations are required to drive into Yosemite. Some services and facilities are limited, and shuttles are not operating. See the park website for more info: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/covid19.htm Welcome to the beginning of what is bound to be an epic adventure! The John Muir Trail begins in Yosemite Valley. If you are hiking this at the most popular time of year, you'll be starting off in the valley with what might feel like each and every one of the park's 3.7 million annual visitors. While the crowds may be a bit overwhelming and discouraging, once you are a few miles into the trail the crowds will drop off, and soon you'll find yourself among like-minded backpackers and backcountry enthusiasts. The trail begins at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. In the first few miles, the John Muir Trail passes by some of the most impressive waterfalls you will see on the entire trail, Vernal and Nevada Falls. The trail eventually parallels Sunrise Creek (where you'll have the option of taking the side trail to Half Dome), passes the Sunrise High Sierra Camp, and then weaves between the sharp ridges of Tresidder and Cathedral peaks. Dropping from Cathedral Lakes, the trail reaches highway 120 (Tioga Pass Road) where you will once again encounter civilization in the form of a Visitor's Center, store, post office, grill, and campground at Tuolumne Meadows. This is the first opportunity for a resupply point on the John Muir Trail.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/jmt.htm Yosemite Permit information for JMT

You must have a valid permit for entering at this trailhead - these are available via the Yosemite website far in advance. Be aware that these book up very quickly, though a portion are saved for walk-ups. Availability will depend on when you start, the number of people in your party, and how flexible you are with starting dates. Research your options far in advance! Bear canisters are required on the trail and bears are known to be very active throughout this stretch. Knowing how to keep a clean camp and smellables stored will go miles towards keeping you and your food safe. If you are inclined, the side trip up Half Dome can't be missed. Time it for an early morning summit from a nearby campsite and you'll avoid the crowds!

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Reviews (23)
Photos (5,021)
Activities (22)
Completed (118)
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Travis Curry
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Backpacking

lots of rocks along the Merced River

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M Kung
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HikingBugs
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Brad Wells
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Backpacking

Check out our YouTube video of this trail: https://youtu.be/GLPpZOIsYAg Hard going out of Yosemite Valley but amazing all the way. Our permit started us Labor Day weekend 2018 exiting over Donahue pass and ending at Rush Creek Trailhead. No regrets on this trip, but if I did it again I’d do the reverse direction ending in the Valley because the elevation is killer for the non-thru hiker

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Brian Rogers
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Hiking

Takes about 10 miles to get away from the general population leaving from Happy Isles. But Cathedral Lakes is one of Americas best campsites. You could get there in a little over a half a day if you left from Tuolomne Meadows heading north to happy Isles.

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AllTrails User
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Backpacking
First to Review

Did this a few years ago. Amazing trail. But do it starting in Tuolumne Meadows and it's way easier.

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Liam Dillow
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Hiking
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Maricela Hernandez
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Hiking
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Huibert Mees
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Hiking
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Mike McLaughlin
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Hiking
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C Cat
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Hiking
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Doug VSteeg
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Hiking
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Adrien Le Thomas
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Hiking
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JIANN-JHY JAW
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Hiking
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JIANN-JHY JAW
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Hiking
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Joshua Hart
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Hiking
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Chris Caban
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Hiking
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Tim OBrien
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Hiking
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Lingxin Meng
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Vitalya Revega
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Hiking
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Ian Lawson
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Hiking
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Steve Piccinati
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Daniel Chupco
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Hiking
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Ryan Butts
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Hiking
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