John Muir Trail: Florence Lake to Yosemite

Fresno, CA

Trip Highlights

  • Famous John Muir Trail
  • Stunning Mountain Scenery
  • Extended Adventure
  • Alpine Lakes
  • Towering Peaks
  • Mountain Solitude

Description

California’s John Muir Trail is one of the most well known and sought after hiking trails in the world. It traverses the jagged spine of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, passing by breathtaking alpine lakes, lush meadows blanketed with wildflowers, mountain cirques sliced by snow-fed cascades and towering glacial-carved peaks. The full John Muir Trail starts at Mount Whitney and finishes in Yosemite Valley. On this trip we hike from the south-north center of the trail at Florence Lake and head north, ending in Yosemite Valley. We conquer multiple challenging and fulfilling mountain passes on our journey, including Selden Pass (10,800′), Silver Pass (10,350′), Donahue Pass (11,066′) and more.  We visit Yosemite’s dramatic Cathedral Lakes before our hike ends at the northern terminus of the John Muir Trail, famous Yosemite Valley. This trip is one for the books – don’t miss it!

This trip is operated in partnership with Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, a permitted outfitter on the Sierra and Inyo National Forests.

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From USD
$4,560 Per Person
$110 Single Supplement  

$110 Single Supplement

The single supplement applies to the first night at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno, CA. The camping portion of the trip includes a 1-person tent for all solo travelers.

Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-13 Guests
Trip Length: 13 Days
Distance: 118MI / 190KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 5

Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trip features long daily hiking distances with moderate to severe elevation gains and losses for multiple days in a row. Backpack weight is 45+ pounds, and elevations go up to 11,000 feet. All of these details combined make this trip a clear Level 5 difficulty expedition. Be prepared for long, challenging days of hiking through absolutely gorgeous country day after day for 12 days.

Hiking Distances:

Up to 13 miles

Backpack Weight:

45+ pounds

Terrain:

Significantly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

Up to 3300 feet

Heights Exposure:

Moderate

Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF THIS TRIP

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 45+ lb backpack for 8-10 hours for multiple days in a row, at elevations of 8,000 – 11,000 feet.
  • Maintaining balance and footing on terrain that can be uneven, steep, rocky, snowy, or muddy
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

SOLITUDE LEVEL 3

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this High Sierra stock-supported trip a solitude 3. Expect hours of solitude at a time.

PRIVATE TRIPS

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

PRIVATE RATES FOR THIS TRIP

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

This John Muir Trail backpacking adventure begins in Fresno, California at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, not far from the Fresno Airport. You are able to check in to your room at the hotel anytime after 4:00 PM. At 6:00 PM your guide(s) will conduct an orientation meeting to review the itinerary, check gear, answer any questions you have, and lay out the plan for the next morning. Dinner tonight is on your own; most guests eat at the hotel.

Day 2

  • Shuttle to Trailhead: 3 hours
  • Hiking Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 920 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 460 feet

Our first hiking day begins with a complimentary hotel breakfast and private shuttle to the trailhead at 7:00 AM. Our trailhead is near a prominent lake recognized by many to be the half-way point of the John Muir Trail, close to equidistant from Mount Whitney and Yosemite Valley. At the lake we’ll take a boat shuttle into the John Muir Wilderness and enjoy a light day of hiking to get our legs warmed up. We’ll celebrate our first night in the mountains with a delicious dinner.

Day 3

  • Hiking Distance: 8.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3297 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1103 feet

Today starts with a hot breakfast, after which we’ll break camp and hit the trail. Today’s hike leads us past the gorgeous Sallie Keyes Lakes, then up to our first major mountain pass:  Selden Pass (10,880′). We’ll take some time at the pass to soak up the amazing views and eat some lunch. Then we’ll drop down from the pass and set up camp near a beautiful series of subalpine lakes.

Day 4

  • Hiking Distance: 10.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1321 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 3470 feet

Today’s hike is a relatively long one, but the majority of it is downhill, giving our muscles a little break from yesterday’s big climb. There is one short, but strenuous section today as we climb up to a high ridge before dropping into the Mono Creek Drainage. It is in this drainage that we’ll rendezvous with our first resupply.

Day 5

  • Hiking Distance: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3150 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 413 feet

The downhill hiking is over, as today we again begin gaining elevation. Today’s uphill hike gains more than 3,000 feet over 8 miles, but we’re rewarded with profoundly beautiful views almost the whole way! Our high point is Silver Pass (10,880′) which crosses over the “Silver Divide,” an aptly named ridge which indeed has a silvery appearance. We’ll enjoy lunch on or near the pass, and then continue on to camp near a pristine high mountain lake, Chief Lake.

Day 6

  • Hiking Distance: 11 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2210 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2870 feet

With our longest day yet ahead of us, we’ll start with a hearty breakfast to fuel our upcoming efforts. Today we’ll descend from Silver Pass and Chief Lake, and follow the crystal clear waters of Silver Creek into a lush, subalpine valley sliced by a winding stream. A short, steep ascent takes us to Virginia Lake, where we’ll stop for a picnic lunch and refreshing dip in the snowmelt-fed waters of the lake. After lunch, we’ll follow the John Muir Trail’s rolling ups and downs for several miles, and set up camp near Duck Creek – a picturesque spot that stands out, even in these amazing mountains!

Day 7

  • Hiking Distance: 11.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 670 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2984 feet

Today is another “restful,” mostly downhill hiking day that will help us recuperate from yesterday’s climb. Our camp tonight is in Red’s Meadow, where we’ll arrive in the late afternoon and meet our resupply in the vehicle-accessible campground. The campground has a small store and showers, so it’s a great time to clean up and grab some snacks you’re craving.

Day 8

  • Hiking Distance: 11 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2905 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1482 feet

Today is another big hiking day that will take us over a prominent, volcanic ridge and drop us into Shadow Lake. We’ll pass Devil’s Postpile National Monument and take some time to appreciate the bizarre and fascinating geologic features of the area. From Shadow Lake, we’ll ascend again to a breathtaking camping spot along Shadow Creek, where we’re likely to have the mountains all to ourselves.

Day 9

  • Hiking Distance: 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2656 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1533 feet

Today is arguably the crown jewel hike of the trip, with some of the most stunning views and scenes of the entire John Muir Trail! We’ll traverse below the Ritter Range, one of the most dramatic subranges of the Sierra Nevada. We’ll pass Garnett and Thousand Island Lakes, and camp along a creek with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Day 10

  • Hiking Distance: 12 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1074 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2263 feet

Today we’ll tackle the highest point of our 13-day trip: Donahue Pass at 11,050 feet! After the pass we drop into Yosemite National Park, descending through the heart of Yosemite along the breathtaking Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. Tonight we camp on the edge of a meadow in the Lyell Fork canyon.

Day 11

  • Hiking Distance: 13 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1591 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 839 feet

Today’s hike starts with a mostly flat section, ending at the Tuolumne Meadows Trailhead where we’ll enjoy lunch. After lunch we head out through Tuolumne Meadows up to the iconic and stunning Cathedral Lakes. We’ll set up camp, eat dinner and watch the alpenglow of the sunset reflect off the sheer pinnacles of Cathedral Peak, which stands guard over the lakes.

Day 12

  • Hiking Distance: 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 924 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2483 feet

This morning we say a fond farewell to not only the amazing Cathedral Lakes, but also to the high country of the Sierra Nevada that we have been traversing for the past 10 days. We set up camp along Sunrise Creek, where we can watch the sun set over Yosemite’s most iconic feature: Half Dome. We’ll celebrate our final night in the backcountry with a delicious dinner prepared by your guide(s).

Day 13

  • Hiking Distance: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 245 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 4227 feet

We’ll have a relaxing morning while we break camp and enjoy our final breakfast in the wilderness. Our hike is almost all downhill, and features two of the most dramatic features of Yosemite Valley, Nevada and Vernal Falls. Our plan is to arrive back in Fresno around 4:00 PM.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking

TRIP DATES & BOOKING

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast

GOING FAST

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Day 1 lodging at Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno, CA
  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast on Day 2 through lunch on the final day
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • Transportation originating and ending in Fresno, CA
  • Bear cannisters for food storage
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Dinner on Day 1, snacks/drinks at Red Meadows and Tuolumne
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What to Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear cannisters
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How Do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

This trip meets in Fresno, CA at 6:00 pm the evening of Day 1 for a pre-trip orientation meeting. The meeting location is the Wyndham Garden Hotel near the Fresno International Airport. Your guide will be in contact approximately 10 days prior to coordinate the rendezvous.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Travel to Fresno, CA

Fresno International Airport is a convenient airport to fly into, and the starting and ending point of the trip (Wyndham Garden Hotel) is located across the street from the airport. Please arrive in Fresno well before 6:00 PM and don’t plan any departing flights on the final day before 7:00 PM.

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the Day 2 rendezvous time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 7 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will be back into Fresno normally around 4 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time) on the final day.

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

Guide Shifts

High Sierra guides work daily shifts from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. During off hours (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) the guides’ time is their own, and they are free to sleep, rest, take personal time, postpone guest requests until the next morning, and any other legal, reasonable activity people engage in when not working. We ask all guests to respect the guides’ off-duty hours by not waking or asking anything of them unless there is a true emergency. Also, state law requires that employees receive an uninterrupted 10 minute break every four working hours, so guides are required to take four 10 minute breaks between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Sierras

Being a high mountain environment, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in the mountains. On trips in June, snow is a possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
Month
Valleys
Alpine
hi
low
hi
low
January
49°
26°
45°
25°
February
55°
28°
46°
26°
March
59°
31°
48°
27°
April
65°
35°
54°
30°
May
73°
42°
62°
37°
June
81°
51°
71°
46°
July
89°
57°
77°
50°
August
89°
56°
81°
53°
September
82°
51°
71°
46°
October
74°
39°
62°
37°
November
58°
31°
51°
29°
December
48°
26°
46°
25°

Accommodations

Accommodations

Wyndham Garden Hotel Fresno Airport

1 Night

Wyndham Garden Fresno Yosemite Airport is an ideal location to start and end this trip. Located across the street from the airport, it is convenient and easy to access after flying into Fresno. In addition to its ideal location, this hotel offers onsite dining, free wifi, fitness center and pool.

Backcountry Sleeping

11 Nights TENT CAMPING

Sleeping on llama treks is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

Backcountry Cuisine

FRESH & DELICIOUS

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your trekking guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

Amazing Campsites

IN THE ACTION

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your llama trekking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

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