Welcome to the beginning of what is bound to be an epic adventure! The John Muir Trail begins in what could be called the Disneyland... more » of National Parks - 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, don't be deterred - regrettably, a large majority of those visitors will never even leave pavement. 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 a rather developed way - you'll be starting off on pavement. The pavement quickly gives way to traditional Sierra-style trail as you ascend.
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.
A short note: Thanks for all of the photo contributors to Everytrail that are included in this guide. It has been several years since I hiked this stretch and my journal notes are better than my photos! less «