15 Finest John Muir Path Campsites – Bearfoot Principle

Most individuals take about three weeks to hike the John Muir Path, which implies you’ll get to get pleasure from 20+ nights of epic alpine tenting. Many of the JMT is above the tree line and also you’ll have nightly alternatives to set your self up for unimaginable sunsets, moonrises, Milky Methods, and sunrises. Water for cooking and ingesting is in all places and flat, established campsites are plentiful, particularly when you’re keen to hike a half mile or extra off the primary hall.

Don’t fear about mapping out the place you’ll camp every night time, as a result of your tempo will change all through your hike, however there are a number of memorable locations you’ll wish to purpose for in case your legs are keen and daylight is in your aspect. Right here’s an inventory of among the finest John Muir Path campsites that you just’ll wish to have in your radar as you propose your route.

This weblog put up was initially written by BFT Founder, Kristen, who hiked the John Muir Path Southbound in 2014. It was up to date in 2022 by Mary Caperton Morton of The Blonde Coyote who hiked the John Muir Path Northbound in 2020. It contains essentially the most just lately out there data.

1) Decrease Cathedral Lake (SOBO Mile 17)

This Yosemite lake is incredible for a number of causes. First, get quintessential views of needle-sharp Cathedral Peak which on a relaxed day varieties an ideal reflection within the lake. Then, when you stroll out to the West finish of the lake, you may watch the sundown over Tenaya Lake within the Valley under.

*Observe: Decrease Cathedral Lake is situated about 1/2 mile off of the John Muir Path and requires a brief aspect path.

Cathedral Lakes Campsite on the John Muir Trail

2) Thousand Island Lake (SOBO Mile 43)

There aren’t fairly 1,000 islands in Thousand Island Lake however there are sufficient islands to make this lake one of the crucial picture-perfect postcard-worthy scenes of the JMT. The perfect views and campsites are alongside the north aspect of the lake, the place you’ll have uninterrupted views throughout the water towards 12,936-foot Banner Peak.  Remember that a number of older, unofficial websites are inside 200 ft of the lake, too near the lake for right now’s Go away No Hint requirements. They’re flat and look inviting, however please pitch your tent at a website above the shoreline (just like the campsite under).

A person sips out of mug looking out at 1000 Islands Lakes on the John Muir Trail from their campsite
Picture credit score: Mary Caperton Morton

3) Garnet Lake (SOBO Mile 45)

There’s a cause this lake was considered one of Ansel Adam’s favourite locations to {photograph}. Banner and Ritter Peaks rising within the distance, superb swimming, and dozens of tree-covered islands dotting the lake make it one of many extra recognizable lakes within the Sierras.

Garnet Lake on the John Muir Trail

4) Lake Ediza Junction (SOBO Mile 47)

When you’re on the market you’ll begin to see that the afternoon solar is a vital part of an superior campsite and some websites across the Lake Ediza junction provide simply that. Past Lake Ediza, you descend right down to Shadow Lake, which is beautiful, however shady because the identify implies. So cease right here and take pleasure in these rays till the solar units behind the jagged ridge to the west. Whereas the creek will probably be too shallow to swim in, photographers will love the morning reflection of the mountains within the creek.

Lake Ediza Junction camping on the John Muir Trail

5) Minarets Lake Loop (SOBO Mile 47) 

For an extremely scenic bonus JMT aspect mission that begins on the Lake Ediza Junction, take into account mountain climbing the Ediza and Minaret Lakes Loop, which makes a semi-circle off the JMT between the Ediza Junction and Johnston Meadow. We loved top-of-the-line John Muir Path campsites between Cecile and Minaret Lakes. This 8.5-mile loop doesn’t add any vital mileage to a JMT hike (you’ll be skipping an 8.1-mile part between Shadow Creek and Johnston Lake) and the views of the enduring and spiky Minarets throughout the excessive lakes basin are positively definitely worth the detour.

A man makes food next to his tent on the Minarets Lake Loop on the John Muir Trail
Picture credit score: Mary Caperton Morton

6) Virginia Lake (SOBO Mile 72)

We didn’t keep right here as a result of we thought it was too early to cease for the day, so we had a pleasant lengthy lunch, did some swimming, and continued on. As we left the lake, a deep sense of remorse began to sink in, and we agreed that we must always’ve camped right here. On the west aspect of the lake, there are dozens of flat and personal spots to arrange store that present simple lake entry and exquisite views.

Lake Virginia camping on the John Muir Trail

7) Vermillion Valley Resort (SOBO Mile 88)

In 2020 when Mary hiked the JMT, the ferry throughout Lake Edison wasn’t working so she needed to hike 13 miles off-trail to get to and from Vermillion Valley Resort. By sheer luck, she confirmed up on BBQ night time and the scrumptious sizzling meal, sizzling showers, laundry, hiker field resupply, and camaraderie with different hikers made the detour price each step. VVR’s old-time common retailer and tent tenting space just isn’t wilderness tenting, however it’s going to fill your canteen in additional methods than one so we needed to embrace it in our favourite JMT campsites.

*Observe: As of 2022, the ferry is again in service and usually runs from July to October.

A BBQ grill full of meat and veggies at Vermillion Valley Resort camping and resupply on the John Muir Trail
Picture Credit score: Mary Caperton Morton

8) Bear Creek (SOBO Mile 96)

You hit upon Bear Creek after an extended sizzling, dusty hike up and over Bear Ridge, and while you lastly attain Bear Creek’s idyllic swimming holes, you’ll be dying for a spot to chill off. So take a dip and calm down the remainder of the day on the large flat granite boulders which might be scattered all through the center of the cascades.

Bear Creek camping on the John Muir Trail

9) Marie Lakes (SOBO Mile 99)

The campsites at Marie Lakes are smack dab in the midst of a kind of iconic granite lake basins created by the long-lost glaciers of the Sierra. Over the past glaciation, an enormous mass of ice sat on this bowl between 10,898 foot Selden Go and the 13,075-foot Seven Gables. All that weight gouged out the smattering of depressions that at the moment are the Marie Lakes, Medley Lakes, and Three Thousand Islands Lakes. Surrounded by lakes you’ll be handled to an unimaginable lightshow on the water and a silvery granite skyline at each dawn and sundown.

Sunset at Marie Lakes on the JMT
Picture Credit score: Mary Caperton Morton

10) McClure Meadow (SOBO Mile 119)

The night time we spent in McClure Meadow occurred to be a full moon, and watching the moonrise above Evolution Basin was one of the crucial spectacular issues I’ve seen in my life. There’s additionally a beautiful meandering creek the place you may watch the sundown and soak your sore ft.

McClure Meadow on the John Muir Trail

11) Evolution Basin and Darwin Bench (SOBO Mile 122) 

Evolution Lake is one other unimaginable John Muir Path campsite, the place Mary and her mountain climbing accomplice caught a number of Golden trout. After organising camp and hanging our meals they hiked as much as Darwin Bench, a dangling lakes basin that overlooks Evolution Basin. This was a spectacular spot to understand the ghosts of glaciers previous that after overtopped all however the highest peaks within the Sierra. 

A NEMO Hornet 2 backpacking tent set up at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail
Picture credit score: Mary Caperton Morton

12) Lakes North of Pinchot Go (SOBO Mile 159)

Not like different areas on the path, the mountains round Pinchot Go are dominated by neon purple hues that mild up through the alpenglow hour. There are a number of remoted lakes to select from, so have your decide and revel in these beautiful colours.

7 - Pinchot Pass

13) Center Rae Lake (SOBO Mile 172)

Center Rae Lake will probably be one of many busier campsites you encounter on the path, however it’s for a cause. Superior swimming, iconic peaks like Fin Dome and the Painted Girl, and among the most excellent dawn reflections make it price placing up with a small crowd.

8 - Rae Lakes

14) Bighorn Plateau (SOBO Mile 196)

Bighorn Plateau gives unparalleled views of the night time sky, and it’s additionally the place you get your first glimpse of Mt. Whitney. Being on a flat expanse fully above the treeline, Bighorn Plateau is a good place to apply some night time pictures. Nonetheless, it’s best to solely camp on the plateau if the sky is obvious. Getting caught up there in a thunderstorm just isn’t solely disagreeable however could be very harmful.

Mt. Whitney from Bighorn Plateau on the John Muir Trail
Mt. Whitney from Bighorn Plateau | Picture Credit score: Mary Caperton Morton

15) Above Guitar Lake (SOBO Mile 206)

All the pieces I learn main as much as my hike was that Guitar Lake was the final place to get water earlier than heading as much as Mt. Whitney. Because of this, that’s the place most individuals spend their final night time on the path. Simply earlier than Guitar Lake, we ran right into a ranger who instructed us that if we saved going a couple of 1/2 mile above Guitar Lake there have been a sequence of small unnamed lakes, so we determined to test it out. It ended up being the perfect determination.

Guitar Lake will get chilly and shady early within the afternoon, however the small lake above it provided solitude, late-day solar, and an unimaginable view of the solar setting behind Guitar Lake. We couldn’t have requested for a greater method to spend our final night time on the John Muir Path.

10 - Above Guitar Lake

>> See our total John Muir Path archive

Do you’ve any questions on tenting on the JMT? What are your favourite John Muir Path campsites? Tell us within the feedback!

Hiking the John Muir Trail means 20+ nights of epic camping. Here are the 15 best campsites on the John Muir Trail you won't want to miss.

Written by
Kristen Bor

Hey there! My identify is Kristen, and that is my outside weblog. I found the facility of the outside in my 20s, on the time I wanted it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that vital reference to nature continues to enhance my life. My purpose at Bearfoot Principle is to empower you with the instruments and recommendation you should responsibly get outdoors.

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