Thru-Hiker's Guide to America

John Muir Trail Terrain
By E. Schlimmer

Excerpted from Thru Hiker's Guide to America by E. Schlimmer

The John Muir Trail has a relatively smooth tread compared to the rocky, rooty, steep, and muddy trails of the East. You can expect to make moderate progress on the JMT, once you get acclimated. The trail climbs across nine major passes above the 10,000-foot level and wanders above that elevation for approximately sixty-five miles. The tread is a graded surface of rock and sand for the most part, with tons of switchbacks to help you get up climbs that can exceed 2,500 vertical feet. On Mount Whitney alone, if you start from the south, you’ll ascend a total of ninety-nine switchbacks from Whitney Portal to the summit. Forests in this area are mostly an assortment of pines, including Jeffrey, white, lodgepole, foxtail, and jack. You’ll also see aspen, hemlock, and red fir.

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