John Muir's Yosemite - Kings Canyon Route

A hiker's guide to the original 1873 expedition route.

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This book is a guide to a new long distance backpacking route that follows the travels of John Muir on his 1873 expedition through the Sierra Nevada range.

(This is not the famous "John Muir Trail").

This 212 mile hike begins in Yosemite National Park and travels southeast across the watersheds of the San Joaquin and Kings Rivers, then east to the redwoods in Sequoia National Park, down into magnificent Kings Canyon and eventually east over the Sierra crest to Onion Valley, near the town of Independence. It visits magnificent groves of giant sequoias, huge domes of stunningly clean granite, hillsides covered with wildflowers, spectacular waterfalls, and soaring cliffs lining glacier sculpted canyons. Completing the entire route will challenge even experienced backpackers but those with less ambitious goals can still find most of the scenic highlights the route offers accessible via day hikes.

This is NOT a guide to the John Muir Trail (JMT). Because the JMT bears the name of the famous naturalist most assume that he pioneered it or at least traveled its length at some point in time. He did not. The trail wasn't completed until 23 years after Muir's death.

The route described in this book is completely distinct and separate from the JMT and was explored and charted by the author in the late 2010's. It follows a route actually traveled by Muir and several friends on an expedition in the Fall of 1873. As you hike this route you will visit the same landscapes that Muir describes in his writings and personal journals, albeit sometimes changed by modern developments.

North Dome

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Stage 1: Yosemite to Clover Meadow (Redwoods)
  • Stage 2: Clover Meadow to Wishon (Rivers and Lakes)
  • Stage 3: Wishon to Grant Grove (Wildflowers)
  • Stage 4: Grant Grove to Onion Valley (Mountains)
  • Thru-Hike Logistics
  • Section Hikes
  • Day Hikes
  • Uncovering Muir's Route
  • Appendix 1: Maps
Each Stage includes route description, side trips, alternate routes, and logistics. Sprinkled throughout the book are sidebars with supplemental readings from John Muir's journals, natural history, and Leave No Trace tips.

Free Preview - The Adventurer's Edition

The Adventurer's Edition of the guidebook is an 20 page introduction to the history of the route, its location, what to expect on the hike, comparisons to other major Sierra trails, and a list of over twenty key navigation landmarks along the route taken from Muir's journals. What is omitted are the detailed maps and route descriptions that will be included in the forthcoming complete guidebook.

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Last Updated: 10 Oct 2020

What Readers Say

"A grand tour of the Sierra from high to low."

E. Hemingway

"The most exciting Sierra hike I've ever done. "

W. Faulkner

"An undiscovered gem. Why hasn't anyone done this before?"

J. Austen

Author Bio

John is an avid backpacker and rock climber with decades of experience wandering in the Sierra Nevada. He climbed El Capitan in 1983 and completed a thru-hike of Roper's Sierra High Route in 2005. He teaches backpacking courses for Outward Bound and is always on the alert for the Western Tanager.


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