The John Muir Trail

A Cleaner Trail for All

Mt. Lyell and Mt. McClure - Signed Special Edition Photograph

Mt. Lyell and Mt. McClure by Ansel Adams
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Nestled deep in the heart of the High Sierra, the 211-mile John Muir Trail traverses three national parks, one national monument, two national forests, and four wilderness areas. Passing through some of the country’s most dramatic and beautiful natural landscapes on its journey from Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney, the trail is—deservedly—a destination for hikers from around the world. The region is a jewel in the crown of the United States’ protected wilderness, where one can be inspired by the raw, untrammeled beauty of Nature, along with your fellow hikers and backpackers. It is an area that takes time to penetrate but is within a relatively short drive of 40 million people. As such, the main threat to this breathtaking landscape is not logging, mining, development, or road-building. Instead, the Trail is the victim of its own success, threatened by the continuous micro-impacts of each visiting hiker. While one boot print won’t cut a new trail through a meadow, a thousand such boot prints might, damaging the delicate ecosystem of the High Sierra and, sadly, leaving the trail a little worse for hikers’ having been there.

Recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it, with hard work and conscientious visitors, the trail and the wilderness made accessible by it can be recovered to a near pristine state. There are currently multiple efforts underway that anyone can assist with, a combination of prevention and restoration.