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Want to Hike the John Muir Trail? The Lottery for a Permit is Now Open

The John Muir Trail (JMT) is one of the most popular thru-hikes in the country. The 211-mile hike mostly follows the Pacific Crest Trail from Yosemite National Park through the Sierras. The adventure is epic and brings hikers to the highest point in the lower 48 states. However, the hike’s popularity has made permits especially and snagging one isn’t always easy. Here’s everything hikers need to know to get a permit for the John Muir Trail.

What is the John Muir Trail?

Named for conservationist John Muir, the path goes from Yosemite to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Most of the trail goes through designated wilderness areas and tops out at Mount Whitney’s 14,505 feet of elevation. Most hikers take between ten days and three weeks to complete the trail.

Due to the trail being the shorter little brother of the PCT, it has become a popular alternative as a thru-hike. However, that also brought large crowds to the area, and the trail became overwhelmed. Organizations like the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the National Park Service worked to add permits for the hike and eventually a lottery system to get those permits. 

you need a permit for the john muir trail and to hike through Yosemite.
The trail starts in Yosemite National Park. (Source: Spencer DeMera)

How to Get a Permit for the John Muir Trail

So, how do hikers get a permit to start this incredible adventure?

Recreation.gov offers the lottery system for Yosemite National Park, where most people start the journey heading from north to south. 

Before making a purchase, it’s important to get the correct wilderness permit. Hikers planning to continue the journey out of Yosemite need to select either Donohue Pass Eligible Trailheads to exit the park and head south. This includes Happy Isles to Past LYV or Lyell Canyon. Only these permits continue the journey onto the JMT, while the rest are for backpacking within the park. 

The lottery system is currently open from June 30 to July 6 of this year. Applying for the permit is a $10 fee, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll win the lottery. So, you may be out $10. The application deadline is Saturday, January 20. Then, the next window of dates opens, including July 7 to July 13. This process continues until the whole summer is booked. 

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