It just got harder to get your John Muir Trail Permits.
To help non-JMT hikers enjoy some of the other tails within Yosemite National Park, the National Park Service has issued a new interim exit quota system, which took effect February 2, 2015.
The NPS lists a few reasons why this is being implemented and what it all means for both JMT hikers and non-JMT hikers, but here’s the main takeaway:
The interim quota will limit the number of hikers exiting the Yosemite Wilderness over Donohue Pass to 45 per day.
Most hikers will cross Donohue Pass (which marks the border between the Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness) from three to four days into a hike that started from Happy Isles, and 45 exiting hikers is considerably less than the reported maximum of 79 in 2013 and 77 in 2014 (for peak season from mid-July through early September).
In order to get the appropriate exit permit, a hiker must start at Happy Isles, Glacier Point, Sunrise Lakes, or Lyell Canyon—and only Lyell Canyon has walk-up permits (and only 10 per day).
While I like the idea of making more of Yosemite available for non-JMT hikers to enjoy, this means that for the foreseeable future (“… until a more holistic and comprehensive approach can be developed through a larger planning effort.”), getting a permit to hike the JMT will be challenging.
Read all the details at the National Park Service JMT FAQ Page.