John Muir Trail Permits

How to Get a John Muir Trail Permit

Challenges in Obtaining a John Muir Trail Permit

Getting a permit to hike the JMT was always a bit of a dark art, but with the advent of the new rules allowing only 45 daily exits from Yosemite over Donahue Pass, it’s harder than ever.

Donahue Pass on the John Muir Trail
The glacier on the Yosemite side of Donahue Pass.

If you’re dead-set on hiking the JMT southbound from Happy Isles in Yosemite, the bad news is the odds are not in your favor. But if you’re open to starting your hike from a number of other trailheads, your chances improve, albeit slightly. Fortunately, there are many guides on how you can obtain a southbound John Muir Trail permit.

A John Muir Trail Permit
The permit from my 2012 John Muir Trail thru-hike.

Three Useful Resources for Obtaining a John Muir Trail Permit

  • The official John Muir Tail Permit page from the National Park Service, complete with full, slightly explanation of why the new 45-hiker limit over Donohue Pass was decided upon and how it is calculated.
  • The Pacific Crest Trail Association is a pretty good resource for planning your JMT hike in general, and their section on JMT Permits will help you cut through some of the red tape involved in securing the coveted permit.
  • REI offers up a basic list of 5 Tips for Securing Popular Backcountry Permits that’s worth reading, although it skews to the generic side of permit acquisition.

The Best-Ever Guide to Getting a John Muir Trail Permit

But the best-ever guide I’ve seen on how to secure yourself a permit to hike the JMT under the new regulations is the comprehensive explanation of the process from Kristen over at Bearfoot Theory.

Check her post for the full, in-depth details, but the big takeaway from this is knowing that the magic number is 168. That’s the number of days in advance the Yosemite permit office will accept your permit reservations. So mark your calendars … and good luck securing your John Muir Trail permit!

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