OK, so you have decided that you want to tackle the John Muir Trail or are still in the thinking about it stage and want more information on your food resupply options over the 220+ mile journey. Some hike at pretty good clip, covering 15 to 20 miles a day and requiring fewer resupply stops. Others, like ourselves, hike more slowly, about 10 to 13 miles a day, and need more resupply stops, especially if you want to keep your pack weight down.
Hiking north to south, we took advantage of every relatively easy resupply option. Past Muir Trail Ranch, essentially the halfway point at mile 108, however, it is 110 miles to the end of the trail at Whitney Portal with no easy resupply locations. To break up this long stretch we hiked out over Kearsarge Pass to Independence, which added another 15 miles to the overall total miles hiked.
The following outlines our resupply points, the distances between them, and the services offered.
Specific information on how to send resupply packages can be found in Elizabeth Wenk’s John Muir Trail: The essential guide to hiking America’s most famous trail or on the websites of the respective locations.
Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows – 24 miles (add 5 miles if you climb Half Dome).
Tuolumne Meadows – Just off the JMT.
Resupply at the Tuolumne Post Office. While there is a lodge in the park staying there generally requires a reservation made far in advance. A through-hiker campground is located behind the Tuolumne Meadows campground. Next to the Post Office there is a well-stocked general store and a take-out grill that offers burgers and sandwiches.
Tuolumne Meadows to Red’s Meadow Resort – 35 miles
Red’s Meadow Resort – Less than a half a mile from the JMT.
The Red’s Meadow Resort general store will accept and hold resupply packages for a fee. The “resort” also offers a range of accommodations generally requiring advanced reservations. A campground is located down the road from the resort. Also available to through-hikers are showers, toilets, a café, and self-serve laundry facilities. Click here for our experience at the resort.
Red’s Meadow Resort to Vermilion Valley Resort – 29 miles + about 5 miles to get to the resort. This can be shortened if you take the ferry across the lake.
Vermilion Valley Resort – about 5 miles from the JMT. To get to the resort there are a couple of trail options including a ferry across the lake that reduces the hike in to 1.5 to 2.5 miles depending on the water level of the lake.
Resupply packages are picked up at the general store. The resort also offers en-suite motel rooms and other services similar to Red’s Meadow Resort, i.e., showers, toilets, washing machines, and a café. A backpacker campground is also available on the property. Click here for a complete review.
Vermilion Valley Resort to Muir Trail Ranch – 20 miles + about five additional miles, less if you take the ferry, to get from VVR to the JMT + another mile on the MTR cutoff trail.
Muir Trail Ranch (MTR)– about a mile off the JMT.
As this is the last convenient resupply stop heading south it is very popular and has a great selection of items left by other trekkers in the backpacker bins. The resupply service is efficient but the ranch offers absolutely no other services, not even toilets, for trekkers who are not staying at the ranch. For those wishing to stay the night there are quaint creek side cabins with full board buffet meals at $170 per person, reservations advised. Also on the property are two private hot springs and a rustic lounge. Click here for a complete review.
Muir Trail Ranch to Independence – 69 miles + 7.5 miles to get to the Onion Valley Trailhead.
Independence – 7.5 miles to the Onion Valley trailhead + a 12 mile drive into town.
Mt Williamson Motel in Independence offers a through-trekker package that includes collecting your resupply package, transportation to and from the trailhead, room, breakfast, laundry and a beer. You can also collect your resupply package yourself at the post office. In town there are a couple of hotels, two restaurants, a Subway and a taco truck. For a complete review click here.
From Independence it’s 7.5 miles back to the JMT + another 42 miles to Whitney Portal.