JMT COVID-19 Updates: * Updated May 30, 2020 *

 

While hiking this past weekend, I met a man who gave up his PCT thru-hiking permit last month, further driving the point that many hikers’ dreams have been shattered by the pandemic. My heart goes out all those in the thru-hiking community that have been impacted by this unfortunate pandemic.

With that being said, my own thru-hike may be in jeopardy of being canceled—though I’m maintaining an optimistic attitude.

Though this information will likely become dated within the next month (let’s face it, maybe even the next day!), I’ve compiled a list of current JMT COVID-19 updates to be viewed in a singular place.

Nonetheless, I hope this post provides a one-stop-shop that’s helpful for others hoping to embark on the JMT this summer.

National Parks/Wilderness Areas

JMT COVID-19 Updates

Thousand Isle Lake. Photo by Jasper van der Meij

The JMT travels through an array of forest systems, all with their own unique guidelines. This list provides current (as of this post) information regarding each territory the JMT passes through.

Yosemite National Park

Per Yosemite’s webpage, the park is closed until further notice. However, I stumbled upon a recent article from Greater Milwaukee Today revealing that Yosemite may open by early June, but with reduced visitor capacity and one-way traffic on popular trails.

Inyo National Forest

In a beneficial twist to some hikers, Inyo National Forest has begun issuing virtual wilderness permits, beginning June 1st! Permittees are eligible to call and request Inyo to send them an email with their official permit instead of having to pick it up at an official office.

However, Mt Whitney day and night use permits are being canceled one week in advance of the permit date. Inyo has said they are reviewing this on a week to week basis, starting June 1st.

Side note: you’re still able to summit Mt. Whitney if coming from the west and exiting from the west (eg. staring hike from Horseshoe Meadows, summiting Whitney and returning west to complete the trail.

Sierra National Forest

Per the Sierra National Forest page, several developed campgrounds have reopened. Hiking and dispersed camping have also remained open during the pandemic.

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park

On June 4th, Kings Canyon and Sequioa National Park will be opening roads, trails, restrooms, and picnic areas, per their page on the National Park Service website.

Shuttle Services

JMT COVID-19 Updates

Sunrise at Half Dome. Photo Shownen on Unsplash

Shuttle services provide the framework for transporting people to and from the trailhead. My own JMT itinerary relies heavily on these systems remaining in place in order to get from the airport to the trailhead and back again.

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA)

Per the ESTA website – effective May 26th – almost all services are back to running their normal Monday through Friday schedule.

Personally, I was able to successfully schedule my reservation in July for the 395 Southbound route (Reno to Lone Pine) on May 29th!

One step closer.

Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS)

Per the YARTS website, YARTS is suspending summer service until further notice (most likely when the park reopens).

The only service available at this time is the Merced Hwy 140 route, albeit on a modified schedule.

Resupply

Many resupply options on the JMT will likely have their own twist on precautions. Here’s what we know so far:

Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR)

VVR has been incredibly active on their Facebook page and Instagram regularly posting updates as they come along.  VVR will open on June 1st and will have precautions in place such as social distancing and required mask-wearing.

Muir Trail Ranch (MTR)

MTR has also been active on their Facebook page, though not to the extent of VVR. Their last significant post came on April 15th, in which it appears they too will be open in time for the hiking season.

Resources for General JMT COVID-19 Updates

The John Muir Trail Facebook Group
John Muir Trail Hikers 

This is a tremendous resource for JMT questions, and more recently, COVID-19 updates. The moderators do a fantastic job of keeping the peace, as well as posting necessary updates regarding the trail.

Facebook Pages

Type the forest area, shuttle service, or resupply option you’re looking for and whoola! Most appear on Facebook and regularly update their page.

That’s a wrap for current JMT COVID-19 updates. Please leave any questions in the comments below. Hopefully, you found this information helpful.

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Comments 5

  • Avatar
    Darren : May 12th

    Good info!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Chad Lubinski : May 12th

      Thanks, Darren!!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Bob Richey : May 30th

    Red’s Meadow said they will be open for resupply and cabin rentals no later than July 4.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Chad Lubinski : May 31st

      Yes! Forgot to add that. Thanks Bob.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    David Johnston : Jun 20th

    Thanks for this info share.

    Maybe two good things out of this pandemic. for the JMT and the parks:
    1. A little “breather” for nature and her brethren (wildlife). Let them have their home to themselves for a while (I know we all practice no interference, but still, good that they can not worry about people folk for a while).
    2. Like many businesses and services, the National Parks and other services will hopefully get with the times, and go fully digital. I still remember efaxing my JMT application in 2018. And then, spending 2 hours on day 1 to pick up a paper permit (that I immediately took a picture of, which picture suited the Rangers I later met along the JMT).
    (No wonder National Parks got snowed on all the trade names in Yosemite.)

    Reply

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