We hope you'll start your virtual hike of the JMT by navigating through this pictorial section. The photos follow the course of the trail from north to south. Enjoy!
Google Earth the JMT
If you're a fan of Google Earth, and would like to fly over the JMT, it's easy. If you wonder what a particular spot on the JMT looks like, just copy the latitude and longitude co-ordinates under the topo map and paste them into Google Earth's search box. If you'd like to tour the entire JMT, you can do that too. Just download this JMT link and import it into Google Earth, and go on a "blue spot" tour. Thanks to Chris Johnson for permitting me to use his JMT track. Be sure to check out his excellent site Parkay Maps, for additional Google Earth trails and elevation profiles
There is an additional, even easier way to fly over the JMT and it doesn't even require the full Google Earth app, just the browser plugin. Joseph Elfelt explains how on his Gmap4 website. Just download his pdf Help file and search for "tips for flying" to get complete instructions. It has a link that will open my JMT map using the Gmap4 technology.
You can help!
Like most hikers, we pulled our cameras out when we saw something special, or when we stopped for a break. Most of the time, we were hiking with little thought about photos. As a result, we got great shots of some sections of trail and few from others. Notably, we only had one photo from the Rae Lakes area, and none at all from Happy Isles in Yosemite to Tuolumne Meadows.
If you have good shots, especially from portions of trail that are under-represented here, please contact us. We'd like to add your photos to the virtual hike. You'll need be specific about exactly where your photo was taken. So email us first and provide this info and the number of photos you'd like to submit.
Mt. Whitney after a storm.
Mt. Whitney at sunrise from above 12,000'.
This panel provides a brief overview of the area highlighted on the page. On the map below, the red line represents the John Muir Trail, and the blue dot is the approximate spot where the photos were taken. The numbers below the topo map are the co-ordinates of the blue dot (latitude, longitude and elevation in feet).
#7: 37.6743 N, 119.1148 W 9440'
About the Map
The topo map is from National Geographic's mapXchange. This is a great site where users of National Geographic's Topo! program can post and download trail maps. The JMT is available in two files: northern and southern. These were authored by Dan Braun, founder of Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides. Dan has hiked the JMT extensively and provides excellent notes in his map files. We studied these maps carefully while pre-planning our trip.
Please note that the scale of the above topo is 1:50,000, and that the Topo! program also uses a much more detailed 1:24,000 scale. We needed to zoom out to show the surroundings better. Even so, such a small section of map doesn't show much, and is best supplemented with the full Topo! program.
Also note that while downloads from the mapXchange site are free, they can only be opened from within Topo! which is not free. However, if you live in California or plan to hike much in the State, you might consider buying this useful program.
Another advantage of the Topo! program is that it can be used with a GPS device. You can completely pre-plan your hike with a Topo! file and then upload your route to your GPS device. Frankly, we didn't use GPS on the JMT since the well-marked trail makes it unnecessary. I have used this system on other hikes though, and it works very well. You can even print out your maps complete with routes, waypoints and notes!
If you don't think you'll use Topo! enough to afford its $100 price tag, there are some free alternatives—not as useful or convenient, but free. One free website is TopoZone. Just paste the co-ordinates into their search page. Another is the Microsoft TerraServer. They also have a Lat-Long search, but it uses a - (minus) longitude and positive latitude. There are a few others too, listed at the USGS maps page.
You can move to major sections of this site by using the drop-down menus at the top of the page or the links at the bottom center. To go to the next or previous page, use the appropriate link on the bottom left or right. Additionally, in this Pictorial section, you can move to the next page by using the "Next Arrow" just above the topo map. Any problems, check Site-Help.