As we meet people on the trail and off it, we are always a bit amazed by the appeal of the John Muir Trail.
Sure, it was a great idea at the time, and is a good way to get from one end of the Sierra to the other. But it's not the only way, and its fame has led to it becoming a highly travelled thoroughfare that visits heavily impacted campsites, draws crowds along its entire length, and is often six to eight feet wide because of all the traffic it gets. But it has become famous, and so to hike it is a "bucket list" adventure.
We don't get it. When we backpack, we do it to avoid crowds. We choose trails that are less travelled, or often go cross-country to see things that trails don't reach. We camp in quiet nooks where there are no other people for miles. And we sometimes go days without seeing another person.
Is the scenery we see any less attractive than the scenery on the John Muir Trail? We don't think so. In fact, it has far less damage from crowds, so in many ways its more attractive. The photo above is on the JMT. The photo at left is just about a mile away from the crowds in the previous picture. We didn't see anyone once we left the JMT itself.
The next time someone suggests that you take a hike along the JMT, you might just respond with an alternative route--one that gets you away from the hordes, rather than hiking with them. You'll find quite a few itineraries in the destination sections of our site...