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  1. #1

    Default Possible to use hammock for shelter on JMT?

    My first post! Has anybody hiked the John Muir Trail using a hammock for their shelter? I'm thinking of doing just the Reds Meadow to Yosemite part this year and have a new hammock I want to try out. I'm hoping to do the whole trail next year. What is the tree line elevation? Thanks for any info.

  2. #2


    Hard to tell where you are from but with a trail name like "rainyseason" it is probably not from CA.
    Trees can be few and far between in the Sierras.
    I remember us choosing our campsites by finding a tree suitable enough for hanging food (before we learned to sleep with it as a better option)
    Often there are not very many trees.
    I don't remember being above treeline at all in the section from Reds to Tuollume but, that doesn't mean there are many trees.
    I would discourage it personally.
    It rarely rains so, just use a tarp.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  3. #3
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Lake Saint Louis, MO


    I saw several hammock users during my jmt hike. Its doable but you'll to be flexible on your daily mileage, as you may need need to stop sooner or hike longer to have a place to hang.

  4. #4


    Thanks Guys,
    I'm from Costa Rica and don't really know much about the JMT yet, but I am starting my research.

  5. #5


    The JMT often goes above tree line as you approach the various passes. You shouldn't have a problem as long as you can make sure that you are below tree line each night. It will take more planning on how far you go each day to insure this.

  6. #6


    Thanks a lot, Miner, it's good to know that I can do it with my new hammock.

  7. #7


    You are going to have to amend your hiking miles sometimes in order to have a place to hang.

    Maybe, those fairweather none hammock nights you can just cowboy. Very often good weather prevails on the JMT. There are also ways to set up your hammock on the ground with just trekking poles.

  8. #8


    In the next three yrs when I get down to Costa Rica to hike, I'm taking my hammock as my shelter. I understand why you are so used to hammocking.

  9. #9


    Yes, I've been using jungle hammocks for years in the tropics and really enjoy it. I have a nice new one and am looking forward to using it this summer in the US. Since I'm just doing a little of the JMT this year I think I can be flexible in my hiking. Thanks for the information. Anybody who've done this part of the trail-Mammoth to Yosemite feel free to chip in about the practicality of using a hammock.

  10. #10


    For the section from Mammoth to Yosemite you are going to be at a low enough elev to get into plenty enough trees for hammocking. You are good to go. If for some reason you find yourself not in a hang area and the weather is nice just cowboy.

  11. #11

    :banana Thanks!

    Sounds great, I was a little worried about not having trees but now I'm looking forward to a fantastic hike. Thanks everybody!

  12. #12


    Treeline in the Sierra is at approximately 10,000 feet.

    As stated by another poster, from Tuolumne Meadows to Red's Meadow, you'll have no problems with a hammock; lots of trees. There is only one 3.5 mile stretch above treeline that you can easily traverse in a single day. That section is from the upper ford of the Lyell Fork (@10,185 feet and ~10 miles from T. Mdws) 1.8 miles up and over Donahue Pass (11,060 feet), and back down 2.7 miles to the trees at the Marie Lakes Trail junction (10,040 feet).

    If you are starting your hike from T. Mdws, I'd suggest you go as far as the Lyell Forks base camp (@9000 feet and ~8 miles from TM). This is an elevation gain of only about 400 feet. You'll want to take your time and enjoy the beauty that is Lyell Canyon and the walk along the river. Lots of swimming and great views. The elevation increase is so slight you'll never know you're not on level ground (unless you watch your altimeter)

    At LFBC, the climb to Donohue Pass abruptly begins. If your legs allow, go on up the switchbacks another 1.1 miles to the large forested bench at the bridge over the Lyell Fork (@9650 feet). Camp there. That's a good first day's trip - low miles, gentle start, great camping. Only negative - any real elevation gain is at the end of the day.

    CAVEAT: Lyell Canyon is full of bears. You will be visited at night so be sure your bear cans are secured.

    Wandering Bob

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date


    You might want to take an extra length of line for your hammock suspensions. Lots of the trees have huge diameters. On your first day out of Tuolumne, the last trees would be at the last lake before Donohue Pass. Beyond the pass you will have a long hike back down to treeline. The first two photos are of a campsite about a mile south, down from Donohue. Not many good "hammock hanging trees".

    But, note other trees along your route:

    For the JMT in general, however, camping above tree line is part of the fun or a neccessity and with sites along lake shores where trees are scarce, so practice setting up your hammock on the ground. Try setting up the tarp that goes over your hammock as a stand alone shelter using your hiking poles, so you will have a good ground option. Bring along a sleeping pad.

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