John Muir Wilderness Trail Restoration, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14283A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Camp and work in the heart of the John Muir Wilderness
  • Explore alpine meadows and lakes
  • Experience wilderness and spectacular landscape


  • All meals and snacks
  • Campsite eradication training and equipment by Forest Service wilderness staff
  • Pack support for all tools, as well as the majority of the food and commissary


DatesJul 27–Aug 2, 2014
StaffJim Nicholas

This trip has already run. Here are a few others you may enjoy:

To search our full lineup by destination, date, activity, or price, please visit our Advanced Search page. Or give us a call at 415-977-5522 to find the trip that's right for you.

Trip Overview

The Sharon Churchwell Fund is offering youth 18-25 years old a discount on this trip. Visit the Sharon Churchwell Fund page for more details.

The Trip

John Muir was so moved by the alpine terrain of the Sierra Nevada that he established the Sierra Club to help protect it. One hundred years later you can still revel in the beauty of the John Muir Wilderness, which encompasses many of the areas that Muir explored in the late 1800s.

The Project

Our project will focus on restoring the wilderness character of the area adjoining the Bear Creek Trail. The trail passes through wet alpine meadows. Work will involve moving (and potentially crushing) boulders to provide materials to repair degraded trails, naturalizing unauthorized campsites, and removing unwanted fire rings. Each day we may hike a few miles to get to the work site. The work will be strenuous and physically demanding, but will also be very rewarding. The Forest Service wilderness staff will provide training on safety and equipment use and direction of our work.


Day 1: The trip begins at noon at the Bear Creek trailhead, several miles outside of Bishop, CA. We will eat lunch, get acquainted, and hike eight miles to our base camp. The elevation of the trailhead is 7,000 feet and it will be a steady, steep climb, with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Well worth the effort!

Days 2-3: We'll start our service work on areas adjacent to the Bear Creek Trail, following the direction of the Forest Service wilderness staff.

Day 4: Today will be a day off for resting and exploring the area surrounding our base camp. Opportunities include: day hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail, or fishing or swimming in one of the area’s many alpine lakes.

Days 5-6: We'll continue our service work off Bear Creek Trail.

Day 7: On our last day together, we will hike out to Bear Creek trailhead, then say our goodbyes.



Getting There

Trip members are responsible for getting themselves to and from the Bear Creek trailhead. Depending on your location, you will want to fly to Northern California (San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, or Sacramento); Southern California (Los Angeles, Ontario, or Burbank); Reno, Nevada (closest to trailhead); or Las Vegas. Exact driving directions, maps, and information about places to stay before and after the trip will be sent later. The trip leader will send out trip rosters to all participants, including each person's travel plans, and will help arrange carpooling.

Since we will be hiking out eight miles on the last day, please make your travel arrangements to return home on Sunday, August 3.

Accommodations and Food

Come with the attitude that food is part of the adventure. Trip menu planning considers that there is no refrigeration and food must be protected from animals. We provide healthy, nutritious vegetarian-friendly meals with a small amount of meat, dairy, and soy products added to ensure proper protein.

We have a group commissary, with everyone taking turns in food preparation. Before applying for the trip, people with food allergies and/or strong food preferences must contact the cook to see if accommodations are possible.

The Forest Service will provide pack animals to carry our food, tools, and group commissary equipment to our base camp.  Each of us must carry our personal gear, including sleeping bags and tents to the camp.

Trip Difficulty

It would be misleading not to call this a strenuous trip. We will take just one day to hike in, but it is still a gain of over 2,000 feet to our base camp and work site at about 9,000 feet. Participants should have past experience in hiking, camping, and backpacking, and be in good physical shape. Trail work can be physically demanding and ours will be performed at or above 9,000 feet. Experience at high altitude is not a prerequisite for the trip. However, physical conditioning before the trip, including hiking with elevation changes (or a lot of climbing up and down stairs), is essential to your enjoyment of this incredible outing. People who do not live at high elevations could potentially have problems adjusting to the high elevations of the Sierra, so it is strongly recommended that all participants arrive to the area several days before the trip in order to begin acclimatizing.

Equipment and Clothing

In addition to your regular backpacking gear, you must bring two pairs of leather work gloves, a good pair of over-the-ankle hiking boots, a pair of long pants, and a long-sleeved work shirt to wear while working.

You will need a day pack to carry your lunch, water, work gloves, raingear, sunscreen, etc. to the work site. You should also bring a bowl, cup, and eating utensils, as well as a leak-proof plastic food container for packing your lunch each day. Temperatures will range from nighttime lows in the 30s to daytime highs in the 90s, and sunny days to hail/snow storms. You should bring clothing to cover a wide range of conditions. A detailed equipment list will be provided in your trip packet at a later time.



  • A copy of a detailed topographic map of the area we’ll be hiking and working in will be provided to you at the trailhead.


  • Mock, John and O'Neil, Kimberley, Lonely Planet: Hiking in the Sierra Nevada.
  • Secor, R.J., The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes and Trails.
  • Snyder, Gary and Killion, Tom High Sierra of California.
  • Whitney, Stephen, A Sierra Club Naturalist's Guide to the Sierra Nevada.


Though the John Muir Wilderness is protected by federal law, nearby areas not designated as wilderness are still threatened by development, logging, and overgrazing. All of the Sierra Nevada range is threatened by air pollution from the San Joaquin Valley below; this affects the health of trees and other local flora. Rural development in the foothills and in the forests is encroaching on traditional habitat boundaries, increasing pressures on animals and threatening downstream water quality. Logging practices are still extremely disruptive and logging roads leave scars that remain long after the forests recover. Lastly, cattle grazing at the boundaries of wilderness areas poses a direct threat to water quality and fish habitat.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



Jim Nicholas has been taking part in Sierra Club Service trips since 1996, and this trip will be his tenth as leader. This has allowed him to combine three of his great passions: working to preserve wild, beautiful places; meeting adventurous new people; and repairing camping equipment with duct tape.


Regan Gill has a degree in Nutritional Sciences from UC Davis. She loves combining delicious food and the great outdoors. She is never happier than on a backpacking trip in the mountains and is looking forward to cooking great meals for everyone on this trip. In real life she works in software development in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Contact the Staff

Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.

Try Another Trip

By Date