JMT Resupply

Resupply Overview

You will need to resupply yourself while hiking on the JMT. The most common way to resupply yourself is to package up a resupply box and ship it to one of resupply locations along the JMT.

On this page we’ve put together a lot of information about resupplying in general as well as a lot of specific information about resupplying on the JMT. We’ll also include some links to some other helpful sites.

Here's a map of the resupply points along the JMT. Click on each envelope icon to see the specific information about each individual resupply point. We've heard of other resupply points, but these are the most common and reliable.

Resupply Considerations

How long will your hike be?

JMT Pacing

Table is based on a JMT hike from Happy Isles, up Mt. Whitey, and finishing in Whitney Portal (221 Miles)

22.10 Miles Per Day10 Days Hiking
20.09 Miles Per Day11 Days Hiking
18.42 Miles Per Day12 Days Hiking
17.00 Miles Per Day13 Days Hiking
15.79 Miles Per Day14 Days Hiking
14.73 Miles Per Day15 Days Hiking
13.81 Miles Per Day16 Days Hiking
13.00 Miles Per Day17 Days Hiking
12.28 Miles Per Day18 Days Hiking
11.63 Miles Per Day19 Days Hiking
11.05 Miles Per Day20 Days Hiking
10.52 Miles Per Day21 Days Hiking
10.05 Miles Per Day22 Days Hiking
9.61 Miles Per Day23 Days Hiking
9.21 Miles Per Day24 Days Hiking
8.84 Miles Per Day25 Days Hiking
8.50 Miles Per Day26 Days Hiking
8.19 Miles Per Day27 Days Hiking
7.89 Miles Per Day28 Days Hiking
7.62 Miles Per Day29 Days Hiking
7.37 Miles Per Day30 Days Hiking

Before thinking about the specific details of your resupply strategy it’s important to figure out what the total length of your trip will be. A good way to start is to figure out how many miles you are comfortable hiking per day. on the John Muir Trail hikers typically hike about 9-13 miles per day. There’s a ton of really good trail journals out there so you can see what others have done and adapt that to your hike. 

The following considerations can help answer the question of how long your hike will be.

What type of experience are you looking for?

This sounds funny, but it’s important. Do some quick soul searching about why it is you’re doing the JMT. If you’re just fed up with society and want to detach completely from society then you’ll probably going to be planning a much longer trip than a peak bagger. Neither experience is necessarily more superior than the other, but it will definitely influence your plan and therefore influence your resupply strategy. 

How big is your bear canister?

Most people don’t think about this until the day before they leave for their hike and realize they physically cannot fit all of their food in their bear canister. The National Parks Service requires you to use a bear canister. Bear canisters do come in different sizes. If you resupply at more of the resupply points you won’t have to carry as much weight, and also won’t have to purchase the largest bear canisters. Click Here to see what the National Parks Service has to say about bear canisters. 

Are you in backpacking shape?

Try to be as realistic as possible with yourself on this one. If you have never really been backpacking before and aren’t an experienced hiker then don’t expect to be hiking 15 miles a day with a heavy pack. Remember that being “in shape” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in good backpacking shape. Carrying a 40 pound pack for 10 miles up 5,000 feet of elevation is a lot different lifting weights in a gym. If you’re newer to hiking do some training hikes and see how your body responds to hiking long distances uphill.

How will you resupply yourself on the JMT?

On any long-distance hike, theres typically two main ways to resupply yourself. One way is to buy as you go, the other way is to mail resupply packages to yourself along the trail. We’ll give you an overview of each method but also take a look at the JMT resupply FRQ’s down below. Here’s an overview: 

Buy as you go

Buying as you go on long-distance hikes means that you’re purchasing food from supermarkets and convenience stores along the trail. On the JMT, there’s not a lot of these opportunities. Typically hikers of the JMT do not resupply themselves solely on a buy-as-you-go strategy because the lack of availability of food.

The downside to doing this is you’re at the mercy of the small shops. The money you save by not shipping boxes is quickly made up by higher prices at the small stores along the trail. There’s also no guarantee what the store will have in stock. If you have dietary restrictions, this gets even further complicated.

The Tuolumne Meadows Store is a popular place to purchase items. It’s pretty well stocked generally. It’s located in the same building as the post office that many JMT hikers mail resupply packages to. The other location where you can purchase food is the Reds Meadow Store. About 26 trail miles south of Red’s Meadow is Vermillion Valley Resort, which also has a small store. No promises about what items any of these locations actually have in stock. If you want to be picky, we recommend relying on resupply packages.

The buttons to the left are direct links to the website for those various stores. 

Mailing Resupply Packages

Most JMT hikers will receive resupply shipments while hiking. One of the biggest advantages of mailing resupply packages is you know exactly what is coming and get the food that works best for you. Along the JMT there are 6 main resupply points that people mail packages to.

Frequently Asked Resupply Questions

Which shipping method do I use?

In general for long-distance hiking resupply boxes, USPS is the preferred shipping method. In our experience this is for two main reasons:

  • It’s typically cheaper than UPS/FedEx
  • Some of the most common resupply points are USPS Post Offices (Generally USPS will not hold FedEx or UPS packages for general delivery at Post Offices)

Along the JMT, two of the resupply locations are Post Offices.

Click Here to read about USPS Flat rate shipping boxes

Some resupply locations have a preference as to which shipping method you use. Some even have different addresses depending on the Shipping Method you use.

UPS and FedEx are considerably more expensive. Most thru-hikers don’t use these shipping companies unless USPS will not deliver to a specific location or if the location will not accept USPS packages.

At Trail Supply Co. we only use FedEx and UPS for one of the reasons listed above or if we need to get a package overnighted to a customer. In emergency cases it’s helpful to have that option.

Click Here for pricing information about UPS

Click Here for pricing information about FedEx

How do I address a resupply box?

This can vary depending on the location you are shipping to.

In general, if you’re shipping to a Post Office, we suggest addressing your box like this:

Your Name
c/o General Delivery
City, State Zip Code

On the JMT there’s only two non-Post Office Resupply points. Check out our list of resupply points for specific addressing information

Do locations charge to hold boxes?

On the JMT the two post offices will not charge you to hold a package.

Red’s Meadow does charge. Generally it’s $40. Click Here for specific information

Vermilion Valley Resort does charge. Generally $25. Click Here for specific information

Muir Trail Ranch does charge. Generally it’s $75. Click Here for specific information

Mt. Williamson Motel does charge non-motel guests. Generally it’s $75. Click Here for specific information

Boxes or Buckets?

Some people use 5-gallon buckets to ship their supplies in. In general, USPS flat rate boxes are most common for thru-hikers. Buckets are popular if you’re concerned about bugs getting into your food. There are a few resupply points that require you to use a bucket over a box, which is rare. Most will just make sure you tape up your box completely to protect it from critters.

Can you ship fuel?

Many people think that you cannot ship the type of fuel that works for most backpacking stoves. However, there are ways to do this.

The most popular backpacking stove fuel (used with jetfoils, MSR, Whistperlite International, etc.) is isobutane. Isobutance can be shipped but not by air shipping. So standard USPS ground shipping will work for isobutane. DO NOT use USPS Priority mail as many of these packages get shipped via air shipping. Many people do this and get away with it but it is technically not allowed.

Isobutane and many other fuels must be shipped using the ORM-D designation. This is a special consumer commodity and a label must me affixed to the exterior of the package.

This is just been our experience, But you need to do the research to figure out if your type of fuel is shippable. Check out this page by USPS and see if your fuel is allowed.

There actually will be some fuel available to purchase along the JMT. Tuolumne Meadows likely will not have any for sale, although you can contact the general store at the beginning of the season to see if they will stock it. You can find their contact information here. Vermillion Valley Resort, and Red’s Meadow commonly have fuel available for sale as well. You can find their information on the page I linked to above.

Is food caching allowed on the JMT?

No.

Caching food means dropping off a package somewhere with the intent of coming back to get it later. This is not allowed on the JMT and is extremely frowned upon. It is actually illegal. You will either receive a citation or have your cache taken by officials.

However, food is allowed to be stored in the food lockers by the Wilderness Permit issuing station in Tuolumne Meadows. This is mainly useful to hikers that are starting their hike at the Happy Isles trailhead. If you do decide to leave food in the lockers make sure you label the food with your name and the date you will be retrieving it.

Links to Other JMT Pages

We’ve put together a lot of information about the JMT. On this page you’ll find a general overview out the trail. Here’s some links to our other pages that have other specific Information about the trail. 

Are you hiking the JMT this year?

Trail Supply Co. has a complete resupply service that will pack and ship your resupply shipments for you. Use our custom built resupply planning application to build each box and we'll handle the rest. Want to learn more? Enter your email address below and we'll send you all the information you need. We're excited to work with you! 

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