JMT Resupply

Resupply Overview

You will need to resupply while hiking on the JMT. The most common way to resupply is to package up a resupply box and ship it to one of resupply locations along the JMT. As we discuss below, there’s no perfect resupply strategy that works for all JMT hikers. We’ll talk about some of your options and provide you with all the information you need to figure out what works best for you.  

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’re resupply experts are are willing to help you in any way we can. If you have any questions at all please let us know and we will try to help. 

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 JMT 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 and where do I mail resupply packages to the JMT?

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 7 main resupply points that people mail packages to. 

On this page, we’ve given you all the information you need to know about each of the 7 popular JMT resupply points. Check out the map above for mailing address info, contact info and coordinates. These are the 7 popular JMT resupply points:

Resupply Points and Distances

Resupply Service

Trial Supply Co. has an entire resupply service that packs and ships your resupply packages for you. We’ve got an awesome web application that makes planning your JMT hike super easy and a catalog of 400+ items. Simply tell us what you want in each box and we handle the rest.

This is an awesome option for beginning hikers that need help making a plan, international hikers that are coming to the US from another country or hikers that don’t have the many hours it takes to prepare all these shipments.

Create a free account on our resupply service page to get started or contact us if you have any questions.

Tuolumne Meadows Post Office

If you started at the Happy Isles trailhead (most common starting point) you’ll hike through Little Yosemite Valley and eventually end up in Tuolumne Meadows. The Tuolumne Meadows Post Office is a popular place for hikers to ship their first resupply package.

It is not uncommon for hikers to skip this resupply point and head straight to Red’s Meadow. Some hikers skip it because its only 25 miles and a few days into your hike. I discuss the pros and cons below. 

One thing on the Tuolumne Meadows Post Office that you should be aware of is that it’s not open year round. In fact, in big snow years it’s not uncommon for the post office and road to be closed well into late June. Click here to see historically when the road has opened.

The pros to shipping a box to the Tuolumne Meadows Post Office is that you get to do the first 25 miles of the JMT with a lighter pack. There’s close to 6,000 miles of elevation gain in the first 15 miles of the JMT which is much more difficult to do with 60ish miles of food (distance to Red’s Meadow from Happy Isles) than it is to carry just 25 miles of food. Also, the post office is very close to the trail.

The cons of resupply at Tuolumne Meadows are mainly the extra cost incurred with shipping an additional resupply box. If you’re not as price sensitive then I would definitely recommend shipping a box here. The other main con is that it can be a few weeks into hiking season before the Tuolumne Meadows post office opens, as discussed above. 

Red's Meadow Resort

Red’s Meadow Resort is 38 miles from the Tuolumne Meadows Post Office or 60ish miles from Happy Isles. Red’s Meadow is a popular resupply point for JMT hikers because of its location. It’s a nice stop before the next resupply points and is only a mile off the trail. 

Red’s Meadow Resort is more than just a spot that will accept packages, they are a full service resort. If you contact them early enough in the season you can reserve a room in a cabin, motel room or communal hiker cabin. A popular shower and milkshake stop.

Red’s Meadow charges a $40 fee to hold resupply packages. They request that you mail your payment to them via this form about 2 weeks before you mail your package. They have to transport your package from the mammoth lakes post office to the resort so that’s mainly what you’re paying for.

Some important things to know about Red’s Meadow is that you must ship using USPS because the packages are getting shipped to a PO Box. Check our resupply map above for the address. They are open from 7am to 7pm 7 days a week during the season and will not return any unclaimed resupply packages.

If you’re using this resupply point then you’ll have to go to their website and fill out this form. Red’s Meadow suggests you have your package arrive at least 2 weeks before you plan to pick it up. IN ADDITION, you must print and mail the authorization form and your payment 2 weeks before you mail your package.

Mammoth Lakes Post Office

Shipping a resupply package directly to the Mammoth Lakes Post Office is an option hikers have if they don’t want to pay to have Red’s Meadow pickup their box. There are shuttles from Devil’s Postpile the Campground to Mammoth Lakes which is about 8 miles.

Some people like shipping boxes to the Post Office because they want to go into the town for other reasons. Mammoth Lakes has all the services to be expected has all the small town amenities such as a drug stores and grocery store.

We recommend shipping your package to Red’s Meadow and paying the extra $40 to have them hold it for you.

Vermilion Valley Resort

Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) is about 28 JMT trail miles south of Red’s Meadow. You can either get to Vermilion Valley Resort off of the JMT via a ferry across Edison Lake (most popular) or hike around the lake. There’s a fee for the ferry and sometimes the ferry wont run in low snow years. Go to this page of Vermilion Valley Resort’s website to learn more about the schedule and cost of the ferry. They also have detailed directions on their website about how to hike there.

Vermilion Valley Resort offers more than just package pickup, they have accommodations as well. They offer two free nights camping in their designated hiker camping area and can even provide you with an actual bed in their hostel for $15/night. If you’re looking for something nicer they have yurts and motel rooms as well. Make sure to book these reservations early!

Many hikers ship resupply packages to Vermilion Valley Resort. They accept UPS, FedEx and USPS packages but prefer UPS or UPS. If you ship via UPS there is a different address you must use. Packages are limited to 25 pounds and they request you put your name and estimated arrival date on 4 sides of your package. They charge a fee of $27 to transport and hold your packages. If you’re picking up a package in May, September or October then they charge $65. All payable upon pickup. Check our map above for addresses.

It’s not uncommon for hikers to skip this resupply point. Many opt for Muir Trail Ranch instead which is about 23 miles south of the JMT/Vermilion Valley Resort junction. Muir Trail Ranch is only about 1.5 miles of hiking off the JMT. Our opinion is that Vermilion Valley Resort makes for a great zero day if you’re someone that’s taking it slow and wanting to see everything.

Muir Trail Ranch

Muir Trail Ranch is another one of the most popular resupply points along the JMT. It is about 23 trail miles south of the Vermilion Valley Resort/JMT junction or about 51 trail miles south of Red’s Meadow. While it is true that Muir Trail Ranch is a popular resupply point it’s also important to point out that they have many specific requirements for shipping packages here.

Muir Trail Ranch offers additional accommodations and services to hikers beyond being just a resupply pickup. If you want to learn more about Muir Trail Ranch’s sleeping and meal accommodations go to this page of their website. Make these reservations VERY EARLY in the season because they book up fast.

You should check out this page of their website and read it thoroughly about how items need to be shipped. Here’s some important things to know about shipping your boxes to Muir Trail Ranch:

  • All of your items must be shipped in a 5 gallon bucket with a top taped on
  • You must ship using USPS
  • Buckets must weigh no more than 25 pounds (or there’s an extra fee)
  • You must register your buckets with the ranch before you send them
  • It cost $80 per bucket that you pay when registering
  • The Ranch is only open from 8am – 5pm

Trail Supply Co. has lots of experience shipping buckets to Muir Trail Ranch on behalf of customers. Want us to do it for you? Create a free account and place an order. Any questions? Contact us.

Mt. Williamson Motel

Mt. Williamson Motel is another resupply option for JMT hikers. Deciding whether or not to resupply here can be difficult and there are definitely tradeoffs. There’s definitely some pros and cons of resupplying here. 

The pros  If you do resupply here, it’s about 63 JMT miles from Muir Trail Ranch and an additional 7 miles off the trail to get to the Onion Valley parking lot where their shuttle picks you up. The reason this is a pro is you’re only carrying 70 miles of food between resupply points in contrast to the about 110 miles of food you’d be carrying if you didn’t stop here.

The cons It adds expense, miles and time. Mt. Williamson’s resupply package (which includes quite a bit) are $185/person or $345 for a pair. As stated above, the parking lot where they pick you up (which is included in their resupply package) is 7 miles off the trail which adds a total of 14 extra miles to your hike. If you don’t resupply here, you’ll be hiking from Muir Trail Ranch to the very end, Whitney Portal, which is about 110 miles.

Not stopping at Mt. Williamson Motel means that you’re going to be carrying 10-13 days of food from Muir Trail Ranch. It’s totally possible and lots of people do it but that’s not realistic for everyone.  If this isn’t something you’re comfortable with then you should use Mt. Williamson Motel resupply.

I recommend you go to their website and contact them if you have any questions about their motel and service.

Check out the next section on the Independence Post Office as an alternative.

Independence Post Office

If you have decided that you don’t want to hike the 110 miles straight from Muir Trail Ranch to Whitney Portal then your two main options are resupplying at either Mt. Williamson Motel or the Independence Post Office. If you can pay to get a reservation at Mt. Williamson Motel, as discussed above, then you’ll have a ride from the Onion Valley Campground to the motel. If you don’t want to pay them then you can always ship a box at not holding cost to the Independence Post office. 

To get here, you exit the JMT at the Onion Valley Trail towards Kearsarge Pass. You’ll hike 7.6 miles east of the JMT to get to the Onion Valley campground. From there you can either hitch hike or arrange a ride into the town of Independence where you can pick up your package from the Post Office.

Check out the map above for the Independence Post Office location, address and coordinates.

Can I just buy as I 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.

It’s very likely you will have to ship yourself resupply boxes on the trail. If you’re worried about the logistics of all this because you’re busy or coming to the US from another country then let us do it for you. We have an entire resupply service that will do all of this for you.

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

Make suer to write on the exterior of the package: 

HOLD FOR JMT HIKER
ETA
PHONE NUMBER

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 $27. Click Here for specific information

Muir Trail Ranch does charge. Generally it’s $80. Click Here for specific information

Mt. Williamson Motel does charge non-motel guests and they don’t likeit when non-guests ship them packages. Click Here for specific information. If you’re a non-guest then just ship your package to the Independence Post Office instead. 

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 planning a JMT hike?

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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