SCOTTISH-AMERICAN naturalist John Muir is probably best known for his roles in the creation of Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Club. A man whose words and actions influenced president Theodore Roosevelt to consider innovative wilderness conservation programmes that would later establish the Yosemite National Park.

John Muir, who was born and raised in Dunbar, was a self-taught mountaineer and botanist, and his love of nature carried him around the world, but his favourite place on Earth, was always Yosemite. John Muir would have celebrated his 182nd birthday this week, and in his honour the team at Yosemite Mariposa County have put together a Muir-inspired itinerary that visitors can do once they can get back out in the fresh, open surrounds of Yosemite National Park. Muir did this on foot, but we suspect that hiring a car might make things easier these days. Here are some highlights:

Day 1

After flying into San Francisco, pick up a hire car and drive south to the garlic capital of the world, Gilroy. As you leave Gilroy, you’ll see a number of old barns and houses that date back to Muir’s era.

Heading into the Central Valley keep heading east to the historic town of Coulterville and overnight in the Vacation Station – it features train cars that have been transformed into cottages, right next to the Northern Mariposa County History Center on Highway 49.

Day 2

Breathe in the fresh morning air of the foothills as you embark on the second part of your John Muir “ramble” toward Yosemite National Park itself. At the Big Oak Flat gate there are some great “selfie” opportunities and a visitor information centre. Once inside head for Tioga Pass, the highest highway pass through the Sierra Nevada mountains at almost 10,000 feet (only open in summer and early autumn so be sure to check the conditions). Muir camped all along this high plateau region, filled with hiking rails for all fitness levels and points of interest, such as Soda Springs.

Day 3

Start the day with an easy hike that combines the John Muir Trail with the Mist Trail which takes you to the lovely views of Vernal Fall, a popular subject for artists. When you get back to the valley, reserve plenty of time to see all the exhibits at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and the adjacent Yosemite Museum. After lunch it's time to head to Glacier Point – one of the most well-known photographs of John Muir is the one taken atop Glacier Point with President Roosevelt in 1903. When night begins to fall it's time to put up your feet and enjoy a quiet evening in a cabin, vacation house, or at the Wawona Hotel for a relaxing finish to your John Muir Yosemite journey.


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