Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
13,709.00 ft (4,178.50 m)
Trail type
81.90 mi (131.80 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The route from Piute Pass Trailhead to Sawmill Pass Trailhead is an 82-mile point-to-point in the Eastern Sierra. It is recommended as a backpacking route, and will require a shuttle. This route links both pass trails by utilizing the Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail (PCT/JMT), and side trips are nearly abundant for the ambitious hiker. See below for links to permit information and regulations. Bring a bear canister and be aware of snow conditions!

Parking at both trailheads is free. From the Piute Pass Trailhead at North Lake, make sure that you take the Piute Pass Trail instead of the Lamarck Lakes Trail. Follow the North Fork of Bishop Creek along the trail for the 4.7 miles to Piute Pass (11,417ft.). The iconic Humphrey’s Basin is accessible from the pass, but for our purposes, we shall continue west, descending into Piute Canyon and hiking next to Piute Creek. At the trail junction near mile 17, head south on the PCT/JMT, and continue up along Evolution Creek to begin the long climb toward Muir Pass. McClure and Colby Meadows are fantastic scenes, though the mosquitoes can be a nightmare at times. This is just before reaching one of the prettiest places in the range, the Evolution Basin. At Muir Pass (11,975ft.) sits Muir Hut, an emergency shelter as well as memorial to John Muir, built by the Sierra Club in 1930. Nearly 12 miles of descent awaits after Muir Pass, following Middle Fork of the Kings River into Le Conte Canyon and passing the spectacular Grouse Meadow. Stay on the PCT/JMT as it veers from the Middle Fork and onto Palisade Creek. Some of the finest peaks in the range, the Palisades, are just to the north here. At Mather Pass (12,067ft.) near mile 57, the descent on the south side can be relatively intimidating, and flat out dangerous in snowy/icy conditions. Be prepared with proper gear! Pinchot Pass (12,090ft.) is a much easier challenge not far to the south. Near mile 70, take the junction onto Sawmill Pass Trail for the final stretch. Woods Lake is a great send-off for this journey, just before reaching Sawmill Pass (11,309ft.). The Sawmill Pass Trail is a long descent into the Owens Valley, with one final chance at a good camp near Sawmill Meadow. 

Hikers will pass through the John Muir Wilderness in Inyo National Forest and enter Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Wilderness permits are required for backcountry camping, which can be found at For more information regarding advisories, weather, road conditions, campgrounds and more, check out the Inyo National Forest website at, and the Sequoia-Kings Canyon website at Practice the principles of leave no trace, and take action to defend threatened wilderness areas (

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Nordic Skiing Permit

Open Year-round





Mountain vistas. Solitude. Lakes and rivers.


Mosquitoes. Becoming more crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

9,552.00 ft (2,911.45 m)

Highest point

12,090.00 ft (3,685.03 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California


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