Resupply Strategy for the John Muir Trail

It’s no secret that we planned the JMT in a grand total of 48 hours. One of the most common concerns / questions we heard from friends and family was about how and what we ate. Due to the length of the JMT, there are certain spots along the trail where you need to pick up a resupply of food. Resupply days meant extra treats (and once a carton of boxed wine), but also a pack with full food weight the next day, so we had very mixed feelings about them. Though we failed to double check all of the math, we ended up budgeting the correct amount of days for each food drop! Yay! Our resupply strategy was as follows:

Drop #1: Red’s Meadow Pack Station and Resort

We reached Red’s Meadow on day five of our trip, and not a moment too soon. Most people opt to eat lunch or dinner at the cafe there, but Alex and I had the strategy of just eating everybody else’s extra snacks they ditched out of their resupplies.

Red’s Meadow is accessible by car. It was about a 30 minute drive from the town of Mammoth, and our only charge was a $3/day holding fee for our bucket. To ship to Red’s Meadow, follow these instructions:

In a five gallon bucket with your food, taped a shipping label with the following information –

Your Name
Red’s Meadow
Resort P.O. Box 395
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Additionally, you must ship a $40 check or your credit card information to this address with this form filled out and enclosed

Red’s Meadow Resort
P.O. Box 395
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Red’s Meadow was our favorite resupply for sure! Even if you opt not to have a food drop for you there, we highly recommend taking some time to hangout at the resort. For a fee, you can shower, do laundry, and there is a fully stocked camp store as well. For any additional questions or information about our first resupply stop – check out the Red’s Meadow website.

Drop #2: Muir Trail Ranch

Four days after Red’s Meadow, we arrived at Muir Trail Ranch – the halfway point of the JMT! People usually opt to stop here OR at VVR, our decision came down to the fact that MTR was a shorter detour and required less days of food carry to our third resupply. Also, we heard that the hiker boxes (unwanted food + gear) were absolutely legendary. Muir Trail Ranch itself is not accessible by car, but we were able to drive our resupply to Florence Lake and have them boat it across for us. We had to pay a $30 fee for each bucket that we brought, as opposed to an $85 shipping fee per bucket. Though the road to Florence Lake was a bit rough, we were not able to ship it because you have to do so three weeks in advance.

For everything you need to know about shipping or hiking in a resupply to Muir Trail Ranch, check out their website here.

Drop #3: Onion Valley Campground

With our itinerary, a third resupply was a necessity. Many hikers are able to get to Whitney from Muir Trail Ranch without an extra stop, but seven days worth of food was plenty heavy enough for us. We opted for one extra resupply at Onion Valley – a 15 mile roundtrip detour from the JMT. The major plus about this location is the absence of any fees – at the campground right next to the trailhead there are a few large bear bins to accommodate thru-hikers. All that is required is a label with your name and expected date of arrival, and the resupply will be right where you left it.

If you’re not able to drive a bin to the campground (or have a lovely friend hike it in for you), you can ship a box to the Independence Post Office. I personally would not recommend this, as it will not only require a 15 mile detour but also hitching a ride into the town from the campsite. But, if this sounds like a fun adventure, you can ship either a box or a bucket with this information:

Your Name
c\o General Delivery
Independence, CA 93526

We took advantage of our detour to Onion Valley and spent the night camping and half of a rest day at Kearsarge Lakes, which ended up being one of the highlights of our trip. Kearsarge Lakes are a bit of a detour from the JMT, so without these resupply we would have missed this awesome stop!

We were extremely lucky to be able to drop two of our resupplies up on our way back from the summer road trip. A mixture of poor planning and the logistics of the situation actually made our strategy cheaper. Most people opt to save the miles on their car and ship their resupplies, which is totally doable, but an extra chunk of change for sure! So, to make it easier for anyone hoping to plan their JMT trip, here are the resupply options which we did not take advantage of:

Tuolumne Meadows Post Office

We opted not to stop at Tuolumne because we got there on day two and we thought it would have been completely unnecessary. However, with our aggressive first day it would have actually been really nice to have started with light packs and pick up a resupply there. To ship to Tuolumne Meadows, label your package as such:

Your Name
General Delivery 
Tuolumne Meadows Post Office 
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

For absolutely everything you need to know about the Tuolumne Meadows resupply and general store, check out this website.

Vermillion Valley Resort

We heard great things about the atmosphere at VVR (rumor is you get a free beer), but it made more sense for us to choose to resupply at Muir Trail Ranch. For instructions on how to ship to VVR, as well as information about accommodations, their website has it all.

Choosing your resupply locations is a tricky but crucial aspect of preparing for your thru-hike. For us, our decisions came down to where we would be able to drive and what made most sense with our 18-day itinerary.

To see how these resupplies fit into our trek as a whole, check out our full itinerary in this post.

As promised, we are working on sharing everything from Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado this summer. Expect to see some exciting content from our road trip later this week!


1 thought on “Resupply Strategy for the John Muir Trail

  1. Your planning and organization were top notch.
    Thanks for the education!


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