photo of Rosemarie Meadow on the upper part of Bear Creek, John Muir Wilderness, CA

  Bear Creek

  John Muir Wilderness

Rosemarie Meadow

Bear Creek Backpacking Trip Resources

Books and Maps

Elizabeth Wenk and Kathy Morey's John Muir Trail is one of the best available about this famous trail. Tom Harrison's Mono Divide Map covers the entire Bear Creek region.


High Sierra Pack Station

For an extended trip up Bear Creek, consider being packed into a base camp by local packer High Sierra Pack Station. Located at Lake Thomas A. Edison, they can pack your gear into your base camp while you make the trek on foot. Or if you would prefer, you can go on horseback along with the packer.

Wilderness Permits

A Wilderness Permit is required for each party camping overnight in the John Muir Wilderness. Sixty percent of the wilderness permits for the John Muir Wilderness can be reserved ahead of time. The other 40% are on a first-come, first-served basis, available up to 24 hours in advance of departure. For Bear Creek Diversion Dam trailhead, 6 overnight hikers may obtain reservations for a permit per day. Another 4 slots are available first-come, first-served.

For such a remote trailhead it is wise to have a reservation. Since the Bear Creek Diversion Dam trailhead is in Sierra National Forest, they are the agency that issues the permit. Reservations may only be made by mail and must be made at least 21 days prior to departure. There is a $5, non-refundable charge for each person included in the wilderness permit reservation:
Wilderness Permit Reservation Application

Permits may be picked up as early as 48 hours prior to departure at the designated ranger station. Permits must be picked up in person by noon of the departure date. For the Bear Creek Trailhead, use the Prather ranger office:
High Sierra Ranger District, located along the highway, just east of town.
29688 Auberry Road (PO Box 559), Prather, CA 93651
(559) 855-5355     Open 7 days a week, 8 AM to 4:30 PM

Backcountry Regulations for the John Muir Wilderness

  1. Bear canisters are recommended, but not required.
  2. Campfires are discouraged above 9,000 feet and prohibited above 10,000 feet.

More about Wilderness Permit Reservations

Wilderness permits are available by mail from 21 days up to 1 year in advance of your departure date. You will receive a confirmation letter of your reservation. You then must pick up your permit in person at the designated ranger station no earlier than 48 hours before your trip and no later than noon on the day of your trip. Permits are not mailed. Nor can reservations be made by phone.

Wilderness Permits - General Information

A wilderness permit is required for each party camping overnight in the John Muir Wilderness. The maximum number of people per party is 15, but many Sierra National Forests trailhead quotas are less than that. There is a daily quota of overnight hikers permitted to enter at each trailhead. No permit is required for day hikers. Sixty percent of the daily quota of hiker slots may be reserved ahead of time; the other 40 percent are kept as first-come, first-served. If any of the slots available for reservations have not been taken, they are also available for first-come, first-served. These walk-in permits may be picked up beginning 24 hours before the day of your hike.