This guidebook gives comprehensive information about the trail, with a focus on going southbound (SOBO). The book gives plenty of useful information for planning your hike (transportation, resupplying, other logistics), and includes a myriad of maps, data tables, and campsite information (and detailed descriptions of the trail itself). You can purchase either a paperback or kindle version, and there is also a separate data book available as well. For those going northbound (NOBO), Wenk created a special NOBO version (kindle only).
This is one of the most popular set of maps on the trail. This set includes 13 maps (1:63,360) covering the entire trail. They’re waterproof, light, and detailed enough to navigate the trail.
This map is ‘pamphlet form’, so there are no individual map sheets to deal with. The maps also include elevation profiles which can be very helpful when planning (it’s nice to know whether your day will involve lots of hiking up or down).
This atlas includes topographic maps, data tables, logistical information, and ton of other extras, making this a worthwhile choice as well.
Other books for the trail
This guidebook discusses a number of relevant trailheads and areas, including: Happy Isles, Cathedral Lakes, Sunrise High Sierra Camp, Lyell Canyon trailhead, Tuolumne Meadows, and Glacier Point.
This guidebook discusses a number of trailheads and areas south of Tuloumne, including: Rush Creek trailhead, Agnew Meadows, Devils Postpile trailhead, Duck Pass trailhead, Kearsarge Pass, Mt. Whitney and Horseshow Meadow (Cottonwood Pass and Cottonwood Lakes trailheads).
Apps for your smartphone
Many hikers download this app and use it on the trail (uses GPS to show your location, no need for cell service). Many hikers make exclusive use of electronic resources like this one while actually on the trail (make sure to bring a map as a backup, of course!), so be sure to download it before your trip. It’s especially useful for calculating your daily mileage.
This is another popular option for using GPS on the trail.
An In-depth Comparison of Five JMT Guidebooks and Maps
Not sure which guidebook or map is appropriate for your upcoming trip along the John Muir Trail? Roleigh Martin, the lead moderator of the Yahoo JMT Group, conducted an in-depth analysis of five popular JMT guidebooks and maps to help hikers select the most suitable option for their needs and preferences. You can view his analysis here: “A Comprehensive, Multi-Dimensional Comparison of the Five John Muir Trail Map Packages/Guidebooks” (*shared with his permission).