Backpacking the High Sierra Trail takes months of planning and preparation, but it’s also a lot of fun. Reviewing the maps, planning your itinerary, plotting your campsites and filling out your gear helps build the anticipation. Here are a few essential resources that will help make your thru-hike on the High Sierra Trail a success.
A good guidebook can be a great start to your planning. Plan & Go | High Sierra Trail provides great details on how to get permits, how long it takes to hike, when to get a permit and the tricky transportation options. It’s available in both paperback and a Kindle version.
You should also get these two Tom Harrison maps:
The Tom Harrison maps are waterproof and durable, and provide mileage between junctions and major landmarks. Between these two maps, you’ve got what you need to hike the High Sierra Trail as well as plenty of interesting side trips.
Even though I carry a GPS device, a paper map never runs out of power and shows you a much bigger area, much faster. You should always have a paper map when you’re in the wilderness.
That being said, I highly recommend GaiaGPS. I use it on my iPhone–it’s also available for Android–and it’s indispensable. With GaiaGPS, you can download the GPX files for any of our hikes here on SoCalHiker–including the High Sierra Trail–and the associated maps for the area you are hiking. With your phone in Airplane Mode, the GPS will still track and GaiaGPS will show you exactly where you are and which direction you’re heading.
These are the planning and navigation resources that I recommend for thru-hiking the High Sierra Trail. If you’ve discovered other resources that you think should be included here, please leave a comment and let me know.
Greg Glass says
Plan and Go/High Sierra Trail book is great!
Randy Pearson says
Jeff, Thank you for your awesome posts. A quick tip about Gaia on an iPhone or Android phone. I love Gaia and use it a lot.
I use an old iPhone and throw a data SIM in while hiking. It works excellent and I do not worry about damage to my everyday phone. And it works in airplane mode as you stated when data is not needed.
A Google Project fi data SIM has no monthly fee until data is used so I am not burning $ in between outings.
Hi Jeff, thanks for the info. Just a quick question. Did you hire a guide on this hike? I’ve been planning to step on the High Sierra trail too but a friend of mine told me that I’m going to need more than just maps. The area is just too vast.
Would you be willing to post a list of what you packed in your backpacks for the trip? My husband and I are thinking about doing this and would love to get an idea of what gear we should have. Thank you!
Rick Wilborn says
Am recent author of Blu-ray titles:
High Sierra Trail Virtual Aerial Tour and John Muir Trail Virtual Aerial Tour.
Should be of interest here as products.
805 766 6573.