One of the United States’ original national scenic trails, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through Yosemite on its 2,650-mile path from Mexico to Canada. More than 100 miles of the PCT within and outside the park overlap with another famous long-distance trail, the John Muir Trail.

Thousands of backpackers enter Yosemite via the PCT/JMT each year, but the park has limited data on who is hitting the trail. In order to protect the trail’s wilderness surroundings and ensure high-quality hiking experiences, park managers need to learn more about how many people use the popular route and how they interact with the landscape.

This 2019 grant supported the early phases of a project to illuminate PCT/JMT travel patterns. With your support, researchers worked on designing studies to improve the park’s understanding of how, and how many, people are using the trail, and how those hikers and campers perceive wilderness. Researchers will use results from the studies to create tools the National Park Service and other agencies can use to model and adapt to shifting visitor use, and to improve trip-planning resources.

Your gifts funded the initial phase of an important research effort to help improve wilderness experiences and protect habitat along a celebrated long-distance trail.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and University of California, Merced.