Our guide book for walking from San Francisco to Yosemite:


The Muir Ramble Route
Walking from San Francisco to Yosemite In the Footsteps of John Muir
A guide for hiking from San Francisco to Yosemite by Peter and Donna Thomas
With an account of the original 1868 trip by John Muir


Laura Finnegan's travel blog

Mr. Half Dome's Review

Link to reviews on Amazon Books

Ken Pulvino of the John Muir Highway Project

Publication Information:

Author: Thomas, Peter & Donna.
Title: Muir Ramble Route
Subtitle: Walking from San Francisco t Yosemite in the Footsteps of John Muir
ISBN: 978-0-9824276-6-8
Publish Place: Madera, CA
Publisher: Poetic Matrix Press
Publish Date: 2010
Edition: First edition
Description: 187pp. Octavo [23cm] or 6 by 9 inches.
Binding: Paperback
Annotation: This book is really three books in one. It is a guidebook for a walking/cycling route across California that follows John Muir's footsteps from San Francisco to Yosemite via the Pacheco Pass. It is an adventure book, telling the story of Peter and Donna Thomas' 2006 ramble across California to discover that route. And finally it is a history book, presenting in its entirety and for the first time, the complete story of John Muir's first trip to Yosemite. That trip was taken in 1868, the year before Muir's 'First Summer in the Sierra,' and it has never been published before, existing in obscurity, in Muir's various writings, until it was reconstructed by Peter and Donna in preparation for their walk to Yosemite in his footsteps.
Category: Hiking Guide
Price: $19.50



Just What It Says It Is
By John Birsner

This labor of love is the culmination of years of research on how to retrace John Muir's 1868 "ramble" from San Francisco to Yosemite. The challenge for the authors was how to contend with all the "civilization" of the 21st century Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley and still make someone consider, attempt and relish the effort of this 300 mile journey themselves.

The book is broken down into seven trip sections starting with taking the ferry from San Francico and ending at Sierra Club's Le Conte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite Valley. Since John Muir did not keep a specific journal of this, his first trip to Yosemite, the Thomases have seamlessly woven together in Muir's own words from other writings, the route of his trip, how he did it, and what he saw along the way. Then they did it themselves.

Peter and Donna obviously did a tremendous amount of research but this book does not feel ponderous, overly scholarly or environmentally preachy. Rather, they ask themselves throughout: are we traveling in the literal footsteps of John Muir--difficult to do when contending with a major highway; are we traveling in the spirit of Muir--continually enthralled by the beauty of this traverse of the state. And they succeed for themseves and for the memory of Muir and for the rest of us who might want to try this journey of both body and spirit.

This guidebook leaves little out but the effort and focus and optimism a user should be prepared to expend to meet it halfway. The directions are meticulously detailed with any number of options in how to negotiate this combination of urban, suburban, exurban, agricutural and finally, pristinely wild habitat that the Ramble entails.

It may seem strange to discuss ferry schedules, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Bay Area hotels and restaurants, taxi companies, light rail and carpooling in a book that deals with Yosemite, but all that information is truly needed in this instance. Each section, in addition to careful mileage outlines, Donna's lovely maps, and Peter's own journal entries, has a Resources section that includes transportation, accomodation options, side trips, map sources, books, and particulaly contacts for planning a particular leg of the trip. And all legs can be done in any or no particular order though late spring is the best time of year.

The authors' hope is obviously that their Muir Ramble Route becomes, if not some "official" trail, at least increasingly more available to the hiker wanting to walk in the steps of this John Muir adventure. They fully realize we cannot turn back the clock but they challenge all to see the potential in finding the glory of the outdoors everywhere, starting even as this trip does in the densest jungles of civilization. The Thomases are to be commended for their efforts. And we, who like to hike, bird, botanize, look at Bridal Veil Falls, and long to find beauty wherever we are, with a little effort on our own, will benefit from this unique guide.
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Go out and Walk!
By W. D. Frank "Nose in a Book, Feet on a Trail"

There are those of us who love to walk. I have always dreamed of what I called "walking projects." To those with such dreams, this book is a wonderful contribution. To those who admire John Muir and who have wished to emulate his physical achievements this book is a warm and encouraging guide on how to get out and do so. I have, as of this writing, completed section one of the walk so well detailed by these authors. I will never forget it. I can't wait for spring to come so that I can continue. This book gives much of the detail needed so that one can answer the question "could I actually walk to Yosemite from Oakland??" with a resounding and joyful Yes! The directions given are wonderful, giving the feeling that one is walking together with an experienced guide. The reader is helped along at every step, where to turn, where one might sleep or eat. I cannot say enough about the diligence of the authors in preparing the way for what should eventually be a famous trek, The Muir Ramble Route.
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A Wonderful Contribution to American Trail Literature
By Fritz R. Ward

One of the iconic moments in California history is the oft told story of John Muir's arrival in San Francisco. Where do you wish to go, he was asked. "Anywhere that is wild" he responded. And thus he set off on a journey that would lead him to Yosemite and change the history of conservation in the United States forever. Important as this moment was for US history, there has not, until now, been a complete narrative of Muir's first trek through California. As the authors of this book, Peter and Donna Thomas discovered, Muir's account of his arrival in California and hike to Yosemite was scattered about in letters, unpublished journals, and a few later publications. One of their tasks in this book was to not only reconstruct the route, but also Muir's account of it. In this latter task, they have succeeded admirably, and have given Muir's own words about his discovery of California to a popular audience for the first time. This account is worth the price of the whole book. Almost seamless, Muir's writing about his discovery of California is a classic of trail literature and is long overdue in print.

But the authors wanted to do more than just piece together Muir's route from San Francisco to Yosemite. They wanted to recreate it as well. Using old and contemporary maps, they discovered that Muir's route was still walkable. Most of it, however, was on what today are paved public highways. Because none of the route follows modern interstates, walking along the route is legal, but as the authors note, it is not always scenic, to say nothing of safe. Instead they propose a "Muir Ramble Route" (MRR) that follows the spirit of Muir's hike if not always the precise route. Thus they suggest those who want to follow Muir take the Bay Side trail south from Oakland toward Gilroy. If they miss the precise route by a few miles, potential hikers are at least compensated by Coyote Hills Regional Park, a gem in the East Bay Regional Parks District. Like Muir, modern walkers will be astounded by the spring wildflower display there. Similarly, the MRR traverses Henry Coe State Park, thereby cutting off a portion of what is now Hwy 152, but those who follow this route will be rewarded with seeing land in the Diablo Mountains that have hardly changed in the century and a half since Muir arrived.

Ultimately, the authors hope their Muir Ramble Route will become a major hiking/biking route, complete with hostels and campgrounds along the way. This would be a premier "green" vacation destination. I somewhat doubt they will see their wish fulfilled. The Pacific Crest Trail, John Muir Trail, and Tahoe Rim Trail, all summer thru hikes, receive all the attention among long distance walkers. This is unfortunate, because a long spring time route like this would be a real boon to the list of California Outdoors Adventures. But the real value of this book is that preserves Muir's account. Read alongside the authors' contemporary account of their own journey, one immediately sees what has changed in California over the last 100 years. Even more important, one sees what has been preserved. By all means, get it and see for yourself.