Muir's March For Hetch Hetchy Valley In Yosemite National Park To Offer More Routes This Year

Though summer is months away in the High Sierra, it's not too early to start thinking about joining "Muir's March" in support of draining the Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite National Park.

This year there will be many more options for folks to show their support for the cause, from week-long treks to one-day hikes and even four-day "kids" hikes.

The fourth annual edition of Muir's March will occur from July 29 to August 4. The march, which takes backpackers and hikers into scenic areas rarely experienced by tourists, raises awareness and funds for the campaign to bring the Hetch Hetchy Valley back to life. The treks literally and figuratively follow in John Muir’s footsteps, and are open to anyone who can raise a minimum of $90.*

John Muir called Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." Despite his urgent pleas, in 1913 the federal government approved San Francisco's request to clear-cut and flood the valley for use as a reservoir. The decision horrified wilderness-lovers and helped spur the creation of the National Park Service and the international environmental conservation movement.

Prior to its destruction, Hetch Hetchy Valley was one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and home to thousands of plant and animal species. Muir’s March is part of Restore Hetch Hetchy’s ongoing mission to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural splendor, while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River.

"Last year, record numbers of activists participated in Muir’s March, helping to call attention to the devastation of -- and the hope for -- this rarest of natural treasures," said Mike Marshall, executive director of the non-profit group Restore Hetch Hetchy. "As momentum grows to restore Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, we have expanded the number and breadth of routes that follow Muir’s footsteps – from the Tilltill Valley to Muir Gorge to the waterfalls of the Tuolumne River."

Muir’s March participants can choose from 6 scenic treks, each led by an experienced guide, and varying in length from one to seven days, where they will enjoy stunning vistas, camaraderie, campfires and stories. Space is limited, so participants are encouraged to sign up early.

The treks will converge August 4th atop the O'Shaughnessy Dam for a rally and celebration. Hikers each raise $90 or more* to participate with the funds used to support a campaign to educate San Francisco voters and lawmakers and win their approval for the restoration project. Hikers and backpackers of all skill levels and ages are welcome. Several of the trips are organized specifically for families.

The Muir’s March guided treks:

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, 7 days - This is the most strenuous course and follows the Tuolumne River down into the Pate Valley, up to Table Lake, and then back down to the banks of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. This is a 45.4-mile trek which includes Muir Gorge and Rancheria Falls. Many dramatic waterfalls are found in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.

Valley to Valley, 7 days – A 42-mile journey beginning in Yosemite Valley. Marchers will experience some of the most scenic parts of the park as they follow the Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and the Middle Fork trails. The highlight of the hike is the spectacular view of the Hetch Hetchy Valley from the top of Smith Peak.

The Backcountry's Backcountry, 7 days - This is a 46.1-mile trek, which begins outside the park at Twin Lakes. The first day, marchers will climb up over Buckeye Pass and then traverse the most remote section of Yosemite down through the spectacular Jack Main Valley.

Tilltill Out'n'Back, 4 days -This is a 20-mile trip from O'Shaughnessy Dam, along the north end of the Valley, past the waterfalls, through Rancheria Falls to Tilltill Valley, and back along the same scenic route.

The Kids Trip, 4 days - This 15 mile trip is especially designed for families with young kids. We'll begin at White Wolf and hike a short distance to Hardin Lake. After an afternoon swim and overnight stay, the trek meanders to Smith Meadow, where the intrepid drop their packs and hike to the top of Smith Peak to watch the sunset. The final day will require an early rise for the scenic trail to the O'Shaughnessy Dam.

Camping and One Day Hike, August 3 and 4 -- This is a guided or self-guided 3 mile roundtrip stroll out to Wapama Falls. Join marchers for 2 nights of camping, including "Muir's Feast" on Friday night and the Restoration Picnic on Saturday to greet all the other hikers as they converge on O’Shaugnessy Dam.

To see the routes on a map, visit this website. You can get more information on any of these options by visiting www.muirsmarch.org or by calling 415-956-0401.

*Fundraising requirements vary according to hike length, from $90 to $2100. Hikes are 1, 4 and 7 days in length.