In September of 2014 nearly 5,000 acres were burned during what became known as the Meadow Fire. The park service believes it was started by a lightning strike.
The fire burned an extensive area north and south of the John Muir Trail, east and northeast of Little Yosemite Valley.
The map, below, is a compilation of data from a number of sources. The green, orange, and red areas represent increased levels of burn. The blue line shows the trail. Hikers who intend to begin their John Muir Trial hike from Happy Isles (far fewer this year due to changes in the way permits are issued) will likely encounter this stretch during day one or day two. Depending on your level of fitness and hiking speed, the location of the burned areas could present a challenge. Hikers who get a Happy Isles “Pass-Through” permit are prohibited from camping in Little Yosemite Valley. Instead, they will either have to camp just short of the affected area, where a reliable water source is unlikely to be found, camp within the burned area, which is likely to be unpleasant, or walk all the way through, which means more than ten miles the first day.
Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem, and much of the area that burned was full of dry, dense underbrush. The scar on the terrain from this fire will last well beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this post, but it could have been very much worse. For JMT hikers, this will be the first of two significant burned areas to walk through. The next will occur on the first day out of Red’s Meadow.
Good hiking, Ray