The Sierra High Route (SHR), a trek designed by Steve Roper to traverse the High Sierra, is near the top of my list of hikes to complete. Spanning the same distance as the John Muir Trail (JMT), the SHR stays high where the JMT dips low. In fact, the High Route doesn’t dip below 9,000 feet at all! Most of the route traverses the trailless backcountry, and, thus, carries the risks and beauties associated with such remote areas.
Roper lays out a detailed account of the route in his book, Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country. It’s an entertaining and well-written book and I’d recommend it to any outdoors person interested in hiking any part of the Sierra Nevada. After reading about the route, I decided to map the waypoints described in the text on an interactive CalTopo map; I’m a visual person and I got a lot more out of the book by examining the map as I read.
In 2018, I hiked several sections of the high route. While I intended to complete the entire trek, wildfires and smoke combined to create unsafe conditions on the northern (Headwaters and Canyon Country) sections. I’ll be back to finish them in the future, though!
Embedded below is my interactive map of the Sierra High Route. Waypoints and paths are color coded:
- Red: General waypoints along the route
- Blue: Passes along the route
- Orange: Alternate routes suggested by Roper
- Black: Mountaineering opportunities identified by Roper
Clicking on any one of the markers on the map will open a dialog box with notes I paraphrased from the text. The CalTopo site supplies the tools for you to swap out the base layer and overlay all sorts of visuals, including park boundaries, forest fire information, and satellite imagery. Additionally, it is relatively simple to create your own custom PDF maps in as high or little detail as you like!
Please note that I offer absolutely no guarantee that the instructions included with the map will keep you safe and happy on the Sierra High Route. I’ve done my best to interpret the route described by Roper, but I’ve only hiked three of the five sections and can’t (yet) vouch for the headwaters and canyon country sections. That being said, this interactive map allows you to explore the route from the safety of your home!