The Theodore Solomons Trail (TST) is an unofficial 271-mile hiking trail through the Sierra Nevada. From Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park to Horseshoe Meadow in Inyo National Forest just south of Mt. Whitney, the TST is a connection of existing trails that travels through 2 national parks, 3 national forests, and 7 wilderness areas.
Despite the publication of two guidebooks in the 1980’s, the TST never gained much popularity. Its lower elevation, drier climate, and rugged trail could not compete with its more famous cousin to the east, the John Muir Trail. As a result, large portions of the TST have remained unmaintained for many decades and in some areas the trail has disappeared altogether.
The conception of the TST is credited to Dennis R. Gagnon, who created the route using existing trails through the middle Sierra wildnerness over the course of two summers. Gagnon’s original intent was to find a lower elevation alternative to the John Muir Trail, which he found to be too crowded. In 1974, Gagnon published a brochure with a description of the route. He would later publish a guidebook, Guide to the Theodore Solomons Trail.
Before discovering the TST, most hikers are unaware of who Theodore Solomons is and what significant role he has played in the history of the Sierra Nevada. Solomons conceived of and scouted the route that would become the John Muir Trail. At 14 years of age, Solomons looked at the western slope of the Sierra from his home in Fresno and imagined a route that traveled the high Sierra from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney. He would go on to scout the route over two summers from 1894-1895, mapping and naming many features along the way. Evolution Valley and the surrounding mountains were named by Solomons.
When Solomons route was named after John Muir, Solomons stated that he had “no special objection, that the route, when finished was not named after me, nor has any mountain…Muir is a better name to conjure with– for tourist to take the trail for instance– than Solomons. But mine, the idea. The pioneering.”