TST FAQs

Where is the Theodore Solomons Trail (TST) located?
What areas does the TST travel through?
Is this an official trail?
What is the condition of the trail?
How long is the trail?
Who is Theodore Solomons?
Are there any maps of the TST?
Are there any guidebooks?
What is the elevation profile?
Which direction does the trail run? Northbound or southbound?
How many mountain passes are there on the TST?
Where can I get more info about permits, trail conditions, resupply locations, logistics, etc.?
Is the TST just a John Muir Trail route alternative?

Where is the Theodore Solomons Trail (TST) located?
The TST travels through the middle Sierra Nevada wilderness in California. Its northern terminus is located at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park; its southern terminus is located at Cottonwood Road near Mt. Whitney.

What areas does the TST travel through?
The trail goes through Inyo National Forest, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Forest, Sierra National Forest, and Yosemite National Park and visits Golden Trout Wilderness, John Krebs Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, Kaiser Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, and Yosemite Wilderness

Is the TST an official trail?
No, the TST is not recognized by any government agency. The TST is an unofficial trail, which means that there are no trail markings and no signage. The TST was created in 1974 by connecting already existing trails from Yosemite to Kings Canyon along the west side of the Sierra Nevadas. A lack of recognition and attention to the trail has resulted in the trail being largely forgotten and has fallen into disrepair.

What is the condition of the trail?
Large portions of the TST have not been maintained in several decades and have become overgrown to the point of being non-existent. Smaller portions are covered in blowdowns and require scrambling over fallen trees. Use of map and compass are necessary to navigate the TST.

How long is the TST?
This is a question of great debate. There is no complete set of TST GPS data in existence to tell us how many miles the trail “officially” is. The first guidebook stated it to be 271 miles, while a later guidebook would claim 290. Mileage gleaned from current maps sets it at 280 miles.

Who is Theodore Solomons?
When naming the TST, the trail’s creator initially named the trail the Kelty Trail In honor of the company who sponsored his hike, but changed it to the Theodore Solomons Trail in honor of the explorer and early cartographer of the Sierras. Theodore Solomons envisioned the idea of a Yosemite to Kings Canyon route when he was only 14 years old. When Solomons was 19, he scouted the route that would become the John Muir Trail. Mt. Solomons in the high Sierra was named for him.

Are there any maps of the TST?
No, you will not find the TST on any map. All the trails that make up the TST can still be found on current maps. An online map that traces the TST route can be found here.

Are there any guidebooks?
Yes. Two guidebooks have been published about the TST, Dennis Gagon’s Guide to the Theodore Solomons Trail and Gary Buscombe’s A Hiking Guide to the Theodore Solomons Trail. Both books have gone out of print in paperback form, but are both available for Kindle on Amazon.com.

What is the elevation profile?
The TST tops out at 11,388 feet at Elizabeth Pass bottoms at around 4,200 feet. The total gain is around 40,800 feet, the total loss around 38,000 feet.

Which direction does the trail run? Northbound or southbound?
It depends on who you ask. The trail’s creator, Dennis Gagnon, published his guide going southbound. A few years later, a second guidebook published by a different author outlines the trail heading northbound. The best answer is just to HYOH.

How many mountain passes are there on the TST?
9 passes. Going NOBO: Cottonwood Pass, Coyote Pass, Elizabeth Pass, Avalanche Pass, Granite Pass, Crown Pass, Potter Pass, Fernandez Pass, and Merced Pass.

Where can I get more info about permits, trail conditions, resupply locations, logistics, etc.?
There’s a Facebook group called the Theodore Solomons Trail Hikers. It appears to be the only forum dedicated to the sole discussion of the TST. Go check them out. They’re a helpful, friendly bunch.

Is the TST just a John Muir Trail route alternative?
The TST was originally conceived as a lower elevation alternative to the TST, but due to its current condition is not a viable alternative route for most hikers. Thru-hiking or section hiking the TST requires use of map, compass, and GPS to successfully navigate through miles of lost trail and blowdowns. The TST is a rugged, primitive trail in comparison to the better-known and well-maintained JMT. Bridges are unreliable or non-existent; bridges that get washed out along the TST are rarely replaced. The passes on the TST sit lower than those on the JMT, but can be covered in snow well into summer. Water is less plentiful along the TST due to its lower elevation with many of the trail’s creeks running dry by early summer. There are no water reports. Prepare to carry plenty of water and plan ahead.

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