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Find out more: Who is John Muir?

John Muir. Credit: National Park Service

If you are planning to walk the John Muir Way, it’s worth knowing a bit about the trail’s namesake. While Muir spent most of his life in America, he was born in Scotland and he is remembered in his birth country thanks to the long-distance walking route from Helensburgh to Dunbar.

Theodore Roosevelt with John Muir. Credit: Wellcome Images

Muir's earlier years

John Muir was born on April 21, 1838, in Dunbar, East Lothian. He died on December 24, 1914, in Los Angeles, California. He was a renowned naturalist, writer and campaigner of US forest conservation.

Acclaimed as the Father of America’s National Parks, Muir is credited with the establishment of Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park.

Muir emigrated from Scotland with his family to a farm near Portage, Wisconsin, in 1849. Then, in 1860, he headed to Madison and attended the University of Wisconsin for the next three years.

His career began in industry but an accident that almost cost him his eye sent him in another direction - and from then he devoted his life to nature.

Words from Muir inscribed on a memorial to the conservationist. Credit: Lorie Shaull

A focus on nature and wild places

While walking form the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, Muir kept an journal and after he died this was published as “A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf”.

Muir was a keen conservationist and as early as the 1870s he was calling for the federal government to adopt a forest conservation policy.

Muir believed that national parks and forests should be preserved and that industry should not be afforded access or rights to the land.

Further, in 1892, Muir founded the environmental organisation, the Sierra Club. Muir was president of the club until his death. He used the club as an outlet for writing about – and rising awareness of – environmental issues.

Muir’s writings are considered as hugely influential in US conservation policies. In fact, in 1903, the then president Theodore Roosevelt joined Muir on a camping trip to Yosemite.

In 1908 came the creation of Muir Woods National Monument in California, and, in 1964, Muir’s home in Martinez, California, was designated as a national historic site.

He is also considered a major influence in the creation of Mount Rainier National Park in 1899 and Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.

His legacy lives on in America’s John Muir Trail, Scotland’s John Muir Way and also his many writings, such as the Mountains of California and Our National Parks (1901).

Walking the John Muir Way

Highland Transfers can transport your luggage if you want to walk or cycle the John Muir Way. Don't hesitate to get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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