The John Muir: Two brothers. One controversial conservationist.

The John Muir

Brothers Hank and Brian Leukart hike the John Muir Trail over 18 days, while investigating the history of John Muir, Ansel Adams, and the native peoples of the California Sierra.

Some people think John Muir was a hero. Others: not so much. The Adventure Brothers hike the famous John Muir Trail (a.k.a. Nüümü Poyo) to investigate the conservationist’s controversial legacy.

Every year, brothers Brian and Hank Leukart meet somewhere in the world to take on an epic adventure. When they set out — well past the end of the summer hiking season — to hike the 211-mile John Muir Trail (a.k.a. Nüümü Poyo), they find themselves up against a slew of unexpected physical and psychological challenges. As they make their way across the Sierra, they discover that conservationist John Muir’s legacy isn’t as straightforward as they once thought, prompting them to reevaluate their fundamental assumptions about environmentalism and mankind’s relationship to the natural world.

Hank Leukart, Director and Producer

Hank Leukart is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, TV producer, Google Product Manager, and adventure addict. He’s passionate about using technology to share compelling, immersive stories, and especially well-versed in launching film projects combining travel to unusual locales with socially conscious issues like environmental conservation, human rights, and education. He’s worked on many iconic documentary television shows, including World’s Toughest Race (Amazon Prime); The Amazing Race, Big Brother, and The American Baking Competition (CBS); and Expedition Impossible (ABC). His first feature documentary, “The Mars Academy” — about NASA scientists helping underserved kids explore Mars with a real spacecraft — recently premiered at the Borrego Springs Film Festival. In addition, his short films “Bears Ears” and “Rattlesnake to Westwater” won awards at the Lookout Wild, Maine Outdoor, and Waterwalker Film Festivals.

Hank Leukart’s Director Statement

After I directed my film Bears Ears — which tells the story of Native Americans in Utah fighting for federal protection of their ancestral lands — I felt inspired to continue telling stories of indigenous people native to the land that my brother and I hike through regularly. The fascinating, undertold story of California’s Native People in the Sierra inspired us to make this film about our John Muir Trail trip. 

Brian Leukart, Director

Brian Leukart is a New York-based filmmaker, product development researcher, and climber. His creative talents include a keen cinematographic eye and the ability to send any conventional situation off the rails and turn it into a rollicking good time. An outdoor enthusiast, he has taken on numerous wilderness expeditions with Hank, including a south-north crossing of Iceland, the West Coast Trail, a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim snowshoe, the Torres del Paine O Circuit, a packraft-backpack from Arizona’s Salt River through the Superstition Wilderness, and a death-defying traverse across Denali over Muldrow Glacier. He’s currently tacking his most ambitious adventure to date: raising his 3-year-old son, Emmett.


Backpack: Alpine
Sierra-Nevada Mountains, Northern California
228 miles
50,419 feet gain — 45,005 feet loss
4,039 feet min — 14,423 feet max

A 18-day hike through the Sierra-Nevada Mountains on the John Muir Trail.

John Muir Trail Backpack GPS track (download GPX or KML)

2 thoughts on “The John Muir: Two brothers. One controversial conservationist.”

    1. We started the last week of September and went to about mid-October. It was very cold and there was a high snow risk during that time, so I’d recommend earlier than that. Hope that helps. -Hank

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