The Sierra High Route (also called the Roper Route) is a cross-country hiking route, long, through the Sierra Nevada. It was scouted by Steve Roper and described by him in his book Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country (1982; 1997).
In cross-country backpacking terminology, a "route" is an unmarked passage through the wilderness. Without a trail to follow, hikers must find their way by consulting the route finder’s descriptions, their topographical maps, and their compasses. Sometimes it is necessary to send members of the hiking party ahead to scout terrain. As well, hikers may use GPS devices to pinpoint their location. Writes Roper in Sierra High Route, "High Route adventurers will not be put off by the lack of an actual trail, since much of the singular joy of cross-country travel lies in wandering through the timberline country as the pioneers did—wondering what the next turn will reveal.
Much of the Sierra High Route runs parallel to the John Muir Trail, staying east of that trail and keeping above the timberline to higher elevations—between 9,000 and 11,500 feet (2,743 and 3,505 m.). About a third of the route follows maintained hiking trails (including 28 miles [45 km] of the John Muir Trail); the rest of the route traverses off-trail meadowlands, granite slabs, and, at high elevations, difficult loose-talus terrain. Hiking the route does not require advanced mountaineering skills, but the hiker occasionally encounters class-3 rock faces in which footholds and handholds must be carefully chosen and tested.
Very few people have hiked the entire Sierra High Route in one trip. Roper divides the route into five segments: