Explore Hikes to do! - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hikes to do! Map
VIEW FULL MAP

How much water should I carry? For anyone having gone recently, I have a water filter, are there streams, etc to get water along the way (and therefore carry less)? I’m planning on going 8/26

backpacking
1 day ago

This is an absolutely spectacular backpacking trip in the Sierras. Old growth forests, massive granite walls, alpine lakes, mountain pass, rivers....everything. We just completed the counter clockwise loop in 4 days. We spend the first night at Vidette meadow.
We started around 9am, got to Junction meadow at 4ish, decided it was worth it to push up to Vidette (after a bit of rain in Junction). So glad we did that, made day 2 a lot shorter and more time at Rae lake, which we arrived on the second day at noonish. Glen pass is tough either way you go. Rae Lakes is stunning and I found out why so many people told me this is one of their favorite places on the JMT.
The hike out of Rae descends into the canyon, and you will be exposed to the hot sun, nearly the entire way to upper paradise. We didn't leave Rae until 9am because we were drying out our gear in the sun from the heavy morning dew. I wish we left earlier and just packed a wet tent.
Upper paradise is shaded, heavily treed and beautiful. We had a small bear waltz through camp that evening. We got up early on day 4 and made it to the car by 1030.

I prefer to CCW direction, however many said they prefer the CW route. I like to get the elevation out of the way and then rest at Rae and head down hill, instead of climbing out of Rae lakes, just my take.
Few things:
-The bugs are swarming along the first 5 or so miles in each direction. GET A BUG NET...Seriously.....
-Start hiking early each day to avoid afternoon monsoons or HOT sunny weather.
-no issues with any crossings (the water is shin deep where the bridge is out)

I have been on dozens of backpacking trips throughout the sierras and this is one of my favorites.

What an amazing accomplishment. we summited whitney June of last year. after a big snow season, the switchback were still not open (completely covered in snow) Had to out on spikes and climb straight up 2,000 ft. Met two gentleman on the summit which were doing the PCT. It was only us 4 up there that early. Coming down the scree was so fun. Glissading down 2,000 was a blast. Not so much for my fiance as she was yelling at me in fear. All in all, not bad at all. as a day hike it would kick anyone's ass, backpacking and staying at trail Camp, the hike was not too bad. Until you come back to your car and your car battery is dead.

Hiked on Aug. 16, 2018.
TIPS/COMMENTS
(I won't go over food or water here since so many reviewers have already stressed the importance of both).

Amazing hike! Absolutely beautiful! Next time, I want to backpack!
Favorite part: Going up the 99 switchbacks as the sun started to rise. Least favorite part: the section from Trail Crest to End of Pinnacles. This part is technical. Lots of slippery rocks.

Definitely rid your vehicle of anything scented. I saw a bear at the trailhead right by a parked car.

Leaving at 12:15 AM was worth it. The night sky was special and it remained dark until the 99 switchbacks. The darkness actually made time go by very fast.

I noted on my map the time it would take us to get from point to point according to a 9 hour ascent time and an 11 hour ascent time. This was so HELPFUL and MOTIVATING. For example, on my map I noted that the segment from Whitney Portal to North Fork Lone Pine Creek should take 30-35 min. Which meant that arrival time should have been between 12:45-12:50 AM. I highly recommend doing this. Breaking this hike into small goals worked!

If you're hiking in the dark like we did, don't wait to fill up on water until Trail Camp. The water isn't easy to find in the dark. Instead, fill up beforehand. Also, just know that the water is cold and your hands will probably get wet.

Finding some privacy to pee wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

I would recommend wearing pants. At times, I needed all warm layers: long-sleeve, fleece, hat, gloves, etc.

Changing into a fresh pair of socks at the summit felt great.

I popped 600 mg. of ibuprofen at the start of the hike. I heard that it can help to alleviate elevation sickness. As for elevation sickness, I was perfectly fine until I started to descend. Maybe I should have popped more ibuprofen on the way down. I think I might have stayed at the top for too long ( 1 hour and 40 minutes). I got a headache and a tiny bit of nausea that made descending for the first few hours suck. I had to get well past Trail Camp before I started to feel better.

In hindsight, a pack cover wouldn't have been a bad idea. While descending, I got caught in a thunderstorm just after Trail Camp that drenched my pack.

Enjoy the descent. It is going to feel endless, so might as well slow down a bit and take in the fresh mountain air.

What an absolute blast! The trail is well maintained and wide. Talk about spectacular views! I highly recommend for avid and intense hikers!

hiking
2 days ago

We started at the portal at 11:15 pm on 8/15/18 and reached the permit zone around 12:30 am on 8/16/18. Daylight broke through near the end of the 99 switchbacks. I left my backpack at the trail crest and worked our way to the summit. We reached the summit around 7:45 am. It was beautiful! After 15-20 minutes we decided to head down because it was fairly cold and we wanted to avoid the daily thunderstorms. Since we did the switchbacks in the dark on the ascent the return was very enjoyable - wonderful views. The next four plus miles after the switchbacks although beautiful seemed endless. We finally reached Lone Pine Lake and were down to our final 2.8 miles. Running on fumes we finally reached the portal at 2:45 pm. It took us roughly 15 1/2 hours but it was worth it! After eight months of training we conquered Mt Whitney!

Recommendations: Start early (reach Lone Pine Lake by midnight), don't over-pack (we had too much food & water), take it slow & steady, bring external battery for phone camera, wear a buff for warmth & sun protection... and HAVE FUN!

Breath-taking views, the dissent is pleasant, however the return up is pretty strenuous.

Amazing views. Start early (6am) in August and bring water.

Beautiful hike. The switchbacks are devastating. Take your time, hydrate, snack half way through them. Once you're done with the switchback, it is an easy hike to the top. Coming down the switchbacks is not too fun. Trailhead gets packed. Get there early!

I enjoyed the hike but the trail was not always well marked.

backpacking
5 days ago

One of the greatest Sierra hikes I have ever done. We took 7 days to complete the CW loop so we could take our time while on the JMT portion. It was well worth it and highly encourage anyone with the time to do the same. We saw 2 Bears at middle paradise but they never messed with us, however the squirrels at middle Rae Lake did. They attempted to eat into our snack bags within minutes of us taking a break! The trail was in good shape with the exception of the bridge being out at upper paradise (feet wet crossing) and another one just before Bubbs ands Woods creek meet up (easy bolder hop).

Great hike!!! If you want to challenge yourself further, go down to Skeleton Point and back, it should take an extra 2 hours.

My wife and I made the climb on July 16th. For most of the hike, we couldn't have asked for better weather.

We began our journey at 2:15am after eating a solid breakfast. It was warm at Portal, about 70 degrees so I ditched my top base layer quickly. We made it to the camp in about 4 hours.

The dreaded 99 switchbacks were tough, but taking frequent breaks and taking deep, slow breaths helped us acclimate. I feel taking our time here is what helped us avoid altitude sickness later on.

We felt amazing when we reached trail crest... That was until we began the last 2 miles until summit. It was brutal. But, at last, around 11:20am we made it to the summit! It was amazing up there, not a cloud in the sky.

We stayed about 15 minutes and then headed back down. This is one of the few hikes I have ever taken where going down is almost as hard as going up. We slowly made our way down. All was good until the last 4 miles... Lightning, thunder, rain, and hail all came out to wish us well at the end of our journey. We made it back at 7pm, wet, tired, and elated.

Remember to eat every hour or so, drink water frequently, and pace yourself. Also, we wore trail runners, which we wouldn't recommend... You feel every rock and pebble by the second half of the hike.

Good luck!

Excellently maintained trail considering the traffic and geographic conditions. As long as you are reasonably fit, you should be able to make it to the summit that has very rewarding views of the vast Sierra landscape.

We completed the hike with an overnight stop at Trail Crest. We camped the night before at the Whitney Portal Campground, which is a very convenient spot as long as you make reservations well in advance ($24/night for our campsite). We started from Whitney Portal at 8 am, but would recommend starting earlier as the trail up to Outpost Camp can be pretty hot in the summer. The trail is a series of switchbacks even before you get to the infamous 97 switchbacks, but on the whole, the grade of the switchbacks is generally gentle. Outpost Camp is in a pretty meadow with easy access to water and a beautiful waterfall, but unfortunately, it is just 3 miles in. If you choose to overnight here, the tradeoff is a much longer hike (~19 miles) the next day and poorer acclimatization.

We hiked up to Trail Camp for our overnight stay, which is about 6-6.5 miles in, and at 12k ft elevation. There is easy access to water, but the pond is sort of scummy, so make sure you have good filtration plus iodine tablets. The benefits of sleeping at trail camp are obvious, but on the flip side, it is pretty crowded and a pretty boring spot.

We started hiking out to the summit at 4 am the next morning, but again, I would highly recommend leaving earlier (3 am?). It helps to get through the mind-numbing 97 switchbacks before sunrise, and an early start will help avoid a lot of traffic. Most of the trail is one person wide, so you will need to constantly stop to let others pass if you start late. Carry more water than you think you need because there is no water beyond Trail Camp. We carried 9 liters between two people and finished the entire supply on the 10 miles out and back from Trail Camp to the Summit. Also, make sure you have ibuprofen. I developed mild symptoms of AMS despite acclimatizing for 2 nights, and the ibuprofen helped immensely!

So good and easy for kids! Beautiful views at the end, it would be amazing at sunrise/sunset

Great hike overall. Especially loved the constant change of scenery. We saw a brown bear and her cub on the way up, was incredible! The only downside were the bugs, so bring repellent.

hiking
9 days ago

Started at Zumwalt Meadow and extended our hike to include the trail to Bailey’s bridge. From Bailey’s bridge, we began the climb to Mist Falls. We encountered gnats and mosquitoes throughout the entire 12.8 miles. More pleasant wildlife encounters included a bear, a mule train, and a snake. Although the granite stairway to Mist Falls was tough, it was totally worth it to see waterfall.

Just hiked today. Got on trail at 6am, skies were crystal clear. Smoked moved in around 11am. Amazing at the top. Really challenging ups and downs. Sat on the edge of life and death.

Also not 1 mosquito in sight!!

Gorgeous views and a nice cardio if pick up your pace. There are a lot of mules that pass through here, so the steps are sunken in and there is poo every now & again.
There's no way I'd recommend this trail during peak season or a weekend - too many people would make for an annoying hike.

hiking
11 days ago

the nuisance of bugs was minor compared to the overall hike. great views. just challenging enough. looking forward to exploring the other trails in the area

Amazing experience. Trail conditions were very good and the weather cooperated too.

Summited solo yesterday. Wanted to write this so that everyone can succeed in summiting this thing if they want to! Couple things I noticed. Nutrition is crucial to you having a good day. It doesn’t have to be extremely hard if you have a planned nutrition schedule. This is spoken from experience of doing Ultras and Ironman distances, you need to eat every 30 minutes and consistently sip on liquids, no matter what you feel like.

The majority of people I passed weren’t doing anything until they were tired, and then they’d stop and drink and eat. The rule is, if you’re hungry or thirsty, it’s already too late.

My schedule:
Banana before hitting the trail, and an entire bottle of water
-Every 30 minutes, two cliff shot blocks(the packs have a total of 6)
-Every 90 minutes, skip the shot blocks and have a GU w/caffeine.
-always having a water source available to sip consistently.
-some trail mix right before I hit the switchbacks, still maintaining the gu/blocks schedule.
-trail mix at the summit.
-trail mix after the switchbacks on return.
-on descent, maintain nutrition schedule.

Total for the day, I believe I had 6 packs of cliff shot blocks, and 6 GUs, and about a bag of trail mix, around 2k calories, and most importantly, all easily digestible. A pb&j or turkey sandwich is not! I might have missed a cliff or gu, counted the wrappers when I finished.

WATER
I took 2L up with me, and an empty bottle to hold another L because I didn’t want to carry the unnecessary weight. There are MANY places to fill up, so you will not run out of water with this method. That being said, I would make sure to fill up all 3L before you start the switchbacks because there will be no water after that point, and it’s 8 difficult miles from that point up and back. I chose iodine tablets which made the water process easy and the bag lighter; just remember to plop in two tablets into your L of water and put it back in your bag. It needs about 35 minutes to work. I believe I drank 7 liters on the day, but I should have probably had another.

TRAINING
I’m training for tri’s at the moment, but I believe HIIT cardio workouts(spinning, plyo, etc) will get you a long way. Also, doing some distance running/walking, but I hadn’t done over 16 miles with 3k elevation gain before Whitney, and I felt fine.

ALTITUDE
I think it’s important to get up in the area two nights early. I chose to camp at Horseshoe Meadow(highly recommend!!) the first night because it’s over 10k elevation and I live in Santa Monica, which is at 1:) It’s a great and quiet area with some great hikes to get warmed up like Cottonwood Pass which gets you up over 11k. The second night I camped at Whitney Portal which allowed me to roll out of my tent, pack it up, and get started on the hike. NOTE: bears are very real in his campground. They are not the people eating bears, but they are the bag stealing bears, which almost happened to me right before my hike. Be careful where you leave your food at ALL times. But I felt no AMS symptoms ascending, and had a minimal headache on the descent, but I think it was slight dehydration.

THE HIKE:
I started at 2:45am, and did the trail alone. Others are on the trail too, so you might go for periods of time by yourself, but for the most part you’ll see lights ahead or behind you. I wanted to get to the switchbacks by sunrise. I didn’t really stop much, other than to replace a GU/Block supply for a convenient pocket on the pack. I stopped at the stream just down from the second campsite just before the switchbacks to fill up the water. The switchbacks at dawn were amazing; I think it’s risky to do them in total darkness. I went at a pretty good clip and summited around 8:20 or so and took a 40 minute nap on the summit. Unless you’re trail running, the descent will take longer than 4 hours, and 4 hours is VERY fast. I wasn’t trying to break any speed records and wanted to enjoy the day, but I was also using this as a training workout for other events I’m doing, meaning I kept my HR at a firm 130-140 all of the way up. I think I got down around 1:15pm, so I had about 10 hours of moving time with the nap at the top. I also had plenty in the tank because I followed my nutrition plan very carefully, so if a situation had arrived on the mountain, I would have had the energy to handle It. I recommend getting an early start so you can knock off the 7 miles before the switchbacks in the dark; you’ll see them during the descent anyway!

POST HIKE:
Treat yourself to a Whitney Portal Store burger and a beer. You’ve definitely earned it after 22 miles hiked and over a mile of elevation gain. It’s definitely a bucket list hike, and a 14k peak that is accessible to almost anyone with the right plan. Good luck, and remember, drink your water!!

backpacking
13 days ago

Made this Clockwise hike with Dan M (previous review). I’d like to emphasize our selection of camp sights as I felt ours was a great way to enjoy the best part of this loop. If you’re hiking the Rae Lakes Loop why not spend some time at Rae Lakes?

Day 1 - Ranger Station to Upper Paradise

Day 2 - Upper to Dollar Lake. Sure, with an early start, you can make it Rae Lakes, but this would be a tough ~14 mile day with ~3,600’ of elevation gain putting you at Rae late afternoon when most of the better Camp sites are taken. And then since you can only stay 1 night at Rae you’re out the next morning having only spent the evening and night at the best part of this trail.

Day 3 - Dollar to Rae Lakes. This is a short 4 mile hike. The crown jewel of this hike is Rae Lakes. The Dollar Lake stop puts you at Rae before noon, with your choice of any Campsite. We selected the little peninsula in the NW corner of Upper Rae just to the east of the little strait or stream connecting Upper and Middle. We were able to relax here all day, swimming in both Upper and Middle, fishing, talking with the exhausted clockwise hikers coming from Upper and the counterclockwise hikers coming thru the pass. Also enjoyed talking with all the JMT’ers and PCT’ers. This was an awesome, relaxing, well-needed restful day for some Hikers from Louisiana (elevation 12 feet).

Day 4 - Rae to Sphinx - up early to enjoy the views from Glen pass at dawn. It’s all down hill (stairs) from here. This is about 14 miles. You can make it all the way but for us it would’ve been late and we didn’t want to drive the 2 hours back to Fresno on that winding mountain road at dusk.

Day 5 - Sphinx back to the Ranger Station.

If you have 4 nights I recommend this itinerary. If we had to do it over again we perhaps make Day 4 shorter and Day 5 longer.

All in all a great hike! Enjoy.

hiking
13 days ago

We were a group consisting of two 50 year old boys and three 20ish year old men. We did the loop clockwise camping 4 nights. Camping spots were Upper Paradise, Dollar Lake, Upper Rae Lake, and Spynx.
River crossing at Upper was fine as we utilized a log jam roughly 200 yards downstream from the bridge location. The only issues we had was with water filtration due to our filter choices but it did slow us down to enjoy the views and catch our breath. We carried each one liter and I would recommend 2 liters for the pass as its a long haul over to the next fill up area. I would also recommend an early start for the pass as it does get warm fast. We started at 6 A.M. to cross over Glen. Saw bears at upper and spynx.

Awesome bucket list hike with my friends Ben and Zach. Our hike was July 22/23rd 2018. We had done a lot of research and wanted a high chance of success so we slept at the Whitney Portal to acclimate then backpacked up to trail camp and spent an exciting afternoon with heavy hail, lightning, freezing rain, etc. It was definitely extreme weather and we were well prepared so we were able to wait it out and enjoy a gorgeous evening. The views were amazing and the trail is in great shape (better than the local 6 pack of trails in Southern California!). The weather pattern on the mountain had been lightning and hail starting around 1pm each day so we left trail camp around 3am and hit the 99 switchbacks. As many folks have noted, they actually were not that difficult. The sunrise was spectacular as we approached trail crest. The last lag on the backside of the mountain was the most treacherous as it was very icy and made for a slow trek to the summit. We enjoyed the view, had a snack, hydrated and after signing the log we were on trail back down. Our goal was to break camp and get down to the tree line before the lightning and hail started. We were partially successful as we made it about a mile down from trail camp before the lightning and hail started. It was a pretty miserable hiking in the hail, rain, sleet, lightning, with heavy packs on (yes we carried way too much!). Overall a huge success- no one got sick or injured and we all made the summit. It was a bucket list hike that we have wanted to do for a few years so we were all very pleased with the accomplishment!

This is easily the best hike I have ever done! I took 2 and 1/2 days to get out there and get back into mammoth. I would cut out 3 days to do this hike if you can! There is also a river around mile 12 that doesn’t have a bridge or stepping stones so water shoes/ flip flops would be good to bring. I came out the red’s meadow direction because it’s not the big climb out that duck pass would be. The smoke was pretty bad from the Lion’s fire going out Red’s meadow but it’s better than making the climb out! If you’re a fisherman bring a pole with you, fish creek has TONS of fish.

backpacking
14 days ago

I've read somewhere that this is the most often done hike in the High Sierra and it is easy to see why. You really get the taste of just about everything here - from lush meadows, pleasant forests and swift rivers with waterfalls to snowy mountain passes and crystal lakes, and all that beauty in a loop that can be done in a couple of days! You really can't go any better than this.
We did our hike in the clockwise direction in 3 and a 1/2 days and it wouldn't be that difficult to do it in 3 if needed.
On the first day, we started from the permit station at around 10am and reached the Upper Paradise by mid-afternoon. The bridge over the river is still out and we met several groups of people who turned back at the sight of the river that needs to be forded. That said, with hiking poles for extra support and sandals or water-shoes to give you some grip, we didn't really feel that it would be quite that bad. Mid-June, the water reached to just around the upper part of my thighs (I'm 6'1") and I'm sure that later in summer, it will be lower than that (if you're not unlucky with rain).
On the second day, first thing in the morning, we forded the river and hiked up to where the trail meets the PCT/JMT (in the upper right "corner" on the map) and followed those to the Upper Rae Lake where we set up camp at around 5 or 6pm. This was by far the most strenuous day of the hike with 3600+ feet of elevation gain and quite a few up-and-down bits, especially in the first part, which added some extra feet to boot. Nevertheless, the views along this section are just spectacular as you slowly ascend above the treeline, and the lakes themselves are simply breath-taking.
On the third day, we started with the first light in order to reach Glen pass before the sun would soften the snow, making it more difficult and dangerous to walk on. Especially since we didn't have any micro-spikes or snow-axes, we were a bit worried but, as it turns out, with hiking poles and sturdy boots, the pass was nowhere near as bad as we had feared. Later in summer, things are bound to get even easier, but I would definitely think twice about doing this when there is a lot of snow. After you reach the pass, it's all downhill from there and there was no snow at all on the southern side, making the descent a walk in the park. We reached Charlotte Meadows by around 3:30pm and for a moment we debated whether to stick to the plan and set up camp there or hike all the way back to the car. In the end, we decided to take it easy and spent the rest of the afternoon bird-watching, but it's easy to see how one could make it from the Lakes back to the permit station in a day, albeit a fairly hard one.
On the fourth day, it only took a couple of hours to get to the end.
So, in summary, this hike is definitely right there in the top best hikes that I've ever done and I can happily recommend it to anyone who likes the outdoors and is not afraid of backpacking.
As other have said, the clockwise direction seemed easier with the ascent being more gradual, and I also felt that it worked better in terms of dividing the trail into manageable sections in a way that you get to camp by the lakes, which I can't recommend enough.
Finally, while on the trail, particularly in the lower sections, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes - we encountered two, and one of them let us get within striking distance before it started rattling, all coiled up and scary as hell. We froze and it slithered backwards off the trail while still coiled (I didn't even know that they can do that!) never once taking it's eyes off us, so no harm done, but it did scare me a lot. We haven't seen any bears but plenty of deer, a variety of lizards, birds, some marmots and a pika at the top of Glen Pass.

Very nice walk. Just be careful of all the horse or donky shit everywhere.. And that stuff stinks (when your hot, and gasping for air none the less). -1 star for that.. Otherwise beautiful. Great 2.5h round trip for us.

Highly recommend clockwise. Took me 4-1/2 days— hiked out the morning of the fifth day. There was a flash flood at the washed-out (former) Paradise Bridge- I heard some people got stranded for hours on an island in the middle of the river. A couple guys went out to rescue them— was touch-and-go. It was a little scary and also inconvenient, with rushing brown water you could not filter because it would clog/ jam up your water filter.

No-one told any of us there is a log jam- not even 1/8 of a mile downstream- which features a huge tree you can waltz across the river on. This info would have come in handy for a lot of people that day.

This is one of the most stunning hikes you will ever experience... but you’ll have to work for it.

August 6: to the couple of questions posed; there is no real stream crossing required, the rock path is fully exposed across the Tenaya Lake Egress so no wet feet at all. The park is mostly closed now due to Ferguson Fire. Tioga Pass and road is only open access, but would not recommend any hiking to Cloud's Rest for a while. Bad air quality and really bad views. Check here for latest conditions: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5927/ and Half Dome webcam: https://www.nps.gov/customcf/webcam/dsp_webcam_image.cfm?id=81B464BC-1DD8-B71B-0B0F6F15CBA4A034

Load More