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This is such a unique hike! You get good views of Lake James early on and they don’t stop as you reach the top and beyond. Lots of ledges to look out on and plenty of great camping spots along the way and at the top. Not a big time commitment either - Really loved this hike.

I did this hike today and it was very nice. The view is so beautiful at the end! The hike isn’t too strenuous and I would rate it moderate to hard at the very end. Be careful with yellow jackets (there was a nest), I got stung and ended up with a severe allergic reaction and a rescue team had to come get me. So if you’re allergic, take your pen/meds with you!

Amazing views well worth the trek up the mountain side, the hike will take your whole day. One of my favorite places in the smokies for sure.

This place rocks. Fun to play / picnic by the creek at the main parking lot... or hike up in the hills. Super fun!

Mentally tough but rewarding hike.

Amazing and very rewarding hike!!! Make sure you bring enough water. I ran out right after hitting the top ( I took 1.5 liters) Thankfully I was hydrated enough to walk back down to the falls(probably 4 miles) to get more. Totally worth it!!! I was glad I had trekking poles with me, I would definitely reccomend to do the same!

This was one of the most beautiful hikes to date.. I highly recommend it but be ready, We did it in 4 hrs but well worth it!!!

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!

Hard hike but worth every minute!

First thing to note is that this is a different trail than looking glass falls which several people seemed confused about. The only water fall is a very small one near the start. The trail is not steep but the 3 miles out is entirely uphill. The view at the top is definitely worth it though!

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!

2 days ago

i love this hike. not for non hikers.

AWESOME TRAIL! The Alum Cave makes a great, scenic half-way point to sit and rest or eat. The second half is way more strenuous, but SO MUCH FUN! Even though it was foggy at the top, the lodge was a joy and the hot chocolate was pleasant. Looking forward to doing this one again.

hiking
3 days ago

We planned to hike this, but access was closed and we would have had to drive an hour to another access point. We hiked Surprise and Amphitheatre instead. Nearby and awesome hike!

hiking
3 days ago

We planned to hike this, but access was closed and we would have had to drive an hour to another access point. We hiked Surprise and Amphitheatre instead. Nearby and awesome hike!

Lovely views, lovely hike. The climb is never steep, just steady and moderate. We hiked up for sunset and soaked in our first Eastern sights of the Milky Way along with a hand-full of meteors from the Perseid shower. Other than a few passers-by, we had the place to ourselves.

This was our second time taking this trail up to the lodge. Beautiful trail and the views at the top are amazing. Unfortunately on this trip at the top the fog and clouds were socked in. Still worth the journey up there.

on Half Dome Trail

hiking
3 days ago

Did this hike on July 13th, weather was amazing and we got very lucky to finish this hike before the fire. Definitely an ass kicker but if you’ve trained for it you’re fine. I took 4 liters of water and was fine but my friends took less and filtered water at the river. Apply and reapply sunscreen because the sun is on you for most of the trail. I recommend getting a harness for the cables because although it doesn’t make it easier going up, you do have a sense of security just in case. Take it slow, it’s a great adventure worth taking your time for.. Take lots of pictures and have fun!

AMAZING! Very technically challenging with scrambling required especially on the approach to the summit. The wildflowers stretching up the side of the mountain face in July is a sight not to be missed! :-) _/|\_ <3 When you reach the summit, you see great views of the Salt Lake Valley and neighboring peaks. I will have to come back to conquer Monte Cristo another time ...

This trail was beautiful! We hiked to the bluffs and the view there was fantastic! The scenery, bridges, arch and so much more made this trail very interesting. Something different at every turn. Will do this one again.

People are insanely unprepared for this hike. Energy levels are showing way to low and the main hike to the top hasn't even started. The chains are a huge help, but this isn't for the average "walker" or tourist in a pair of snickers. You must be prepared for this, hydrated and the proper footwear. Seriously people! no more near misses- this trail will close permanently

This s one of my favorite hikes of all time!! I've done it several times. Incredible!!!!!I would recommend going early in the morning ( at least in the summer) the sun can be pretty brutal.

Great workout. Not a scenic “hike”.

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

Amazing hike. Nice seeing the different types of plants as the elevation changes. Leconte is awesome! We saw a large black bear driving there early in the morning as well. it poured half the trip but it was still 100% worth it.

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!!

Loved the scenic trail and the destination is breathtaking! Hike is very strenuous but worth it in the end!

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