Explore Todo: Western United States - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Todo: Western United States Map
VIEW FULL MAP

I did this with two friends on October 26, 2018. We are all in our mid thirties. It was a bluebird day with not a cloud in the sky, and I think it was probably averaged around 40-45 degrees for the entire day. The summit was above freezing for sure when we summited at noon.

Timing:
We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Lone Pine the night before and the night after the hike. We got on the trail at 3 a.m. and summited right around noon. We started our decent at 1 p.m. and got back to the trailhead at 8 p.m. So that’s 9 hours up and 7 hours down.

Dealing with Altitude:
I live in Salt Lake City, so I have access to some elevation and did a bunch of training hikes to 11,000 feet on the weekends to get used to the altitude. The two other guys live at sea level but did their best to hike as much as they could before our attempt. We all ended up getting prescriptions for acetazolamide and starting cycling on that and 400-600 milligrams of ibuprofen every six hours starting about 12 hours before we started out. For two of us, we really had no symptoms of altitude sickness beyond very mild headaches at the top. The other guy got a pretty decent headache that subsided during our decent.

Food:
I think we all ate much less food than I thought we would. I ate two sleeves of Clif Bar Shot Bloks and took a caffeine pill on the way up (which might have contributed to an upset stomach). And I also ate 4-5 Clif Bars, some beef jerky, a pretty good-sized bag of gummy bears, and some nuts. I brought I peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I never even ate, but the other two guys ate their PB & J at the summit.

Water:
I brought four liters of liquid with me. Three liters of water and one liter of Gatorade. My doctor told me to drink a sports drink with the acetazolamide. I ended up drinking 2 liters of the water and the Gatorade and gave the rest of the water to my hiking buddies on the way down. We actually got back to the parking lot with nothing to drink between us all, which is probably not the smartest play. I did bring a filter with me though just in case things got real out there.

Gear:
We all used adjustable hiking poles. We have backup batteries for our headlamps since a good amount of the hike was in the dark. Sun lotion. I had a wide-brimmed hat for the sun. I had four layers on the top and three on my legs and was overdressed for most of the day. I was prepared for the day to be 10 degrees colder than it was. We all had microspikes, but I think I was the only one who used them.

Overall:
The 99 switchbacks might get you down, but once you top out after those, you are pretty golden. That where the trail gets super interesting and the views are ridiculous. The only thing I might do different if I did this again was to try to move a bit faster to get down before dark since spirits were running low for the last couple miles of the decent. Reach out to me if you have any questions about the hike. I’d be happy to talk about it.

Loved backpacking this trail. I did this over three days and two nights. Beautiful views and very peaceful. I loved hearing the waves crash all day (and night). Do your planning and research about trip logistics and high/low tide times. Backpacking in the sand was challenging at first, but I got used to it after a few hours. July 2018.

If you can break this up into two days do it. We day hiked it, left at 2am and back by 6pm. Super long day. Camped at Alabama Hills on the way out.

hiking
4 days ago

The toughest I have ever done!! absolutely worth it! Me and friend went during off season when the cables came down. If that's the case please bring safety equipment (carabineers, harness, leather gloves) if you are planning to do the 400 ft. climb along the face of Half Dome. We did not have that equipment so I didn't do it, because safety always comes first! Have a safe hike guys and don't forget to bring lots of water and salted snacks :)

One for the bucket list.

enjoyed this climb a lot! An plan on doing it again soon for better time now that I know the trail. pretty well beaten path, and when I went there was a good bit of water on the trail, early August, but totally with it 12hr up an down ... I can get that into the single digits though ;)

This hike is amazing. Completed back in August, make sure to leave early, because thunderstorms, snow, etc are big issues. Hiked in a group of 6, and we had such a blast. 7.5 hours up, 5.5 hours down. Beautiful trail, and so many good photo moments. Sunrise, etc.

hiking
9 days ago

Awesome hike with amazing views at the top of half dome. I did this as a day hike in November with the cables down. I left the valley at 630 am right as the sun was coming out and I was the ONLY person at half dome. Had the whole place to myself. The hiking by Vernal and Nevada falls is the toughest part. Half dome is easy with a harness, some rope, and some leather gloves. Half dome with the cables down is a much more enjoyable experience, you just have to be more prepared but definitely worth it! Total hike took 9 hours to the top of half dome and back to the valley, the hike is tough and exhausting but with the appropriate rest and breaks it can be very enjoyable.

Amazing... Simply AMAZING

hiking
18 days ago

Certainly a hike for your bucket list. Just make sure that you get your permits in advance. We tried to get ours on 5 separate occasions and never got lucky. In the end, on our last day in Yosemite, we decided to hike up anyway to see how far we would be allowed to go. As luck had it, we ran into a group of other hikers who had 2 extra permits, so we were able to make it all the way to the top. Otherwise, the permit check is just below Subdome, which means is that there are some views to be had even without the permit, however, they are nowhere near as impressive as from the top and you won't even see the Half Dome at all. The rangers check the your permit against an ID of at least one person in the group, so if you don't get lucky with your own applications, you really need to find a group of people who have extra permits - getting a permit from people who get tired and turn back doesn't help.

As for the hike itself, it is not nearly as difficult as I had expected it to be. That said, it does take a better part of the day, so be prepared for it, head out early in the morning and bring plenty of water, especially if going in summer. The cables look scarier than they in fact are - the only annoying thing about them is trying to avoid all the people going in the other direction, especially if you arrive during a busier day.

On the way back, my suggestion would be to take the John Muir Trail between Nevada and Vernal Falls. It might be slightly longer but offers stunning views of Nevada Falls and is also less steep than the Mist Trail - something your knees might thank you for later.

In all, if you have the chance and ability, I really can't recommend this highly enough!

Dayhike: 10/27/2018

This was such a huge accomplishment. We had beautiful weather and I was able to hike in a long sleeve and long pants the entire time. I would recommend a brimmed hat and something to cover your mouth and nose for the occasional winds. Once we got to the summit, I put on my down jacket. Going down I was really glad I packed microspikes. It gave me piece of mind sailing down the icy patches, otherwise, it would have been slow moving on those parts due to safety concerns.

We started at 4:30am and summited at 2pm. Made it back to the car by 7pm. The last 1.9 miles to the summit was torturous with many thoughts on what I’m doing with my life, why am I doing this to myself and just turning back around. But once you get closer to the skyline and you see the top of the shelter/building, it’s all worth it! You made it to the top!

Final notes:
- I only drank 1.5 liters of the 3 liters packed.
- Walking poles really helped my knees and I’m not as sore as I was expecting after 2 days.
- Trail is very well defined and maintained.
- Better to have an early start so you’re not rushed on time. We had a few people not able to summit due to the late start time and it would have been dangerous for them to go down the icy areas without microspikes in the dark.
- Lastly have fun and be safe! It’s such an great experience!

10/24/2018 -- Day Hike Summited 9:15 , departed 3am from Whitney Portal, Summit 9:15am, returned to portal 3:45pm.

WEATHER AND CONDITIONS
Base weather low 40s, no wind, bright full moon; Summit weather low 40s, sunny, no wind. Trail camp was coldest at dawn in low 30s, slight wind. Packed snow on the 97 switchbacks. A few patches of ice around trail crest. Yaktrax were used only on the descent starting at the snowy section of the 97 switchbacks.

GEAR
Pack was about 12lbs with 48 oz of water, about 2.5 lbs of food. Hiking poles & boots were used. I wore pants, long sleeve, base layer, wind breaker plus a buff and a sun hat. I brought a down jacket and full gloves for emergency--neither were used. Navigation was mostly using BackCountry Navigator app, also had paper map and compass (which helped when I missed a turn on the ascent)

WATER
Started with 48oz in 2 bike bottles. Refilled water upon descent at Trail Pond using a squeeze filter. In hindsight I should have also refilled during the ascent.

HIGHLIGHTS
The full moon made the hike up clear and majestic. Sunrise at Trail Camp was breathtaking. The ascent of the 97 switchbacks was pleasant due to the snow leveling the grade--it felt like walking up a treadmill. The ascent felt quick and painless, but the descent mentally dragged on -- mostly due to foot pain and sun exposure. Nothing unbearable, just less pleasant than the ascent. The sign at the bottom warning that "the summit is only half way" is right on.

OTHER TIPS
* Bring spare socks and rotate every 3 hours. Hang the sweaty ones on your pack to dry and disinfect while hiking. No blisters! Dry socks also improve morale.
* 3/4 of this hike is exposed. Sun protection is a must -- wide-brimmed or desert hat will help both with sunburn and improve morale.
* Buff helps you manage quick temp fluctuations -- cold ears, lips, nose etc
* Hiking with a red lamp will preserve your night vision and let you see farther at night
* 80g / hr is a good rough estimate for food quantity.

Also want to give a shout out to hikingguy.com -- his guide made the trek up really predictable -- every thing you need including trail features and turns are there.

https://hikingguy.com/hiking-trails/best-la-hikes/mt-whitney-hike/

Summited 10/22/2018
Most difficult and rewarding hike I’ve ever done! This was my 2nd try. Trail camp was very cold the first night and there was snow up half the 99 switchbacks. Camelback valves froze in the morning. Still not bad for late October. Altitude and grade are the hardest parts of this hike. Best to acclimate yourself as much as you can before hand and try it in 2 or 3 days like I did. Go slow and breath.

I have holes this 1.5 times and loved it. It is a little steep and there is some elevation gain but it's worth it. My first attempt wasn't successful because a thunderstorm rolled in just after sunrise coming from the East. We were just about to trail crest when it hit. The thunder and lighting were almost instantaneous and then it started to hail. It was scary and a great reminder of the power of nature.

Hiked: 10/20/18

It was great, at the top of the switch backs is when the altitude starts to set in. Just take it easy, it was freezing the majority of the trail, we started at 2:30 and I summited at 2.

It is a very enjoyable hike up, take your time! I descended in only 5 hours so it came out to about a 16 hour trip. My camel back valve froze so bring some warm water and thermals.

It was really icy, if you do not have micro-spikes then take the infamous switchbacks slow!! Have fun and goodluck!

The hike itself isn’t too crazy it’s the elevation gain. I did a day hike in 16 hours but I would suggest acclimation to make it more enjoyable

Vernal and Nevada trail is the hardest part. Once you past that, the rest of the trail is a piece of cake until you get to the sub dome part. Be prepared to scramble your way up to get to the end.

Complete 10-19-18. Most challenging and rewarding hike I’ve ever done.

We started at 430am, summited 11 hours later at 330pm, sat up there for 30 min, headed back down at 4pm & got back to the car at 1030pm so it was an awesome 18 hour day on trail.

It was definitely hard to breath once we got to about 10k ft. Luckily neither of us got altitude sickness or vertigo. We were glad we had micro spikes for the descent. Wear as many pairs of gloves you can fit and the warmest ones you can find. Only thing I wish I’d brought was a buff or any other kind of face covering.

Brought 3 liters of water & a filtration system. Only drank 2 liters, never checked to see if my sawyer squeeze froze but I heard other people’s systems did. Mostly brought proteins to eat, wish I’d brought more carbs.

Check out www.whitneyzone.com before you go!

Completed in one day on the 19th. We started at 3am. There were no online reservations available for camping at Whitney Portal but we drove up anyways to see. There were plenty of walk in sites available as well as one-night only camping next to the overnight parking which was perfect. Make sure you bring tags for anything you leave in the bear boxes.

Hiking in the dark on the trail was incredibly easy and fun. You look up and see a line of headlights but can’t see anything else. It’s nice to not be able to see the elevation you have to climb up and made it go by quicker but at the same time I know we were missing the beautiful scenery.

Once we hit trail camp, it got COLD. Like the other posts, our camelback straws froze and so did our filtration system so we were very appreciate of the people that lent us their help. We kept one straw in our jackets to keep it warm and switched straws out when the other froze. We used micro spikes on the way up and down when there was snow. It made us feel comfortable and it I didn’t have them, we would have turned around. In fact, we passed multiple people who turned around because they didn’t have micro spikes but we all may be just a novice group of hikers.

The last 2 miles were the hardest. It took us 3 hours due to putting on and taking off microspikes and scrambling up parts of the trail.

Overall, a great hike! Completely doable, you just need to be prepared for the worst and want it enough.

Completed same day on October 17th. Started at 0315 Took 11.5 hours. Great conditions - no winds the entire time. Incredibly cold in early morning while dark - camelbak froze many times. Required lots of layers. Once the sun same out a t-shirt was fine. Snow / ice at top of switchbacks and to summit. We wore microspikes down but wasn’t needed on way up. Could have been done entirely without spikes. Long day but rewarding.

hiking
1 month ago

So maybe we cheated a bit on this, and instead of trekking up from Yosemite Valley floor (y'alls that do it: mad props! that's beast mode hiking right there!), we camped out at the Little Yosemite Valley, and trekked up to the rock at sunset to have a nice view with our dinner...
it is NOT an easy hike... esp. the last part (subdome and the cables). by the time we got to the rock, it was about an hour and 15 minutes to sunset, and thank god there were only three people on the cables coming down, otherwise, it was just our group of 6. i don't know if i'd be able to do the cables if there were a ton of people on them... it is sketchy as heck. do invest in good grippy shoes and super grippy gloves. you'll thank both later. our guide gave us a good advice (it goes esp. for those who have the fear of heights): don't look around, concentrate on the next plank in-front of you, and go from plank to plank in counts of five... take all the rest you need.
THE VIEWS ARE WORTH IT!!!
my personal suggestion for this hike would be to break it up... trek up to LYV, spend the night or rest up... and then continue with the trek up to Half Dome, or do it the next day. :)

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Did it 10/14 (first weekend that cables are down). Set off at sunrise, up the Mist trail and back down JMT. Took around 7 hours total with no traffic up to summit. I was actually expecting the hike up to be more strenuous since I’ve just started hiking, but it was absolutely fine. Most tiring bit are the stairs up to sub dome. I had perfect conditions for this and it wasn’t too hot so I survived fine on 2l of water. Saw mother bear and 2 cubs on the way back too!

hiking
1 month ago

Read a bunch of reviews and feel like most are somewhat exaggerated. Did this hike in about 9.5 hours, and you definitely want to start at about 2am. I started at 2:30am by myself, first time hiking in the dark with an REI 20$ headlamp, and what an experience. Couldn’t see but could hear the water falls roaring, and the night critters were frequent on the trail. The headlamp did its job and being up on the cables at sunrise was magical, as well as the dark night sky on the way up. Going down was no problem until vernal/nevada fall, when the trail was packed with people, without much regard for others on the trail. For this I probably would have went JMT, but I wanted to see the things I couldn’t see on the way up. Also the sub dome is not that grueling, and it really only lasts about 20 minutes to the base of the cables.

Didn’t do much training for this, did Four Mile Trail, Eagle Peak, clouds rest, and MT. Hoffman spread out in weeks time. Took 30 liters of water with me and a water filter, to cut down on weight and didn’t have to use the filter (starting in the dark keeps the heat down). Overall awesome experience, happy to do it. Saw loads of people going up as I was going down so start early before 5am if you want to miss that, as there was no waiting on the cables going up or down, which made it easier.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice to have done it but the views aren’t the best. You can’t see Half Dome from Half Dome.

Solid hike. Can be done in 1 night. I left the site at 9am from the campsite and went counterclockwise (see Sweeney review below, very helpful) and went until 5pm, made it most of the way to Lake Vernon but was just too spent from the elevation gain so just found a spot for myself. The next day I took the detours to Lake Vernon and Laurel Lake, finding the latter MUCH more worth it, started at 9am and was back in my car by 6pm. It's doable but I was moving. Set aside some time to get around Laurel Lake, you won't regret it. You get some views of the Lake that are really spectacular and much better than some you get of Lake Vernon. I passed an gentleman on the trail who said he had also camped lakeside at Laurel, and I would recommend that much over camping near Lake Vernon based on what I saw. Per the review below, I agree that the trajectory of the trip gets a little odd if you go clockwise, but there's a way to make it work. Overall, good trail, lots of varied and interesting terrain. lovely views. Will likely do again with friends or family.

Amazing!!! Such a cool bucket list hike. It’s the cables that make it so unique and such a cool experience. Took us about 10 hours round trip. Our feet were hurting at the end and we were definitely tired. Started at 6:15a and found easy parking in the parking lot closest to the trailhead. We were surprised that the parking lot was so full. Met a lot of nice and enthusiastic hikers. Had an amazing day! Can’t believe we hiked half dome!!!! We won our permits unexpectedly for the last day that the cables were up. Pretty lucky!

1 month ago

Awesome hike and definitely a bucket list item. Did it October 6th, took under 11 hours, absolutely gorgeous day and the views are killer as always. Took Mist trail up and John Muir trail back- though the JMT is longer by a mile the grade is much easier on the knees going down.
- while Mist trail is hard especially between Vernal and Nevada Falls, in my opinion Sub-Dome is the hardest part. It lasts forever or so it feels and the cables look easier in comparison.
- second time doing it, not sure I'll do it again but that's what I said 6 years ago so we'll see.

hiking
1 month ago

Okay, so I would definitely recommend training for this intensely. I only did one or two trails that were nowhere near this incline and it took me forever to do this. I am actually pretty apologetic to my friends for adding on extra time, but I didn't want to get injured, and I already fell coming down (no injuries other than a bruised ankle of the tiniest degree.) We started at the closest campground parking lot and walked to Half Dome through Vernal Falls and Nevada and the Valley.

The whole trip took us 16 hours! We started at 4 AM and took a lot of breaks, spent two hours at the top of the Dome, maybe 40 minutes climbing to Subdome, 20-30 minutes climbing the cables, and took even more breaks coming back down because it was worse and really difficult. Our 18.4 mile hike ended at about 7:35 PM! (48-60F weather)

I took 7L of water, which was excessive and probably why I slowed my friend group down a lot. I can get altitude sickness, so I was prepared to drink and pee a lot on the way, but my friends each drank 1.5L when they ran empty and they took 5L each. We hiked the last day the cables were up 10/9/18.

I saw people going down the cables two different ways. Do whatever works best for you. My friend had to go backwards down the cables, because her knees are bad and she had brace on one. She felt that it was easier to lean into the mountain and look down at her legs for the next purchase of rock while she was grabbing onto one side of the rope. However, I felt that I had more control facing outwards just like walking downstairs. Both of my hands were on both cables and I clenched and unclenched my fists to lower myself down with my legs and let gravity help as I got to each wood block at the stanchions. My backpack was still quite heavy from water, and I felt better balanced that way.


I recommend:

5-6L of water unless you have a filtration system to get water at the last water area before the Dome

BRIGHT Headlamp - I got a cheap one with the highest reviews on Amazon for $26

Hiking poles - They saved me coming down. I didn't order early enough on Amazon, but my Amazon ones were $25. I had to buy Black Diamond for like $100. They aren't for everyone, but I almost slipped on the rock stairs coming down the last few miles over 10 times and they helped. My arms, back, and chest are sore, but at least I didn't break anything.

Hiking shoes with treads - Oboz. I bought them new and didn't even have to break them in; I saw someone going up the cables in skater shoes and feared for his life. He couldn't even stand after 5 stancions and I told him he should go back down.

Gloves - You need ones for the cables. Some people use those thick garden gloves form Home Depot, cheaper than rock climbing gloves. Please don't leave them at subdome "for people to use." The rangers ask us not to. If you want to give your gloves away, just ask people you pass going backwards if they want some. My friend did and a stranger gratefully accepted.

Snacks - Clif Gels/Gu/Honey Stingers. Salt tabs, electrolyte tabs, a bottle of gatorade if you don't have that to sip on during the trip. (You nee to have equal water and electrolyte intake. Do not just bring all gatorade. You will dehydrate faster.) Make sure to bring a protein and carb filled snack for every hour. You WILL NOT make it without this.

Pickle Juice - THE BRAND not just the stuff in the pickle jar - I recommend this for cramps. It saved me and my friends. Maybe 2-3 small bottles for each person. They are really cheap and they work wonders. Drink before the hike to prevent cramps, but honestly, they can take cramps away during an onset too within a few minutes.

Layers of clothing - check the weather, but my feather down vest was a great help, along with my sun shaded hat to protect the back of my neck

Hand Warmers - trust me, this rocked for the beginning and end of my hike

Harness + gigantic caribiner - I saw several people have this and it made me wish I had this for peace of mind. Safety net going up and down, but you need to figure out if your gloves are easy enough to use with them while you hook and unhook each time you meet a stanchion pole WHILE you hold/balance your body.

Phone, Go Pro, external battery - some people get signal (I didn't), but your camera is so worth this view. Sometimes phones will die rather quickly on this hike, so have a backup battery. Pictures to remember the feeling of triumph!

Did this hike on October 6 2018. It snowed before, during, and after. We lucked out and got clear skys at the summit. Summited around 11:00am passed tons of people that turned around because it was too sketchy as it was icy and cold. I didn't have spikes or crampons so was super bummed as I didn't think I had a prayer to make it. The trail was icy and slippery but it wasn't like you were going to fall to your death if you slipped and fell. It was easy to spot the icy areas and I just used the trekking poles and took my time.

Scary, long but totally amazing!!!!

Load More