Explore the most popular camping trails in John Muir Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great hike up. Was disappointed that there was not a good view into the next basin. The last steep part was the most lovingly cared for trail I have seen in years.

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.

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.

Beautiful Hike! The climb back up from Pika lake is a bit rough on tired legs. Went 11/14 and had a lot of fun playing on the frozen lakes

backpacking
4 days ago

Four of us did this as a backpacking overnight this weekend, and for 3 of us it was our first time backpacking. We made it to the 2nd lake in 4 1/2 hours with packs and lots of breaks (we are in average shape.. only some of us hike regularly).
This trail was challenging and rewarding for a first time hiking with 20+ lb bags (we only hiked to the 2nd lake to camp and explored a few more lakes the next day). The trail is a very steady incline with some big stone steps here and there, but with trekking poles it was doable, even at altitude (I would describe it as "challenging" but far from "brutal"). What was somewhat brutal was camping in below 15 degrees ( my thermometer read closer to 10 than 15 at one point in the evening). Sleeping in the cold was not fun, but the sun really warmed us up in the morning.
On Saturday morning there was smoke from a forest fire which made the visibility poor, which was a bit discouraging, but we decided to go for it anyway. To the guy who said to us "Have fun breathing in smoke all night"... just so you know the wind came through and blew out all of the smoke that afternoon. We had perfectly clear weather that night and the next day.

hiking
6 days ago

Warning: if you’re out of shape. Beginner hiker. Please be prepared. Allow yourself and your group plenty of time to reach the lakes before it starts getting dark. This trail is hard for beginners like myself. I started off the trail at 630am. It took my group almost 5 and a half hours to get to the first lake. The second lake is just a short distance away. Maybe 10-15mins after the first lake. The views are amazing! Well worth the pain coming up and going down. It took 3 and a half hours to get back to the parking lot from the second lake.

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.

Amazing... Simply AMAZING

Incredible hike and views!! Highly recommend. Be sure to take note of your turns and trailheads, as there are a lot of offshoot trails and it could be easy to take the wrong path on the way back!

hiking
18 days ago

Did all seven Lakes in one day, kind along but definitely worth it. The 1st mile or so it’s kind of cool but after you make that first thousand foot climb and hit the first lake the scenery is amazing. My favorite is fourth lake as it just kind of comes up on you thru a shirt spur off the main trail. Temple Crag is obviously the sight to see. Will def come back and head the Glacier Lake trail.

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!

backpacking
20 days ago

Unreal view of temple crag at second lake. Best backpacking trip to date

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/

Starts in the desert and progressively climbs into the mountains. There's some stunning views early on but the real rewards come when you start hitting the lakes. Lake 2 in particular is absolutely incredible. Temple Crag is one of the most breathtaking sights I've ever seen.

Found GoPro on this trail today, Saturday October, 27. Contact me if it yours.
Trail is great, i would rate it Moderate comparing to Kearsarge pass for example. You probably have another week to catch the fall colors. Winter is coming...

Outstanding hike and views! We missed the fall color up here but still well worth the trip!

We did this day hike 2 weeks ago and I have to say it’s one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. We did the loop passing by Lakes 1-4 and Black lake. Didn’t get to Lakes 5-7 and Palisades glacier since that’s another day hike. Started the hike at 9am, arrived at Lake 1 at 1pm, had a 30 minute lunch break at Lake 2 and moved on to Lakes 3, 4 and Black Lake. Had a bit of altitude sickness (lightheaded and headaches) as we descended from Lake 4. It was dark by the time we arrived at the trailhead by 7pm, so glad that I downloaded the maps since it helped a lot tracking our progress as we headed back to the trailhead in the dark. You do have to take your time with this hike since there’s spectacular scenery everywhere, especially Lakes 1 and 2, Temple Crag, Big Pine Creek, aspen groves along the way and lots of deer sightings along the way. Doing the loop on our way back also gave as another glimpse of Lakes 1 and 2 from the trail on the canyons above. I will definitely do this trail again in a heartbeat to see the rest of the lakes and the glacier!

Oh yeah. Trail starts you at 10000 feet and hikes you incredible views of the eastern escarpment of the Sierras. Not bad for a 7.4 mi day 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.

One of our favorites

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!

Was up there last Saturday and had some light dusting of snow. The fall colors were out and what an awesome trail and time..

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

Beautiful fall colors

hiking
28 days ago

Day Hike: Beautiful Scenery all around and unexpected on the stamina you really need to make it through the hike. It was 4 of us, we are active and work out except for one who recently started getting active .However, we had the trail challenging us from the beginning until we enter the canyon where the challenge became tougher. We started the hike at 8 am. The elevation rise as we hike and climb higher ofcourse and tougher it got, but we were still able to manage and continue through . We took about 5 breaks of 5minutes in total . I believe it took us 2 hrs and half to make it to the first lake . Then, second lake about 10 minutes or so. My heart rate as an active individual was between 150 to 165 almost the entire hike . Burned 1500 calories plus. The descend was the best because everything from there was a piece a cake . We left the second lake around 1:00 pm and came across a lot of backpackers, day hikers, fishers, and backpackers who were just arriving as we were leaving . You will come across a few people later on the day. I do not recommend people who have health problems to do this trail . I will say if you are not active prepare to me challenge mentally and physically . And for those who want to encourage friends who do not do any hikes or anything whatsoever. Prepare to take plenty of lakes . Overall beautiful .

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.

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