Explore the most popular rock climbing 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.

Whitney in May is totally where it's at. I climbed it on a Saturday with a group of 3 in one day and maybe 10-15 other folks made it to the top. The lack of crowds was fantastic and it was a load of fun. Be prepared for snow and ice and it's good to have crampons and an ice axe for going up (and glissading down) the chute. We left at 4am, summited at 11:30 and got back at 5pm and it was great but did make very good time. If you're somewhat less experienced, of recommend leaving an hour earlier but it's really not too bad of a hike. During be summer months, I think it's akin to San Gorgonio just shifted up a few thousand feet (which does make a big difference) and during the winter, it's a perfect place to work on beginner mountaineering skills. Overall, a fantastic mountain and the tallest in the lower 48!!!

Just finished this hike last Saturday. We camped at the Outpost camp Friday night and headed for the summit at 5am Saturday. We reached the summit around noon, with clouds rolling in, just in time to start heading down before the weather got bad.

Conditions were generally good, with snow cover starting around 11k feet.

Did this monster hike in one day (July, 2013’) instead of backpacking it in.
This is definitely for experienced hikers...if you are prepared and if you are an avid hiker this trail is for you!

Hiked this trail with a group of 13 people in 5th grade in 2015. Took 8 days and was the most amazing experience of my life. I do not like the views from the day trip as it is way more difficult and not as beautiful. It is a brutal way to take in the elevation. I strongly suggest doing the full long trail. I will be going back this summer. It is a mind blowing experience and if a 5th grader can do it, you can too.

Mt Whitney in spring. Enough said.

I hiked this trail 5 times as part of John Muir Trail and few other times just for Mount Whitney. I like it in winter or early spring. I always hike it in one day. I like the views from the Trail Crest, the Marmors and the summit. I don’t like the switchbacks when there are crowds.

Many times, in winter only, solo most times, once with friends

First attempt may 5th 2017. Left at 3am for a one day climb but 3 miles in the trail disappeared. Continued climbing up another 3 miles weather started getting bad, extreme high winds and 2 ft of snow dropped that day. Decided to go back to base camp disappointed we couldn't continue. 1 guy was found dead that previous week and a couple went missing that same weekend. It can be dangerous during snow season but easy during summer. You always have to make the right calls to stay alive. I plan on going back and finish the hike.

9-29-18

Left the portal at 4am with a flashlight,as the batteries were dying the sun was rising! Don’t know if this is some kind of close to record time but I was back down at the Portal by a quarter to 2.
I was in my forties and super fit(USCF rider)
In any case it was a spectacular hike...recommend it to anyone who loves majestic views.Just get yourself in some kind of shape....it will be much more enjoyable.

we did this in ice and snow in 2k17. it was an awesome challenge and we completed it in one day from the Whitney trailhead. The switchbacks were closed due to snow so we had to climb the chute, that was the best part other than the summit. I'm doing it twice this year! This place is amazing, truly.

Like Mr Dave I did this hike when I was 19 or 20! We went up in 1 day stayed in lone pine as well what a wonderful place! You defiantly should bring a water purifier and I would suggest stopping at the first camp to acclimate. I may have to try the lottery to see where I stand at 44 years old- cheers to all!

hiking
4 months ago

I’m giving it three stars because the views of Split Mountain are gorgeous. But otherwise it’s a fairly oppressive hike to get to and to complete. For starters, the trailhead almost necessitates 4wd/awd + high clearance + off-roading tires (probably the most important being good tires, because even if you can clear the rocks and get through the loose sand, you’re still going to be driving over a lot of sharp rock). If you can drive to the trailhead, then you’ll need to add about 8 miles on around-trip. In general, the trail is not well maintained, very overgrown in sections and extremely loose in others. Because of this, people have tried to create their own paths, making it almost impossible to follow the mail trail the whole way. There are equally difficult, but more enjoyable hikes, in the eastern Sierras, so I don’t think this is a particularly “good” hike. Basically, I recommend doing other hikes unless you’re after CA’s 14ers.

Hiked this trail 4 days ago - absolutely beautiful! Blue lake is frozen over, the area made a gorgeous campsite. There is a lot of snow up at that elevation, and several patches of ice on the trail leading up.

I am an old man now and have not done this in a long time, longer than I care to admit. Fees, permits, reservations were not required, you need to check into that these days.
Went up and down it numerous times in one day in my 20's I still could

I recommend doing Whitney it’s worth all the hard work. I hiked Whitney from the backside while hiking the JMT

What a beast! Yet this hike is also the most rewarding and my all time favorite hike to date. It is best to hike this one over multiple days of possible, preferably over three days so the 11 mike decent after a 5 mike ascent doesn’t kill you. Overall I cannot wait to get back to this mountain sometime next year.

Coming down is harder than going up.
:)

Wednesday 10/18
I drove up from LA and arrived in Whitney Portal at about 7:00 PM. Goal was to stay in the Portal for two nights before summit attempt on Friday.

Thursday 10/19
Woke up early and drove back into Lone Pine to pick up my permits and do one last weather check. As a note, I had cell service (AT&T) about 3 minutes outside of Whitney Portal, just not directly in Whitney Portal or on the mountain. Permit pick up was easy, the staff walked me through the papers, had me sign in a few spots acknowledging that I wouldn't litter, have a fire, etc. then they gave me my permit and wag bag.

Drove back up to the Portal, got my backpack ready for the next day, and decided to take a short hike up to the trail head to help my body acclimate. Ended up hiking through the first few switchbacks of the trail, basically to the first water crossing then turned back and headed back to camp.

Weather was supposed to be very windy on Thursday night and Friday morning, final NOAA report had 70-80mph gusts with sustained winds in the 30+ mph. I decided to pack up my hammock and sleep in my car that night to avoid falling debris and to hopefully get a better night sleep. Day ended with a Mountain House dinner of Chicken and Dumplings and was in bed by 6:00 PM.

Friday 10/20 (Summit)
Woke up at about 2:00 AM to get all my clothes on, breakfast made, and drive up to the parking lot with the goal of starting at 3:00 AM. Ended up starting about 3:15 AM. Weighed my pack at the trail head scale it was 27lbs including 4L of water.

Weather report was just about spot on with the sustained winds. Those kept up the entire morning and didn't fade out until around lunch time when more normal summit winds continued.

Water sources along the trail were very active. If someone was trying to go light on water, they'd have an easy time filtering water essentially all the way up until Trail Camp. I don't necessarily trust the Trail Camp pond water, but if you walk off trail a hair above the pond, water seemed to still be flowing alright.

The hike up to the switch backs was pretty easy, nothing crazy, just plodding along. Even on the switchbacks it wasn't difficult once I found a sustainable pace. Towards the top the winds were getting strong enough that some of the gusts would have blown me off the side of the switch backs had I not had a trekking pole planted downwind. The trail was in great condition though and the one icy spot near the cables was trivial to bypass. It was more cool to see than anything.

I started the switchbacks with about 2.5 liters of water. 1.5 in a camelback and 1 in a Nalgene. From the start of the switchbacks I had to nurse the camelback because the hose kept freezing and continued to do so more frequently as I approached the summit. Eventually about a mile from the summit, I forgot about it for 5 minutes and it was frozen solid. If a camelback is your only source of water to the summit, watch this carefully, otherwise you may lose your water source.

From Trail Crest on I slowly made my way to the summit, altitude becoming a large factor taxing my effort. The main gusty winds had simmered down a little bit at this point but coming around the bend at Trail Crest and through each of the windows, I had to watch my step because the winds were so strong.

Summited in 9.5 hours (approx 12:45 PM), very slow, probably could have done it in 7-8 hours had I not stopped so many times along the way. Summit weather was clear, cold, and beautiful. Stayed on the top for about 30-45 minutes to enjoy the view and eat.

I desummited much quicker but still got back after dark with a total time of 16.5 hours. I feel comfortable that I could have done it in closer to 13-14 but for sticking with other groups on the way up and down.

Overall
Attempt: First
Time: 16.5 Hours
Trail Conditions: Clear and Clean
Water Consumption: 4L
Weather: Clear, Cold, and Windy

Key Learnings
- The two nights in Whitney Portal helped LOADS with acclimation. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.

- I was able to finish the hike with 4L of water but still brought my water filter with me.

- I took ibuprofen all day to manage not only the small aches and pains but also to help with altitude sickness. Not sure how much of a role it played with altitude sickness prevention but I didn't have any issues all the way up. However, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it made the descent much more comfortable with regards to the aches and pains.

- Heavier/fattier foods should be eaten earlier in the morning when at lower altitudes. Your body has a difficult time processing those foods at altitude. Switch to simple sugars like fruits and snickers as you approach the summit. It's amazing what a little bit of food in your stomach will do for how you feel.

Hope this helps anyone looking to head up there!

First and foremost for 'once in a blue moon' hikers. This is a well-established trail and very easy to follow. There are also lots of prettier hikes with far superior picturesque peaks.

Started on this beast at 7am. Why 7am? B/c there wasn't gonna be any lolligagging around. Also, I do wonder if the reason ppl have so much trouble with this hike is b/c they start out at like 2 or 3am. No! Get a good night's sleep! If you are going to be hiking in the dark, wouldn't it be better to have to do it after plenty of rest???

Onward-> I took 6.5 hours to summit. During this time, I also managed to play messenger when 4 ppl decided to turn around after 4 miles, yet 2 of there companions were already up at camp so they axed me to play messenger and get the 2 dudes the mssg. Axed around and found them. Mission Accomplished! Next I ran into a couple that had camped at the camp at 12k. They went to summit Whitney and had hiked made it past the switchbacks and a half mile down around the bend before dying of hunger. Luckily, this DAY hiker, had plenty of protein bars on him to spare one plus a half container of fig newtons. I don't know how you get that hungry after maybe 3 miles of hiking but they did. Nice ppl tho. SOOooo yes, plan accordingly. KNow your limits, and if this is your first hike or you are from sea level or you do not condition for mountain hikes, then maybe wait a bit on this one or do it in 3 days.

Now I was completely impressed with my summit, passed 21 ppl on the way up, and I was amped to get back down in 4 or 4.5 hours. But then! tragedy struck. I twisted my knee or something with 7 miles to go. Thank you ibuprofen and natural endorphins. So yes, my return time ended up being the same as my summit time. On the way down I was fortunate to catch up to 2 other ppl hiking down in the dark (w/headlamps). Hiking in the dark in bear country is not my favorite thing to do. And I never do, but when I do I would recommend yelling 'hey bear' and clacking your trekking poles to make some noise every once in a while or like every minute if your me and really, really don't want to get jumped by a grizzly. Hit the parking lot 13 hours after starting at 8pm. Mark another peak off the list.

Other miscellaneous items I would like to look back on: The dark red , not transparent ziploc bag with my snow trax seemed extra heavy...yeah, pulled the trax out on the way down and found a huge bag of coins inside, too. Double check your pack!. Oh yeah, ask the ranger if there is snow near the summit. I read on one of the mssg boards there was snow so I brought my trax. No snow and dead weight in my bag. Going at a fast walking pace I only needed 4 liters of water not the 5.5 I brought. I drank it all which I am sure helped but again lower the weight you are carrying by zeroing in on what you need. Again on the water issue I based it off of others' experience and should have tailored it more towards my personal experiences. Also, the mileage on this hike is listed differently around the web. Based on the signage on the trail it is 21.2 miles. Alltrails recorded 19.1. So it was a bit hard to dial in exactly what I needed for this hike, and I ended up overpacking.

It's better to fall forward from exhaustion, then falling back cause, at least, your moving forward.

this is one of my favorite day hikes it's just absolutely gorgeous there and such a rewarding hike

It is a beautiful trail that can be easily done on one day, however, to enjoy the landscape I would recommend to stay at least one night and have a nice and relaxed hike to the summit.

The Trail is in very good conditions and about 95% artificial and does not require any experience, however, the altitude can be a problem for not experienced hikers.

Absolutely Amazing!

The trail starts off at a slight incline and then you'll pass through a section of aspen trees mixed with boulders which makes the landscape look absolutely beautiful! I hiked this trail in the beginning of October and the golden aspens mixed with the gray boulders was breathtaking. You'll pass by 2 waterfalls and then the switchbacks to get over the ridge. Let me tell you, after all those switchbacks, the views of blue lake blew my mind! Absolutely worth it. My intention was to do this as a day hike, but really, I should have spent a few nights here. Well, there's always a next time.

It was a great experience for my first hike. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the top but our goal is to make it to the top by next year. We managed to hike up to the lone pine lake.

EPIC ADVENTURE!!! I did this as a Day hike on Saturday 10/14/17. I arrived Thursday morning and camped out at Whitney Portal Campground, less than a mile from the trailhead, sitting at 8,000ft elevation. I did a lot of research and followed the advice of many people by arriving 2 days before the hike, to allow my body to become acclimated to the altitude. I had one friend arrive Thursday night after 11pm and 2 other friends arrived Friday after 1pm. Out of the 4 of us, I felt no effects of AMS, my buddy that came Thursday night did have slight symptoms of altitude sickness, but he still managed to finish the hike. Of the other 2, one was very slightly affected and the other had absolutely zero problems (just goes to show that some people are immune to altitude)
We went to sleep at 7:30pm Friday night and woke up at 12:30am Saturday morning and began hiking just before 2:30am. It was literally FREEZING, with temps in the 20’s and 30’s the first half of the hike. We all had our headlamps on and used them for about 4 hours until the sun came up. It was a welcome sight for me, because I wasn’t properly layered, so I was very cold..it turns out I was actually wearing too many layers under my jacket and I became sweaty and cold, despite wearing moisture wicking fabrics. My friend actually made the same mistake, and at one point in the darkness, he removed a couple shirts and they froze and became firm and crunchy! We kept taking small breaks on the way up because of the difficulty breathing as the air got thinner and thinner the higher we ascended. We finally made it to the summit after 9 excruciating hours. But it was such a great feeling and sense of accomplishment! We hung out at the summit, ate some lunch, took some photos and laid out clothes out on rocks to dry. After about an hour, we started back down. It took us 5 hours to get back to the trailhead, arriving around 5:20pm.
The weather was sunny and extremely clear the whole day, but it probably stayed in the high 50’s at the warmest. Trekking poles were definitely a help going down. I went through 3L of water in my Camelbak, 2 16.9oz bottles of water with added electrolytes and a 20oz Gatorade at lunch on the summit...could’ve used 1 more bottle of water though.
This was an incredibly difficult hike, and I’ve been training for months and months, reaching the summits of a dozen mountains in Southern California, so make sure you are used to hiking at altitude and going 20+ miles at one time. One of my friends is very athletic and it kicked his butt.
I’m pretty stoked that I have finally completed Whitney, after months of training, planning and worrying that everything would work out, and if you ask me if I’d do it again, I would...but NEVER in the cold again! I’ll do it in the summer

on day one I arrived, September 12th, at Whitney portal and slept inside my Grand Cherokee. o got about 10 hours of sound sleep which is about twice what I normally get. the noise level while sleeping a vehicle is not bad at all. there are great facilities at the portal. there had been a big storm the couple days before I arrived which caused some issues with the Whitney portal store water system. as a result their kitchen was closed and they weren't cooking any food. just a heads up. the next day I began backpacking up to trail camp at 10am. the first few miles are on a trail of dirt/gravel and few steps. it made for great hiking. after outpost camp it gets more Rocky and there was some wet trail to cross but nothing more than a couple inches of water. trail camp was amazing. there were snow patches over 10k ft but none on the trail until near the summit . I began the summit push at 3am on the 14th, first on the trail. temps in high 20s. I had to bust through several icy spots on the trail, so just have good footing. nothing that required additional equipment. I got to the summit at sunrise. layers required. temp was about 20°, even lower with the wind chill. the few miles leading to the summit was more bigger rocks and steps. headed down after. overall a great hike.

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