Accurate reviews here. A note if you're not overnighting. The dirt road in is 16 miles. While well maintained, it is of the rough, sharp rock variety. I was in a Versa and it took me 1.5 hours @ 10 MPH. Larger trucks should fare better. punctured tires suck hard in the middle of nowhere!
The hike is calculated at 11.1, but I believe it's closer to 14. 8.5 hour hike for me...and I'm in decent shape. 5.5 up, .5 chill at summit, 2.5 down. Final ascent is a killer at such high altitude. But I will say it's wholly worth the effort. Spectacular 360 views! Bring LOTS of water. 6 lt per person recommended. And bring hiking poles for sure if you have 'em. Final ascent is all talus !
Lots of luck....and if you're well-supplied don't turn back unless altitude sickness sets in.
Surprise stop along the way from Big Pine, Ca. to Schulman Grove Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, this short loop hike only 2 miles short of Schulman Grove offered some really great views of the Inyos, Whites and Sierras in the high desert environment. Nice way to break up the 23 mile long road to Schulman from Big Pine, the end of the trail has some nice benches for some time to reflect. Also the trailhead has some aluminum signage pointing out distant peaks. Not to miss as you get a great view for little effort.
We camped overnight at the gate and pushed our bikes up the first two miles to the research station. Stronger riders could have ridden the whole way. From the research station we hiked to the peak. The land is barren but beautiful. The altitude makes the hike harder than it looks.
This is a good training hike for Mt. Whitney. It is also just a great hike period.
This is definitely a great trek for acclimatizing for Whitney. Although the trailhead starts at 12,000 feet, and the trail is extremely well paved, the series of switchbacks is tough. There is a small stone structure at the summit of the third highest Fourteener (14, 246 ft) in California.
Wow...no reviews yet? This is the third highest peak in Continental U.S, and probably one of the easiest to summit. it is only about 250 feet lower than Mount Whitney, which is ranked #1. With Whitney so close...it is easy to understand how this place can be overlooked.
The drive up to the trail-head is somewhat unremarkable. It is a long, but well maintained dirt road, that should be passable by most vehicles. Trees along the trail are sparse, and don't seem that interesting, until you realize that these bristle cone pine trees are the oldest living single organisms, some of which are roughly 5000 years old! You will quickly abandon the trees, as you continue to ascend above the tree-line.
At the trail-head, there is parking, and a bathroom structure. NOTE: There is NO running water at the trail-head. There is also a couple of fire rings, and open camping is available. This is a good place to camp at 12,000 feet, especially if you are considering a trip to Whitney, or a higher mountain.
The trail itself is actually a Jeep trail. it is 7 miles to the peak. There is a high altitude research station at about 2.5 miles into the hike The people manning the station were very gracious with their time, and were happy to give us an introduction into the work they were doing. They even offered to top off our water, but I wouldn't count on that assistance always being available. The elevation gain is quite modest, and there are a couple of saddle areas that drop elevation a bit before continuing to climb. The trail has some incredible views, and has a unique...somewhat alien quality. Even above the treeline (and in mid-July), wild flowers abound...and hundreds of marmots could be seen playing in the fields and the piles of boulders that almost appeared to be ancient monuments of long forgotten cultures.
Although the trail is on the "dry side" of the mountain...be prepared for rain or snow. It rained on us overnight, and the rain barely cleared in time for us to hike.
At the time of my hike, the summit was veiled in clouds. The goal of my hike was to acclimate for my climb up Whitney the following day. My hiking partner was also starting to suffer from altitude sickness. As such, i did not attempt to summit the mountain, and turned around about 5 miles into the hike. On the way back, as i went down the saddle and started back to the research station, I started feeling the effects of altitude sickness. Interestingly enough...Neither my climbing partner or I experienced the symptoms when we submitted Whitney a few days later.
I would be interested in returning for another turn on this mountain, either in preparation for another high altitude adventure, or with the goal of summiting this mountain. It also seems to be open to mountain biking a couple of times a year, which might be a very different but interesting challenge.