Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail

HARD 285 reviews
#1 of 113 trails in

Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail is a 18.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lone Pine, California that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

DISTANCE
18.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
6978 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

ice climbing

nature trips

rock climbing

skiing

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

cross country skiing

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

This the big daddy, an 18 mile out-and-back trek that summits Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. The trail averages 550' of elevation gain per mile and features two designated campsites along the way, the generally uncrowded Outpost Camp (10,360'), which is situated in a nicely sheltered meadow beside some running streams, and the much more popular Trail Camp (12,039'), an exposed, rocky field at the base of the infamous "97 switchbacks." At 6 miles from the trailhead and the highest possible place to camp, Trail Camp is considered the best site to acclimate to the altitude for overnight hikers. It is also popular to hike Mt. Whitney out-and-back in one day, but given the rigor and the length of the trail, a very early start from about 2-4am is recommended, as well as some prior training. From May-Oct., the trail is permit-only (apply by Feb. 15), and it is common to be denied a permit the first year one applies. Dogs are actually allowed on this trail up to Trail Crest (13,777'), but they may not be your best friend after the 97 switchbacks! Hiking poles are strongly recommended, as are multiple layers with at least one being wind- and waterproof, and definitely be prepared to purify or filter water along the way. The hike is strenuous, long, and the effects of the altitude can become intense, but the rewards are a panoramic, jaw-dropping view that stretches as far as the eye can see, as well as the joy of having achieved a true hiking milestone. As far as trails go in the lower 48, this is the ultimate natural high. Note: Dogs on leash are only allowed until the top of the 97 switchbacks, 2.5 mi from the summit.

2 days ago

hiking
3 days ago

hiking
3 days ago

Just did this hike 8/15. The trail is very rough and rocky, especially toward the top, once you get past the 99 switchbacks area. There is quite a bit of water on the trail. I found that with trekking poles and my waterproof trail runners, I was okay as long as I was careful.

I consider myself to be in decent hiking shape at this point, but it still took me about 15.5 hours round trip (we left at 4:15am and got back at 7:40pm). I think this trail is longer than the ~18 miles alltrails claims. This was far and away the longest and most difficult hike I've ever done. I'd recommend trying Mt Langley via the New or Old Army pass since that's a shorter and easier hike to see if you can handle it.

There were quite a few people on the trail, which didn't surprise me at all. I don't think it took away much from my experience.

In any case, made it to the summit, which I wasn't sure I'd be able to do!

4 days ago

Plan ahead and enjoy the trail

hiking
5 days ago

5 days ago

Toughest one Day climb for me and wife helena
The weather perfect sept 15 2016 with my bride
Could not be better! Put this on your bucket list

hiking
10 days ago

Hiked 8/7-8/9. Hike was perfect. We were concerned about snow crossings but left all snow gear behind. No snow on trail at all. We did bring aqua socks. There is only one water crossing were you may "need" water shoes. We put them on as we went up but on way down we carefully made our way through with hiking shoes and stayed dry. Aqua socks for this one crossing may be worth bringing. The crossing is through a small meadow stream running along some granite. Soft bottom. Could go bare feet. This crossing is a bit before Outpost Camp. There are several places to filter water. Pack light on the water until switchbacks. At around switchback 23 is the last place to filter water before summit. Fill up here for the summit and back. Bring some warm clothing for above 13K feet. It was cold in morning and in shade but the sun felt like it was cooking us in the afternoon. Also bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes weren't terrible. If day hiking you may not notice them. We camped at Portal just across from trailhead the first night. It was a nice camp with a stream and large waterfall. It looked like we got the last camp site. It's a self service camp. Bring cash. $15 per night. Went into Lone Pine around 8 and by 11:30 got a walk in overnight permit to enter the Whitney zone a day earlier than we planned. We packed up our gear and left around 1pm hiking 4 miles to reach Outpost Camp late afternoon. Another fun camp with a waterfall. It was in a nice meadow with plenty of water. We took our time in the morning. Had breakfast then hiked a couple miles to Trail Camp. The camp is a bit more crowded and exposed to wind and sun. Great views of summit. We used the day to acclimate to the elevation and got an early start the next day. Started switchbacks around 4:15am. We used headlamps for about an hour. There was some ice in a few spots where water had frozen over night. Nothing to be worried about. Just look for it. Several areas had water running over them. Less than half way up switchbacks it was dry. We watched sunrise. Switchbacks went quickly. Of course day hikers may fell differently. Switchbacks were a little less than 2 miles. We were surprised how quickly we hit Trail Crest. Wow! What a view! From Trail Crest it was a bit under 2 miles to summit. Watch for trail to summit. It's easy to miss. If you miss it just head up. We reached summit around 8 am. It was chilly on the way up. From here we hiked back to Trail Camp to pack up gear and headed back to Portal. We were back to Portal around 3PM.

hiking
11 days ago

Hiked this on 8-8-17. Epic hike. Fabulous scenery. Pictures don't do it justice. Bring sandals - lots of water crossings where getting wet is a real possibility - in one a certainty. In some parts the trail literally became a small creek you had to climb up. Trekking poles a must. The trail at the very top (the last 500 feet of elevation gain or so) was totally impassable due to snow. You can still summit via a pretty long scramble. Took me just under 14 hours. Started at 4 am. Drank 4 1/2 liters of water.

hiking
11 days ago

backpacking
11 days ago

It is painfully overcrowded. But it's one of the best trails in the nation. Trail Camp smells like the portapotties at Bonnaroo and human waste everywhere. (Serious people. Leaving your shitbags for others to trip over? F you!!!! Haul your poop out you inconsiderate a-holes!!!) So, with that, I strongly recommend camping at Consultation Lake - much nicer and better camp spots. Also, I recommend bringing water shoes/sandles for the many water crossings. Wet shoes on push to summit is no bueno. Happy trails.

https://www.facebook.com/james.cocco/posts/10211256160853104

hiking
12 days ago

hiked it on thurs 8.3.17.... the numerous water crossings will slow you down if you are trying to summit in one day and have a pace in mind, keep your socks and shoes dry! . the mosquitoes are there but I think Californians overreact with how bad they are. they around but some deet does the trick... lots of water on the trail to refill and purify via those waters filter straws. no need to pack in a ton of water and weigh yourself down.... thunderstorms come around by 1 to 2pm so you have a short window to summit in day light... tough to do in one day unless you're an expert and really fit but certainly doable in a multi day hike. cheers

hiking
12 days ago

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
15 days ago

15 days ago

backpacking
16 days ago

Ok, so the Mt Whitney hike is amazing! The wildlife, the landscape and the feeling of accomplishment are breathtaking. The only issue? The kind of people that frequent the trail. If you receive a wag bag from the permit issuing station and have no intention of using it and just burying your "stuff", you DON'T belong on the trail. If you have a wag bag and you plan on just leaving it somewhere on the trail because it's too gross to carry around, you DON'T belong on the trail. If you don't want to carry your trash because it's too heavy or you're just too careless to make sure you don't sprinkle it all over the campground, then you DON'T belong on the trail! Please respect nature and your fellow hikers and don't take part in destroying what everyone else is there to enjoy. If you can't follow the rules, just stay home.

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

I did a solo overnight hike starting at Whitney Portal at 5:15 am on July 30th. I got to Trailcamp by 9:00 am, which was much earlier than anticipated. It's hard to gauge how in shape you are based on talking with different people! I then decided I didn't want to stay at the featureless camp for the whole day and headed to the summit. I left there at 10:00 am. I got to the top at 1:15 pm with picture-perfect weather. After about 30 minutes the nice puffy clouds on top of Mt. Whitney quickly changed to darker ones, so I decided to start heading back. By the time I was at Trailcrest, I could hear thundering. By the time I made to Trail camp (4:00 pm), I could see the whole ridge was getting hit by what looked like sheets of precipitation. From 12,000ft, I wasn't sure if it was hitting the ground though. Nonetheless, the lighting was pretty scary and definitely got me back to Trailcamp faster. The lesson there is: try to summit before noon this time of the year. By the way, a great spot to get clean water is at the switchbacks between Trailcamp and Traicrest. It's a good filling time as you are coming back of the mountain and the water is not stagnant like the one by Trailcamp. I then debated getting back to Portal, but ultimately decided to spend the night at Trailcamp. I left there at 5:00am, and leisurely came down, taking pictures. I was back to Portal before 8:30 am. On the microspike need, I brought and used them at two locations - one small patch before Trailcamp, and the other sketchier patch right below Trailcrest. Can you do without them? Absolutely. Also, on water shoes, I regret bringing them The only spot you need to take your boots off is right below Outpost camp. The flooded trail is not gravely and one could easily walk barefooted - save some weight.

hiking
18 days ago