Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail

HARD 215 reviews
#1 of 104 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.

hiking
16 minutes ago

We hiked this in one day on June 25, 2017. We used micro-spikes and walking poles. Some people were using crampons (less than half) and many people had axes but were rarely using them. Bring a mosquito net.

The snow starts about 1 mile before Trail Camp. We were on snow from there until Trail Crest. The switchbacks are covered in snow so everyone is hiking up the chute. This is like being on a slippery stairmaster for 2.5 hours - very exhausting. Waling poles with the snow disks was very helpful. As always, the view from the summit was amazing. Most of the lakes were almost completely frozen over.

The water was amazing. Each river was extremely high. This made for beautiful views but the crossings were challenging. The water level was higher then most of the crossing rocks and logs. Some people were removing their boots and crossing barefoot (the water was super cold). Others had gators on. I got frustrated and just started marching through the water. I did the entire hike with wet feet. Definitely not ideal, would have preferred gators but did not want to spend 10 minutes taking my boots off and putting them back on every mile or two.

Sliding down the chute was awesome! You can either go down the chute which is long and fast, or many people were sliding down the snow. It is easier to control your speed on the snow so I strongly recommend it if you have never done this. The long chute can build up some major speeds. It took me 2 hours to hike up the chute and about 5 minutes to slide down.

The mosquitoes were outrageous. I have over 100 bites. Repellent is only barely making a difference. I strongly encourage everyone to bring a net to keep them off your face and neck.

hiking
16 hours ago

Really cool hike and a great challenge for 1st time hikers

backpacking
18 hours ago

In July 2015, Deb & I finally got to Mt. Whitney's summit. However, again, NOT via the Main Whitney Trail. We couldn't obtain a permit, so we opted to enter & exit via Cottonwood Pass/Horseshoe Meadows, making it a 6-day, 65-mile trip. Experienced all 4 seasons. Every step, day was great & challenging. May do Whitney again. Definitely would be via Main Trail & maybe as a day trip.

hiking
1 day ago

1 day ago

hiking
1 day ago

Absolutely stunning. Great hike! Just be aware that if you do it when there is still snow on the ground...you have to "guess" where the trail is and it's a bit more difficult to trudge through the snow when there is a lot of snow. In June 2017 there was still a lot of snow.
Really enjoyed the hike. We spent 2 days on the trail, spending the night at Trail Camp.

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

hiking
6 days ago

Summited on 6/9/17. We started the hike from Whitney Portal at 1am and route-finding below treeline was a bit tricky but we had a GPS so we were able to get back on track pretty quickly whenever we lost our way. The trail was intermittently snowy (which is what made route-finding difficult) until just past Mirror Lake when it became entirely snow covered and we put on crampons. We made it to Trail Camp at 6am and took a half an hour break. It took us another 2 hours to climb up the chute and make it to Trail Crest. Because of elevation and fatigue it took us yet another 2 hours to reach the summit, but we did it!! We didn't stay long because we knew we still had a long hike back down ahead of us. Sliding down the chute was one of the most fun aspects of doing this trail in the snow, but please make sure you bring an ice axe and know how to use it so you can self-arrest if necessary. It was nice to hike back down in the daylight but the sun made the snow an absolute nightmare to walk through! We finally made it back to the trailhead at 6pm, completely worked but so elated!

6 days ago

i did it June 2017. Still snow above 10,000 ft. Crampon and ice axe were required as the 99 switchback were covered entirely with snow. It was awesome, and I m glad there were still snow !

8 days ago

8 days ago

backpacking
11 days ago

11 days ago

16 days ago

backpacking
17 days ago

17 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

Single day summit. There was snow above lone pine lake. Water was running at all the lakes to refill water. Snow was very soft coming back down. We did the hike with micro spikes. Almost all other people had crampons and an ice axe.

hiking
18 days ago

I have a day hike permit for Sunday, June 25th, 2017. Since I'm a solo hiker and new to this trail, looking to join other hikers that day.