Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail

HARD 359 reviews
#1 of 118 trails in

Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail is a 21.9 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 April until October.

DISTANCE
21.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
7057 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.

15 hours ago

Absolutely Amazing!

hiking
6 days ago

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.

backpacking
6 days ago

hiking
7 days ago

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

hiking
9 days ago

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.

9 days ago

Magical! It was more than I expected and I'm TOTALLY doing this again! We stayed at Horseshoe Meadow/ Cottonwood Lakes walk in camp on Sunday evening. Got up early and did 4.5 miles on that trail just to acclimate.
Monday we stayed at Trailhead campground, also a walk in with facilities and a general store right there. We hit the trail until 9:15 but we were only going as far as Trail camp (6.1 mi.). We made it there about 3:30 and we're greeted by a hiker who was waiting for her group to return from summiting. We chose sites that were as wind protected as possible. Only after setting up along the south side "wall" did I discover on a walkabout, that there were even MORE sites over the Little Rock wall, so explore plenty before choosing.
My hiking buddy and I tried to sleep as best we could with the wind gust sounding like people beating on the outside of my tent (I now know the difference between a $60 knock-off and a REAL 3 season tent).
Be warned: IT IS WINDY. One poor fellow nearly lost his tent when it was carried 100 yards or so before someone else grabbed it. Gusts had to be in the 40-50 mph. At night you could hear it coming before it got to you.
99 switchbacks is next and was not as bad as I've heard others complain. When you reach the top, be prepared......MORE WIND! The Ridge though was my absolute FAVORITE of the Entire Hike! The majestic view of two breathtakingly beautiful lakes that seem to be untouched by human are nestled at the base of another fantastic Peak!
When you get to the dg, your almost there. Moonscape. It reminded me of the album cover Houses of the Holy by Zepplin.
Funny coincidence......we ran into a girl who glommed on with us who had been hiking with her mom and stepfather and she went on ahead because he wasn't feeling so hot....... he popped a Pepto and ate......a summer sausage that I gave him when we ran into them on the way down.......That was Dale, who left a review just yesterday on this site....his review is also true......be CAREFUL. Hydrate! HYDRATE!! HYDRATE!!! And eat! Calories are important here.....and HYDRATE!
We made it from Trail camp to the summit at almost noon straight up....(4.5 hours)....back down to camp, 3:30. Packed up. Left camp at 6:18, was off the trail by 10:15.

Awesome all around! If you do it in 1 day, go EARLY, bring water filtration kit. And fill up EVERY TIME you pass water!

hiking
11 days ago

We did it! My wife, daughter, and myself completed Whitney in one day. Started at 4 am and finished at 8 pm. Have to admit we do several 10+ mile hikes but nothing prepared us for this. I started to get sick after about 12k feet, but popped a pepto bismol and ate. After that I was good. My wife outperformed me by a long shot. This is by far the longest, toughest, and most dangerous hike we have ever done! Do not underestimate the danger. People do die on this mountain. What an overall experience but we will not be back. Just came to check off this epic hike from our list.

hiking
11 days ago

hiking
12 days ago

hiking
13 days ago

Absolutely beautiful weather! Cold but dry which we we so fortunate to experience. Other than poles and light you don't need any other equipment as of this moment. There is ice especially at the cables on the switch backs but you can step on the rocks on the edges to avoid the ice. The altitude is a real issue that many were struggling with in the trail. Give yourself time to adjust and plan for more time than you think you will need. Pack light. A member of my group carried too much it sapped him. There is NO water at the Portal so buy ahead and carry enough and have a purification plan for Base Camp. You will need more water than you want to carry.
This is an accomplishment no matter what but pushing it as a one day trek pushes your limits. I would do it again as a one day hike.

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

This is an amazing trail. If you plan on hiking it overnight, start extremely early. Be prepared for winds and thunderstorms. Also, be aware of acclimation sickness. At such high altitude, it is possible to get fatigued, and sick. Be prepared and be aware. It could happen to anybody, fit or not. Ideally, if you have time, spend three or more days on this trail This will help you acclimate and plus you'll get more time to enjoy the great sights, enjoy!

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful day to summit, but I don’t think I’d opt to day hike this one again. Started at 2:00AM and finished almost exactly 12 hours later.

15 days ago

hiking
16 days ago

so windy, so cold, so long, so worth it!
Oct 4-6, stayed at trail camp. no crampons required, despite what I heard. More later, Imma get a burger

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
17 days ago