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Mount Whitney Trail is a 22.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Lone Pine, California that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, ice climbing, and backpacking and is best used from April until October.

Length 22.5 mi Elevation gain 6,656 ft Route type Out & Back

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Waterfall

Wildlife

Bugs

Rocky

Scramble

Snow

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (9)
Facilities
Contact
Tips
Getting There

This is a long and strenuous 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 significant prior training for the long day. From May-Oct., the trail is permit-only (apply to the lottery by Feb. 15) and requests far exceed available permits. Alternatively, try the daily lottery at the Lone Pine ranger station for last minute openings. 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 (spend time acclimating before heading to the trail and be sure to eat / drink consistently throughout the day), 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 one for the books! Note: In Spring and into early Summer, expect snow and ice on the trail which can make for more technical conditions often requiring microspikes and potentially crampons and ice axes (with knowledge of how to use them.)

Mt. Whitney attracts visitors from all over the world and is one of those most popular climbs in the entire country. With that in mind, Whitney Portal can seem rather, uh, "urban" at times, especially during the height of the climbing season in summer. I can go into details about wilderness permits, the lottery system, campground availability, and other accommodations in Whitney Portal, but that's best left to the U.S. government (believe it or not). You can find most information you will need for climbing Mt. Whitney here: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/whitney.htm

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

Directions to Whitney Portal: Take US 395 to Lone Pine and then turn west on Whitney Portal Road from the town. In 13 miles you will reach the trailhead. Permits are required year round for camping and there is a limit. For day hikes you can self register at the trailhead sign in station.

Directions from Whitney Portal: Whitney Portal is 13 miles west of the town of Lone Pine on the east side of the Sierras.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (1462)
Photos (2763)
Recordings (1023)
Completed (3264)
Jimmy M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 7, 2020
HikingGreat!

Stayed at trail camp. Left camp at 2am to catch the sunrise. Trail camp to summit is a good 4 hours via switch backs. Was in the car at Portal around 1pm. Bring hat and gloves for a early summit. Some rock hopping towards the summit but most elevation gain is switch backs no crazy scrambles or anything. Sunblock is a must. Bring a water filter system to stay hydrated.

James Flanagan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 6, 2020
Hiking
View James's Recording
Don Bedford
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 5, 2020
HikingRocky

Went up it on 7/31, left at 4:30am and back at 8:30 pm

Jim Macdonald
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 4, 2020
Hiking

Hi Friends! Anyone feeling extra generous? I would love to purchase one permit, day use or overnight for August 5th - 8th. Please please please 80one-472eight4eight5 Thank you!!

Jason Meyers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 3, 2020
Hiking

Summitted 8-2. Did a one day climb. Started at 2am. Back to trailhead by 4. Start early as it is very warm. Take breaks stay hydrated and make sure to keep eating. View at the top is amazing. Happy to check this one off the list! Good luck to all. Happy climbing.

Sarah Rubin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 3, 2020

hey all! looking to purchase one permit around August 11th-18th. shoot me a message if you are able to help out. 505-3211337. thanks!

Shirley S
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 3, 2020
HikingRocky

My husband and I summitted 7/29/20 for our first time. What a beautiful trail! The scenery, wildlife and sounds of water thankfully takes your mind off all the steps and fatigue. The switchbacks not nearly as hard as everyone says...we both had great fun music to listen to that made the time go by easily. Continued with music to the summit as it gets way harder after Trail Crest. In fact the hardest part of all was coming back, had to go slow to keep our footing and we were damn tired, seems never ending and we sadly did not make it back in time for burgers:( We have been hiking about once a week ~ 5-10 miles with good elev change, but due to a pelvic injury 2 months before our day I couldn’t hardly hike at all...So it was a miracle I made it to the top! (Never got to do any big hikes that we planned Gorgonio, Jacinto etc). Keys to our success while being in fair shape: 1. hydrate well with electrolytes, starting days before 2. acclimatize for 3-4 days if you can (we arrived Sat at Whitney Portal campground, summitted Wed) also went to Horseshoe Meadows for a gentle walk and picnic one day. We had Diamox but opted to try without to see if we could do it 3. Go SLOW and steady, esp in the beginning. Yah it took us oldies 17 hrs RT but we made it! 4. Breathe deeply 4-5 times on regular intervals, esp after starting the switchbacks and anytime you feel short of breath. 5. Ibuprofen helped control my pain and possible headaches as I never had one. 6. Rest breaks, regularly and eat a lot! Do not underestimate the need for food and water on the way down. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do big training hikes, but we’re proof that it isn’t mandatory and we’re 48 & 50yrs old! Grit and positive attitude are probably the most important factors of all:).

Nathan Tsang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking

I took a one-day trip climbing the Mt. Whitney. I camped at the Whitney Portal campsite for one night. In the morning, I de-camped and drove to the trailhead. I started the hike at 3 am. I was hiking in total darkness with only the light from my headlamp. With nothing to see I was moving fast when I reached the Outpost Camp at 10,381', I was happy to see the sunrise. The wind also picked up and brought a chill, I put on my raincoat to keep warn, I was so glad that I forced myself to eat breakfast before the hike. By the time I reached 13,000' I felt the shortness of the breath and my legs started to cramp. I slowed down and took frequent stops. My breath improved and cramps went away, I reached the summit at 10 am. At 14, 505' the view was spectacular. The descending was boring and seemed never-ending. I moved fast but reminding myself to watch out the loose rocks on the trail. My total moving time was 12 hours: 7 up and 5 down. It is a long and grueling hike. Not to try this unless you regularly hike over 20 miles and have done a few of the 14ers without and altitude sickness. I gave only three stars for this hike: As other reviewers have noted - I too saw garbages and wag bags left along the trail. That was disgusting. Also, it took time to park at the trailhead even at 3 am in the morning. I drove around and finally parked at the roadside.

Jose Alvarado
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 31, 2020
Backpacking

I made a two-day backpacking trip. We arrived at Lone Pine the night before the hike and stayed at a local motel. The motels in Lone Pine are pretty run down, FYI, if we had a pass to remain at Whitney Campground would have done that instead. Woke up the next morning around 6am, grabbed some continental breakfast from the motel. That would be our last real food for a couple days. Drove to the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center to inquire about Wag bags (you know, those you have to carry your poop in). Holy smokes, there is a line there at 8am for who the hell knows why. Anyway, we heard they offer Wag Bags at the Whitney Portal Trail Head, so we took our chances and drove to Whitney Portal. The drive to Whitney Portal climbs a good ~8K feet (from ~3.5K feet in Lone Pine) and is about 18 miles. When we got there around 9am, we had a tough time finding parking. FYI there is no cell signal at Whitney Portal, so if you are going with several cars, make sure to follow each other. Once we met up with our other party in the caravan, we made our way to the beginning of the trailhead. At the start of the trailhead, there are many Wag Bags. Thank god! Thought we would have had to drive back to town to purchase some at the outdoor store. At the beginning of the trailhead, there is a scale to weigh your backpack. Beware, this is the last chance to take stuff out of your bag and leave in the car if your bag is too heavy for you! Mine was approximately 40lbs, I decided I didn't want to leave anything. My friends pack weight hovered in the 28-35lbs. This is an incredibly strenuous hike uphill, so think twice about what you are bringing! We started up the trail, and it starts ascending immediately. On our itinerary, we had only one planned stop for lunch, which was Mirror Lake. There are several other opportunities for stopping along the way e.g., outpost camp, lone pine lake, etc. I would highly recommend you often stop, take pictures, and take it all in. My friends tend to want to rush through the hike and get to camp. Make sure everyone in your group is on the same page. You will be very disappointed if you are more like me and want to take in nature, stop, take pictures, and relax along the way! At the mirror lake, this is where we stopped for lunch. This is an excellent place to fill up with water, and you have two options: the lake itself or the stream that comes out of it (about 100 yards before you get to the lake). Either is fine, if you have a water filter. We stopped here for about 45 minutes. Up to this point, it's not too bad, yes you are going up the entire way, but nothing too crazy. FYI Mirror Lake is at about 10K feet, this is where I started to get symptoms of altitude sickness (mild headaches). I popped 600mg of Ibuprofen at this point. Once we go back onto the trail, it started to get pretty grueling, especially with a 40lb pack. At this point, you are ascending past the tree line. You are climbing over many giant boulders of granite, going over a few streams (be careful easy to slip). This is probably the most miserable (physically) part of the hike. However, if you stop to catch your breath, you will notice that if you turn around, you now have some breathtaking vistas in the tree line below, including a beautiful view of Lone Pine lake. I was eating an energy bar roughly every hour, GU's, and drinking a ton of water. After a few hours, you will have made it to Trail camp at roughly 12K elevation. Trail camp is super barren; there are no trees. FYI if you see thunderstorms, you are very exposed. Make sure to descend back down the trail below the tree line. One at trail camp (got there around 5:30pm), I noticed that my breathing had gotten harder due to the thinning of the air. Also, I was experiencing tightness of chest and more headaches. Popped another 600mg ibuprofen. Make sure to keep moving once you get to Trail Camp, to adjust to the altitude. Setting up camp helped a bit to keep the blood flowing. Pitching a tent here, especially if you are using stakes, is a giant pain and will be trial and error to find a ground where you can drive your stakes. I would recommend finding a campsite away from the trail itself. You have easy access to a hidden spot in case you need to do your business (remember that wag bag?). By around 8pm, my group was super tired, so we decided to call it a night. We were going to wake up at 5am the next day to get an early start-up to the summit. FYI, thunderstorms roll in by noontime, so it's good to get up to the summit before noon. I had a really rough time falling asleep, I was tossing and turning all night due to the altitude. It was also quite cold (the high 30s, low 40s), make sure you have a cold-weather sleeping bag and base layer! The next morning, we were up and ready to go by 7am, including making breakfast, backpackers coffee, and filling up with water from the lake (yes, there is a lake at trail camp). We started...

Gautam Dogra
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
Hiking

Summited on July 28, one day hike. Incredible feeling. Also, permits are coming in email. no pickups. This was my second time primarily because i wanted to do it with my wife and it turned into an awesome experience. We are slow but steady hikers. Started at 10:20 pm primarily because you do not feel the distance you cover in the dark. We summited at 9 am and stayed there for about 1 and half hour. Clear skies perfect for nap. Came down rather quickly. We were back at the trailhead at 6 pm. Going up - the 1.9 miles from Trail crest to summit is more like 5 miles. Never ending. Coming down - last segment from Lone pine lake to trailhead is looong and the perception of time when you have not slept and are tired is just different. Remember to eat and drink plenty on way back as well. It can be hard sometimes but push yourself. Enjoy the experience, met lots of beautiful souls on this journey.

john griffiths
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
Hiking

Hi All, looking for permits for 3 people sometime between 8/8 and 8/14. overnight or day use. Thanks!

Katie McDaniel Buffini
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
Hiking

Hi Friends! Looking for a last minute permit for two people for August 1 or 2. Let us know if you happen to be able to lend a hand! —Nick and Katie 408.857.9369

Owen E.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020

I will never forget this hike but do all the research before hand and acclimatise to the altitude. Wonderful wonderful wonderful if you are prepared.

Chris Whelp
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
Hiking

We started at 2am and after a few miles I was wondering why this was such a great hike. Then we hit the tree line and the horizon started to lighten. All of the peaks turned pink and most of the rest was great. The switchbacks hit me hard but after the crest it was slow and steady. Hike up was around 6.5 hours and I don’t think we are in great shape. Two surprises. First, it was pretty warm from the trailhead up with a few cool breezes after the crest. I was dripping sweat after mile 1 and had to delayer. We hiked white mountain two days prior and it was frigid by comparison. Second, there are a lot of bats near the trail head and they get pretty close. They didn’t run into us but it was a little unique. The summit only had ten people or so on it and most of the hike had few people/ groups. Good for social distancing.

Robert Mauser
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 28, 2020
Hiking

Hello adventurers. I missed out on the lottery but I’m still looking for an available permit for Aug 9 or 10. If you have an availability because of cancelation please let me know 509 420 6345. Thank you

Simon Storey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 28, 2020
Hiking

This AllTrails account belongs to my husband. I’m writing a review of my Mt. Whitney day hike for hopeful hikers who may be like me - an early 40s, fit, but not super athletic lady. Day-to-day, my workouts are mostly long hilly walks and Pilates. I had bad knees until last summer, when serious hiking slowly and painfully strengthened them to the point where formerly dreaded trail sections no longer concern me. This hike is not fun in the typical sense. It. Is. Hard. The entire time. It will make you happy, it will make you mad, it will inspire you and it will drain you down to zero. This hike is beautiful - there are many moments when you really can’t believe your eyes (once the sun is up and you can finally see what’s around you). This hike is extremely rewarding - I watched a lot of younger, faster hikers pass me in both directions, but I still made it in the end. The challenge is well worth it, and my short advice is to pack well balancing weather and weight, get decent sleep the night before, start early, and don’t skimp on the training! This was my second attempt at summiting Whitney. The first was last fall, when our overnight permit unluckily coincided with the first cold snap of the season. I was unprepared to camp on the mountain with overnight temps in the high-20s, and hiked back out when we arrived at Outpost Camp to a frozen waterfall. My braver, warmer-sleeping, athletic husband summited the next day, as I cheered him on over our Garmin InReach from a shorter (and much warmer) hike in the Alabama Hills. Thanks to that attempt, my training program began late last spring. Since we live in SoCal, we did about two hundred miles of increasingly strenuous mountain hikes most weekends over last summer, including some overnights. Our max day-hike was 15 miles; our max training elevation was the summit of Mt. Gorgonio, at 11,500 feet. I got very used to doing 10+ mile hikes in the 8-10K elevation range. We stopped hiking in mid-November when it began to snow. This year, we only won a day permit in the Whitney lottery. Day hiking the trail seemed pretty impossible, but we decided to try anyway. With trails closed much of spring due to COVID, we trained seriously for less than a month. We crammed in a few short & steep hikes on nearby trails, followed by five 12-18 mile mountain day hikes (including a short trip to the Sierras where we hiked up as high as 12,000 feet and a day-hike of Mt. San Gorgonio), and an overnight on the Mt. Cucamonga summit. I recognized early on that, even with months off in between, last summer’s training had left me much stronger than starting from zero last year. For final preparation and to acclimatize, we camped at Whitney portal for four nights before our entry day. We did a 17-mile, moderate elevation gain hike near Cottonwood Lakes (entirely above 10,000 feet), and a steep but short 8-mile hike part-way up the Meysan Lakes trail. We would have liked to add a third 5-to-8 mile hike up to Lone Pine Lake or around the Cottonwood area, but it didn’t work out. We rested the day before Whitney, instead checking out Bishop and enjoying a fantastic lunch from the famous Schaats bakery in a lovely park across the street. I am not a fast hiker, more the slow-and-steady type. Depending on how steep and challenging an uphill section is, I usually go between 1 and 2 mph, (1 mph is for only the meanest sections). Depending on how steep and challenging a downhill section is, I can go between 1.3 and 2.75 mph. For Whitney, we woke up at 1 am and were on trail by 1:50 am. We made our exit back through the portal at 5:20 pm. We spent about :45 minutes at the summit, and took some decent snack breaks in both directions. The ascent took a bit over 8 hours, and the descent a bit over 6 hours. The slowest miles in both directions were the 5 or so miles from the base of the switchbacks to the summit, but other sections proved to be slower than I expected due to the trail itself. We got lucky and the weather was perfect. In one word, I would describe this trail as relentless. There are very few flat or easy sections. It’s a challenge going up, and given the length, possibly an even bigger challenge going down. The trail itself presents all manner of uneven ground, exposed tree roots, rocky sections (smooth, jagged, scree, boulders...), tall stone steps, and even sections with water flowing down the middle of the trail. All the usual water crossings were easy to pass over without getting wet, but a pop-up spring halfway up the famous 99 switchbacks still had ice on it when we traversed it around 7 am. It was so slippery I fell (thankfully no injuries), so I kept my trekking poles out from that point on. Since the first five hours/seven miles of our hike were in the dark, it was a lot of fun seeing our surroundings for the first time on the way down. There are some especially beautiful sections with meadows, waterfalls, and lakes that offer a welcome contrast to...

Elizabeth L
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
Hiking

Summitted on July 27. Left 5am, back 9pm-- was a long but spectacular day. There is good variety of scenery, and we saw lots of wildlife along the trail, including a huge black bear at the trailhead when we got back. Perfect weather- fluffy clouds made for nice photos. The altitude is no joke, it felt difficult to stop and rest appropriately and still keep a good pace. We carried 7L water each and 2 meals plus snacks-- it was hard to want to eat once we got past the switchbacks above Trail Camp but force yourself! As others have noted, the last 1.9 miles feels like forever... but the trail is interesting and the achievement is well worth it. That was also the only stretch where we encountered many people, perhaps 20-30, so the trail wasn't crowded. Overall I think this would be more pleasant acclimatization and timing-wise to do as a 2-day/overnight, but we had a great time regardless and highly recommend the experience.

Oleg Oksyuk
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
Hiking

Hi all. How to get a last-minute day-only permit? There are just 2 of us and we could be flexible on days.

Jaime Hoover
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
Hiking

Hiked Whitney yesterday! Started at 4:45 am and was down but 4:30pm. I was super exciting to hike this, I got a last minute permit. It was brutal. Those switchbacks are no joke. Plus side everyone was so nice. I was a solo hiker and everyone was always checking in on me and I really appreciated it. Trek down was never ending. Super proud of myself that I did this.

Wael Mansour
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
HikingGreat!
Thep Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
Hiking

Did Whitney solo yesterday (July 25th) on a last minute permit. Left at 3 and back by 7. Things started to slow down at the switchback ..... then really slowed down for the last 1.9 miles. Weather was great and view from the top spectacular. Looking for the elevator button to get back down. Met some great people, great experience. Ice cream at the bottom never tasted so good :)

Saul Sanchez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 23, 2020
HikingRocky

Did a 14 hour round trip starting at 2AM and ending at 4PM Do not recommend doing, but I was able to hike up without acclimatization as I was able to get only a last minute day use permit. Expect to feel every rock on what feels like the never ending trek down.

Casey Kuchnsky
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 23, 2020
HikingNo shadeRockyScramble

Been staring at the Sierras from the Alabama Hills for years and after reading about the accessibility of this summit, started looking for a permit and got lucky and snagged a single overnight pass. Overpacked a bit making the first day up to Trail Camp a bit rough considering it was my first time above even 11000ft, but the view of Whitney from camp was beautiful (clear sunset, mild weather, wolves howling). Just be sure to keep your food locked up as the marmots -though friendly - will quickly snag anything they can. After taking the night to adjust to the altitude, the summit was quite enjoyable (left at 6am, summit/hung out at the top from 9-10am, made it back to to the portal at about 3pm after packing up at Trail Camp). Weather was perfect at the top and the whole trip was worth every minute, especially for my first 14er. Highly recommended and very accessible hike!

Mark Luebrun
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 20, 2020
HikingBridge outBugsFeeFloodedIcyMuddyNo shadeOff trailOver grownRockyScrambleSnowWashed out

- 1 & 1/2 hours of sleep before I left my home in SoCal @4:00am - Got to the Trail head by 8:00am (whitney portal) - really felt altitude at 13,000ft - Seen abandoned waste bags near Trail Crest/Jhon Muir (13,000ft) smh - Summited @3:00pm - Thunder Storm formed around 3:30pm - Got back to Trail head @10pm (whitney portal) - 12 hour grind (including: 2 breaks, pics, etc) - How long will I remember this hike? Forever! - Date: 7/18/20, #whatquarantine #quarantinemakeorbreak - Follow me on IG @fithiker11

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