Explore the most popular cross country skiing trails in California with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Nice approach, varied scenery and wonderful views at the top. Well worth every inch. Wonderful varied fungi along the way. Great little shop...found fresh garlic bulbs, fun gifts and a great shroom fold out chart. Definitely on my “do again list”.

My wife and I made the climb on July 16th. For most of the hike, we couldn't have asked for better weather.

We began our journey at 2:15am after eating a solid breakfast. It was warm at Portal, about 70 degrees so I ditched my top base layer quickly. We made it to the camp in about 4 hours.

The dreaded 99 switchbacks were tough, but taking frequent breaks and taking deep, slow breaths helped us acclimate. I feel taking our time here is what helped us avoid altitude sickness later on.

We felt amazing when we reached trail crest... That was until we began the last 2 miles until summit. It was brutal. But, at last, around 11:20am we made it to the summit! It was amazing up there, not a cloud in the sky.

We stayed about 15 minutes and then headed back down. This is one of the few hikes I have ever taken where going down is almost as hard as going up. We slowly made our way down. All was good until the last 4 miles... Lightning, thunder, rain, and hail all came out to wish us well at the end of our journey. We made it back at 7pm, wet, tired, and elated.

Remember to eat every hour or so, drink water frequently, and pace yourself. Also, we wore trail runners, which we wouldn't recommend... You feel every rock and pebble by the second half of the hike.

Good luck!

Excellently maintained trail considering the traffic and geographic conditions. As long as you are reasonably fit, you should be able to make it to the summit that has very rewarding views of the vast Sierra landscape.

We completed the hike with an overnight stop at Trail Crest. We camped the night before at the Whitney Portal Campground, which is a very convenient spot as long as you make reservations well in advance ($24/night for our campsite). We started from Whitney Portal at 8 am, but would recommend starting earlier as the trail up to Outpost Camp can be pretty hot in the summer. The trail is a series of switchbacks even before you get to the infamous 97 switchbacks, but on the whole, the grade of the switchbacks is generally gentle. Outpost Camp is in a pretty meadow with easy access to water and a beautiful waterfall, but unfortunately, it is just 3 miles in. If you choose to overnight here, the tradeoff is a much longer hike (~19 miles) the next day and poorer acclimatization.

We hiked up to Trail Camp for our overnight stay, which is about 6-6.5 miles in, and at 12k ft elevation. There is easy access to water, but the pond is sort of scummy, so make sure you have good filtration plus iodine tablets. The benefits of sleeping at trail camp are obvious, but on the flip side, it is pretty crowded and a pretty boring spot.

We started hiking out to the summit at 4 am the next morning, but again, I would highly recommend leaving earlier (3 am?). It helps to get through the mind-numbing 97 switchbacks before sunrise, and an early start will help avoid a lot of traffic. Most of the trail is one person wide, so you will need to constantly stop to let others pass if you start late. Carry more water than you think you need because there is no water beyond Trail Camp. We carried 9 liters between two people and finished the entire supply on the 10 miles out and back from Trail Camp to the Summit. Also, make sure you have ibuprofen. I developed mild symptoms of AMS despite acclimatizing for 2 nights, and the ibuprofen helped immensely!

GREAT Hike although I got lost for a few minutes.

Amazing experience. Trail conditions were very good and the weather cooperated too.

Summited solo yesterday. Wanted to write this so that everyone can succeed in summiting this thing if they want to! Couple things I noticed. Nutrition is crucial to you having a good day. It doesn’t have to be extremely hard if you have a planned nutrition schedule. This is spoken from experience of doing Ultras and Ironman distances, you need to eat every 30 minutes and consistently sip on liquids, no matter what you feel like.

The majority of people I passed weren’t doing anything until they were tired, and then they’d stop and drink and eat. The rule is, if you’re hungry or thirsty, it’s already too late.

My schedule:
Banana before hitting the trail, and an entire bottle of water
-Every 30 minutes, two cliff shot blocks(the packs have a total of 6)
-Every 90 minutes, skip the shot blocks and have a GU w/caffeine.
-always having a water source available to sip consistently.
-some trail mix right before I hit the switchbacks, still maintaining the gu/blocks schedule.
-trail mix at the summit.
-trail mix after the switchbacks on return.
-on descent, maintain nutrition schedule.

Total for the day, I believe I had 6 packs of cliff shot blocks, and 6 GUs, and about a bag of trail mix, around 2k calories, and most importantly, all easily digestible. A pb&j or turkey sandwich is not! I might have missed a cliff or gu, counted the wrappers when I finished.

WATER
I took 2L up with me, and an empty bottle to hold another L because I didn’t want to carry the unnecessary weight. There are MANY places to fill up, so you will not run out of water with this method. That being said, I would make sure to fill up all 3L before you start the switchbacks because there will be no water after that point, and it’s 8 difficult miles from that point up and back. I chose iodine tablets which made the water process easy and the bag lighter; just remember to plop in two tablets into your L of water and put it back in your bag. It needs about 35 minutes to work. I believe I drank 7 liters on the day, but I should have probably had another.

TRAINING
I’m training for tri’s at the moment, but I believe HIIT cardio workouts(spinning, plyo, etc) will get you a long way. Also, doing some distance running/walking, but I hadn’t done over 16 miles with 3k elevation gain before Whitney, and I felt fine.

ALTITUDE
I think it’s important to get up in the area two nights early. I chose to camp at Horseshoe Meadow(highly recommend!!) the first night because it’s over 10k elevation and I live in Santa Monica, which is at 1:) It’s a great and quiet area with some great hikes to get warmed up like Cottonwood Pass which gets you up over 11k. The second night I camped at Whitney Portal which allowed me to roll out of my tent, pack it up, and get started on the hike. NOTE: bears are very real in his campground. They are not the people eating bears, but they are the bag stealing bears, which almost happened to me right before my hike. Be careful where you leave your food at ALL times. But I felt no AMS symptoms ascending, and had a minimal headache on the descent, but I think it was slight dehydration.

THE HIKE:
I started at 2:45am, and did the trail alone. Others are on the trail too, so you might go for periods of time by yourself, but for the most part you’ll see lights ahead or behind you. I wanted to get to the switchbacks by sunrise. I didn’t really stop much, other than to replace a GU/Block supply for a convenient pocket on the pack. I stopped at the stream just down from the second campsite just before the switchbacks to fill up the water. The switchbacks at dawn were amazing; I think it’s risky to do them in total darkness. I went at a pretty good clip and summited around 8:20 or so and took a 40 minute nap on the summit. Unless you’re trail running, the descent will take longer than 4 hours, and 4 hours is VERY fast. I wasn’t trying to break any speed records and wanted to enjoy the day, but I was also using this as a training workout for other events I’m doing, meaning I kept my HR at a firm 130-140 all of the way up. I think I got down around 1:15pm, so I had about 10 hours of moving time with the nap at the top. I also had plenty in the tank because I followed my nutrition plan very carefully, so if a situation had arrived on the mountain, I would have had the energy to handle It. I recommend getting an early start so you can knock off the 7 miles before the switchbacks in the dark; you’ll see them during the descent anyway!

POST HIKE:
Treat yourself to a Whitney Portal Store burger and a beer. You’ve definitely earned it after 22 miles hiked and over a mile of elevation gain. It’s definitely a bucket list hike, and a 14k peak that is accessible to almost anyone with the right plan. Good luck, and remember, drink your water!!

off road driving
6 days ago

Went with a group of vehicles back in the first of July. this is a fun trail and if your rig has 35" tires or smaller you will be scraping your undercarriage. A few one rig got some body damage, one broke a ball joint. I would suggest taking at least one person with experience on this trail. Plan spending more time because there is a nice stream to hangout at and Lake Alpine, plus some of the obstacles can be tough.

Awesome bucket list hike with my friends Ben and Zach. Our hike was July 22/23rd 2018. We had done a lot of research and wanted a high chance of success so we slept at the Whitney Portal to acclimate then backpacked up to trail camp and spent an exciting afternoon with heavy hail, lightning, freezing rain, etc. It was definitely extreme weather and we were well prepared so we were able to wait it out and enjoy a gorgeous evening. The views were amazing and the trail is in great shape (better than the local 6 pack of trails in Southern California!). The weather pattern on the mountain had been lightning and hail starting around 1pm each day so we left trail camp around 3am and hit the 99 switchbacks. As many folks have noted, they actually were not that difficult. The sunrise was spectacular as we approached trail crest. The last lag on the backside of the mountain was the most treacherous as it was very icy and made for a slow trek to the summit. We enjoyed the view, had a snack, hydrated and after signing the log we were on trail back down. Our goal was to break camp and get down to the tree line before the lightning and hail started. We were partially successful as we made it about a mile down from trail camp before the lightning and hail started. It was a pretty miserable hiking in the hail, rain, sleet, lightning, with heavy packs on (yes we carried way too much!). Overall a huge success- no one got sick or injured and we all made the summit. It was a bucket list hike that we have wanted to do for a few years so we were all very pleased with the accomplishment!

off road driving
7 days ago

Solo run yesterday. Fantastic trail. Clear of fallen trees. Bring your swimsuit

Well maintained trail. Continual uphill but manageable. Use restroom at trailhead and carry water. Hundreds of thousands butterflies, awesome Visited early on a Monday and crowds were thin. I’d have to recommend Trekking poles. Even under smoky conditions views were good.

loved this hike with my family. my 7 year old daughter complained a lot until she saw the water fall and got to swim. she also swam in the lake and that made up for her complaining. it was fun for the family! you can picnic in the lagoons, lots of boaters came in and picnicked on the shore. the water is beautiful and turquoise for a lake. just loved it!

off road driving
8 days ago

New reroute is open

9 days ago

Perfect for the hot summer months.

TLDR: Incredible hike. Train hard. Pay attention to the weather!

Summited Whitney as a day hike on my first attempt. I had been following the weather very closely and chose to hit the trail at 3:30am in order to summit before the thunderstorms began firing off. The climb up took about 6:15 moving time. I got to spend about 30 minutes at the summit and standing on top that mountain it was an incredible feeling. The storms started building and I ended up making back to Trail Crest before the first crack of thunder. It poured (and hailed) all the way back to Lone Pine Lake. I mention all this because I watched ALOT of Whitney attempts get ruined due to the weather. TRAIN HARD so you can summit quickly and watch the weather closely...

Some things to consider. Water is very plentiful all the way to Trail Crest. It is unlikely you will need to carry a ton of water so long as you have your filter. This will allow you to drop several pounds from your pack.

Though the trail looks technical in pictures and video, its actually pretty tame all the way to the ridgeline. There is a tiny bit of scrambling here and there past Trail Crest.

When the trail narrows, its still plenty wide. Don't let those Go Pro lenses on YouTube fool you.

If you are a SoCal hiker, then I highly recommend a few local hikes to use for training. San Gorgonio via Momyer or Vivian Creek, San Jacinto via Deer Creek or Skyline Trail and Baldy via Bear Canyon combine with Three T's Trail. These trails will help build your legs and bolster your cardiovascular endurance. When these trails become somewhat easy, you're ready for a Whitney attempt. Why would I recommend a few trails more difficult in terms of gain and why wait until they're easy? It just goes back to training hard so can have a successful summit. Why waste the time, effort and money for the permit, plus the money to get there and spend the night only to neglect the body that's going to get you there? Safe travels!

11 days ago

Wow. A great hike.

Great afternoon hike! Most is on a clearly defined, wide trail, although there are smaller paths if you want. It is worth hiking to the very top (there is a pole to define it). Great overview of SLO!

Awesome hike, even more awesome view from Dewey Point.

We went on a Sunday during peak season and barely saw anyone.

It was hot and sunny so even with 2L each we came back dry. I wish I'd have had the stamina to keep going on to Crocker and Stanford Points.

Pretty amazing excursion to say the least. The key thing to summit is proper training beforehand. The hard work will pay off!

Beautiful trail. We did it in about 7 hours with 45 minutes at the top. The heat definitely got to us as well as the last couple miles. The views were still spectacular even though it was smoky. Stay Hydrated out there!

Myself and 2 buddies did this hike all for the first time. We left the trailhead at 3:45am. Each of us carried two liters of water to Trail Camp, where we filtered water and carried 3 liters up to the summit as this is the final place for reliable water. We made the summit at 11am with beautiful blue skies and a few big, white puffy clouds. After 45 minutes at the summit for lunch and pics, we headed down with overcast skies and drizzles. Afternoon thunderstorms are no joke up there - moved in way fast. We took our sweet time coming down and made it down in just under 6 hours. Absolutely epic hike! Highly recommend layering up, carrying trekking poles, and wearing lots of sunscreen.

Trip Report 7/28- 1st timer
Such an epic hike. Slept in the car the night before. (6pm -12:15am) Started at 12:45am - hiked up to Trail Camp in the dark and watched the sunrise as we were filtering our water. The hardest part for me was Trail Crest both up and down, each step on rocks is brutal. We reached the summit at 10:45am. I experienced minimal altitude sickness thank goodness! I started taking chlorophyll pills 2 days before and took chlorophyll and ibuprofen during the hike. I had a very very minor headache but I also related that to the heat.

Pack for a long day. Carry your 10 essential. Drink water often even if it’s just a sip every 15 mins. Nibble on food throughout the hike. Pack out your poop. Check the weather, as the weeks and day before we hiked there was thunderstorms and hail. The day before thunderstorms began at 4pm. 7/28 was the perfect day, clear all day. Only downside was very hazy I heard it was due to the fires nearby. The way down is brutal, it seemed never ending but I just pushed through the foot pain to get back to the trailhead. We finished at 6:30pm.

I did it!!! Much respect to everyone completing this hike.

hiking
15 days ago

Another perfect hike, this 5 mile stair climber goes up about 2000 feet via a well-maintained trail of switchbacks and through snow and glacier fields. The top is at the weather station and solar panels and is a fairly easy climb if you are careful about where you step. The crushed rock and sand can be slick on smooth rocks. We had a perfect day and were surrounded with thousands of migrating tortoiseshell butterflies. Trail was very busy the week of July 4th, with some folks skiing on the snow fields. If you visit Lassen, don't miss this hike! And take your shoes off in Lake Helen afterwards.

An amazing but grueling hike! Completed 7.28. Started at about 1 am, lucked out with a full moon, and was able to hike in the moonlight for part of the night. Reached trail camp just in time to enjoy watching the sunrise. Then onward to summit. Parts of the trail were wet so had to watch your footing. No ice or snow on the trail but could see large patches off to the sides. Had amazing views at the peak, though could see some of the haze presumably from the Yosemite fires. Plenty of places to fill up on water, making me wish I hadn’t brought quite so much to weigh down my pack. Saw several Marmots, a deer, and a pika during the hike. Total time was about 18.5 hrs. This was a great experience!

Hiked 7/25. Party of 3 all who live at sea level. Left at 0300. Reached summit at 1130 with a couple of folks having nausea. Lots of water on the trail. Bring a filtration system. Poles are a must have for trip up and down. Do not even attempt this if you aren’t prepared for a very long day (14+ hours).

hiking
16 days ago

Came across a juvenile bear and later on bear scat directly on the trail. (Panther Gap). Beautiful trail!

Left at 2:30 AM. Didn’t feel very good when I left. Got to trail crest at 11:30. My water filter plugged and had only consumed 1/2 liter of water. Wasn’t feeling good at all and decided the best thing was to turn back. I felt that I had failed. I talked to hikers that were going up for a second or third time. I asked why would anyone want to tackle this monster more than once, they answered “just wait”. I’m 77 years old and am probably going to find the climb more difficult as time passes, I want to finish the last 2 miles the next time!

1 day Summit on 7/24/18. 1st time in mountain. Party of 3 . Left trail head at 2:30 am after sleeping at best western lone pine. Trail camp in 3 hrs after many water crossings. Feet stayed dry with waterproof hiking shoes and trekking poles. Ice and snow above trail crest made trail slippery. Reached summit at 8:45 am and spent 45 minutes enjoying awesome views. Started back down at 9:30am and reached portal at 2:30 pm for 12 hour round trip. Trekking poles and waterproof shoes are a must. Water sources plentiful even up to trail crest so no need to carry extra water. Views rivaled those on the high Teton peaks.

Great hike! Up up and up! Perfect blue skies and tons of butterflies. Then took a refreshing dip in Lake Helen after to sooth the muscles. If you’re in a Lassen, it’s a must-do!

hiking
17 days ago

Back your car into an open space near the sign for Green Valley Campground and walk through the campground. There are several restrooms at the campground and the trail head is at the far end of the campground past the closed rd sign. At the first fork stay to the trail on the far right to 2N13A. Take that trail all the way to the peak. The last mile or so was covered in shale and kid of slippery especially on the way back down. It takes a bit of a rock scramble to get to the actual peak and there were plenty of angry red ants near the top so be careful where you sit. There were also a lot of gnats in the morning and a fair amount of shade. Not some much shade or as many gnats on the way back down. You can see Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake at the top and there are some other pretty views along the way. Counting the walk through the campground and on the closed rd to the trailhead we clocked about 8 miles to the peak.

Great hike! The wildflowers are amazing this time of year. The trail is very crowded which can make it hard to enjoy the area where the majority of wildflowers are. Once you get to the lakes though its easy to find a spot to be alone. Both parking lots were full by 10am. Amazing hike for dogs! My guy loved all the water to drink and play in. Saw a million other labradoodles out that day.

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