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Mount Whitney Trail

Difficult
 4.7 (11)

A popular, strenuous journey to the highest peak in the contiguous United States. A must-do.


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Map Key

8.4

Miles

13.5

KM

Point to Point

13,630' 4,154 m

High

8,359' 2,548 m

Low

5,286' 1,611 m

Up

184' 56 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

43%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Lake · Views

Wilderness permits are always required for this trail, and between May 1 and November 1, a quota permits only 60 overnight users and 100 day users per day: fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/pas…

Description

At Whitney Portal, find the trailhead for the Mount Whitney Trail located below the Whitney Portal Store. Climb along the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek along several long switchbacks. Pass Lone Pine Lake at 2.8 miles. This is as far as hikers can go without a day or overnight permit.

At 3.5 miles you'll reach Bighorn Park, a scenic meadow with granite cliffs on both sides. A short while later is Outpost Camp at 3.8 miles. Following Outpost Camp is Mirror Lake. There is no camping allowed at Mirror Lake due to damage from overuse some decades ago.

Continue climbing through the increasingly rocky landscape to Trail Camp at 6.3 miles. Trail Camp is popular with Whitney climbers doing overnight trips.

Past Trail Camp are the infamous 99 switchbacks that climb the granite slope to Trail Crest, at 8.5 miles and 13,645 feet - the highest trail pass in the United States. You'll get your first views west of the mountains, and they are spectacular. During the winter and spring, the switchbacks may be covered with snow and inaccessible. In this case, hikers must instead climb The Chute to Trail Crest using winter mountaineering gear. It may be tempting to glissade down The Cute on return from the summit, but the area can have hidden rocks and is dangerously icy once it freezes in the shadow of the mountain.

Once you've come this far, it's a close jaunt to the summit of Mount Whitney, but you'll need to transition to the John Muir Trail to get to the top. Check out the Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail hike for full information.

Dog information: Part of the trail is in the Inyo National Forest, which permits dogs. Dogs must be kept on a leash no more than 6 feet long during the day, and in a tent or vehicle at night. Dogs are not allowed in developed campgrounds. The trail from approximately Trail Crest to the summit is in the Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, which does not allow dogs.

Contacts

Shared By:

Amanda Rosenblum

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 11 votes

#375

Overall
  4.7 from 11 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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3 Star
9%
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1 Star
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Trail Rankings

#47

in California

#375

Overall
26 Views Last Month
1,908 Since Apr 26, 2019
Difficult

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70%
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Photos

It's a long, rough trail to the summit of Mount Whitney.
Jun 27, 2017 near Lone Pine, CA
Enjoying the Moment: Hikers at Mt Whitney Trail, Highest Peak in Continental USA with permission from Elena Omelchenko
Apr 19, 2016 near Lone Pine, CA
Daybreak looking down on Trail Camp from the middle of the 99 switchbacks. Can you find the tents?
May 2, 2017 near Lone Pine, CA
09/11/2018 Trail Crest looking west towards Hitchcock Lakes and Sequoia.  Cloudless day and only a breeze.
Sep 28, 2018 near Lone Pine, CA
Suns coming up!  Whitney Trail 6:30am
Sep 28, 2018 near Lone Pine, CA
Just above Outpost Camp Jul 31, 2019
Mar 2, 2020 near Lone Pine, CA

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Check-Ins

Aug 6, 2019
Meg Krane
11mi — 10h 00m
Aug 5, 2018
Red Beard
Day hike descent after Mountaineers Route ascent 10.7mi
Jul 31, 2018
Nanci Sumaya
Started aprox 3:30 am and finished aprox 5pm. Got caught in a thunderstorm & lightning storm and had to make a mad dash to the trail camp! 20.5mi
Aug 14, 2017
Neil McL
Jun 12, 2017
Al Pascual