MT. WHITNEY TRAILS
Every year thousands travel to Whitney Portal with their hearts
set on attaining the summit of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in
the contiguous United States. By far the most popular route on Mt.
Whitney is the hiking trail built in 1904. To maintain the wilderness
character of the hike and to prevent overcrowding there are daily
quotas for the trail during the peak season. The 11
mile Whitney Trail leads to the highest peak in the "lower 48".
It is the most frequently climbed peak in the Sierra Nevada, if
not in the U.S. You'll find our Whitney Area Guide Map a good place to start your adventure.
TRAILHEAD ELEVATION -8,365 feet
HIGHEST ELEVATION -14,496 ft. (summit)
TRAIL DIFFICULTY- Moderate to Strenuous, especially to those not acclimated to high altitude. Altitude sickness can be a problem.
SEASON- Normally, the trail is free of snow from mid-July to early October. Ice patches frequently remain on the switchbacks above Trail Camp all summer long.
Wilderness Permits are required year-round for
all overnight hikes and for day hikes past Lone Pine Lake.
WHITNEY PORTAL TRAILHEAD
Whitney Portal can be reached by driving 13 miles west of Lone Pine on Whitney Portal Road. Whitney Portal Road intersects Highway 395 at the traffic signal in downtown Lone Pine. The road is usually open from May to early November. In the winter, the last 6 miles of the road are not plowed.
The trail is rated moderate to strenuous, depending upon your experience and
skill level. At high elevations, altitude sickness affects many
people. You can put yourself in danger by pushing yourself past
your physical limits. Headaches, dizziness and nausea are symptoms
that should not be ignored. If you begin showing signs of altitude sickness you should descend to a lower elevation immediately.
Whitney Trailhead Facilities
FOREST SERVICE CAMPGROUNDS: Some sites are available first-come/first-served some may be reserved
WHITNEY PORTAL: Located 1 mile east of the Portal. There are 44-unit family campground sites (piped water & flush toilets). Fee based.
WHITNEY PORTAL TRAILHEAD: It is located next to the overnight parking area. This is a 10-unit hiker campground: one night limit. Fee.
WHITNEY PORTAL GROUP CAMPGROUND: Group sites available by making Whitney Campground reservations. Campsites at Whitney Portal are usually open approx. May 15 - Oct.15.
LONE PINE: Lone Pine Campground is 6 miles west of Lone Pine on Whitney-Portal Road. There are 44 unit family campground sites - piped water & vault toilets. Fee. Open year-long; no piped water November to May.
PICNIC AREA: Day use area, picnic tables, grills, & fishing pond with handicapped accessible fishing ramp.
WHITNEY PORTAL STORE/CAFÉ: Open during summer months, supplies, meals, souvenirs, showers. Cellular pay telephone. Come get your "I climbed Mt. Whitney" T-shirt here.
PARKING: Parking is limited. Backpackers must park in paved overnight areas. Follow the rules, they will ticket and tow. Overflow parking is located 500 ft. east of trailhead.
DRINKING WATER: Available at the Portal.
WILDLIFE at Mt. Whitney
Many animals call the Mt. Whitney area their home. You may see black bears, marmots, squirrels and birds. Their diet consists of
food obtained from the natural environment. When animals eat human
food, it is unhealthy for them and it can change their behavior.
In some cases it can spell death for the animal. Please help us
in an effort to keep black bears, marmots and other animals from
obtaining human food. Keep them out of your food and garbage b storing
your food properly. Keep a good distance between you and wild animals.
Do not try to approach or feed these animals. Hand feeding them
puts your life, and theirs, at risk. Remember, you are a visitor
to the place they call home; so treat them with respect. Please
know how to store your food correctly
-- it protects the wildlife and guarantees that you will not go
hungry on your trip.
WEATHER & EQUIPMENT
Summer days may be warm at lower elevations, but at higher elevations it will be cooler. You may need a down jacket in July, when it is 90 degrees at the trailhead. Even in summer the following conditions may exist: rain, wind, lightning, snow, ice and below freezing temperatures. Afternoon thunderstorms are common and may show no warning of their arrival. These storms build quickly and can occur daily. If clouds appear before noon, precipitation is likely to happen. Above tree line it is difficult to find shelter from lightning strikes. At the first signs of lightning, assess your situation and decide if you should turn around. Check the weather forecast before you start your trip.
Equipment needs vary according to the time of year, the condition of the trail and your mountaineering skills. Layered clothing, rain gear, good boots, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat are advisable. At anytime of year one or more of the following may be recommended: crampons, ice ax, snowshoes, skis, ski poles and walking sticks. You and every member of your party should know how to use this equipment properly before hiking up the mountain. Only you will know what your specific equipment needs are for a successful hike. Be aware; you may need an ice ax on a section where another can easily walk without one. Knowledge of your safety gear may mean the difference between life and death.
The presence of Giardia in backcountry water poses a serious
health problem. Filter, boil or chemically treat all drinking water. Water is available near the trail as far as Trail Camp. Carry water to the summit, as there is no dependable source of water after Trail
To help protect the water quality, there are toilets at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp. There is a pit toilet at the summit. The facilities at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp are for solid wastes only. Toilet paper is not supplied. If toilets are not available, please dispose of human waste at least 200 feet from water, and bury it in soil at least 6 inches (15 cm) deep, or pack it out. Pack out your toilet paper. Do not bury sanitary napkins or tampons; pack them out. A plastic bag with a seal works well.
MT. WHITNEY WILDERNESS REGULATIONS
- A wilderness permit is required for all overnight and day hikes beyond Lone Pine Lake. Permits prevent overcrowding and protect the resource.
- Fires are not permitted. Fires scar the landscape and use wood that the next generation of trees is dependent upon.
- Bears are imminent. Proper Food Storage is required. Food storage keeps you and the animals out of danger
- Trailside Meadow and Mirror Lakes are closed to overnight camping. These areas were subject to overuse in the past
- Pack and saddle stock are prohibited
- Pets and firearms are not allowed in Sequoia National Park, located 8.5 miles from the trailhead
- Stay on the maintained trail, and do not shortcut the switchbacks. It causes destructive erosion and shortens the life of the trail
- Pack out all your garbage including toilet paper
- Campfires are not permitted; trash burning is prohibited; portable gas stoves are strongly recommended.
- Fires are also prohibited in adjacent Sequoia National Park above the 11,200-foot level.
- Carry out what you carry in!
- Pack and saddle stock are prohibited.
- A California State Fishing License is required for fishing.
- State fishing regulations apply in the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia National Park backcountry.
- Discharging of firearms in the wilderness is permitted only for taking of wildlife as allowed by state law.
- No hunting is allowed in the National Park.
- Toilet structures have bean installed at the summit, Outpost and Trail Camps to help protect water quality. They are extremely expensive to maintain. Please pack out all trash.
This page represents only a portion of the things you need to know when hiking Mt. Whitney. You would be well advised to plan ahead, read, and ask questions from locals who know the area and trail. A good place to start this adventure is with the Forest Service. They're here to make your experience positive.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mt. Whitney Forest Rangers
P.O. Box 8, Lone Pine, CA. 93545
Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce
Toll Free: 1.877.253.8981