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Summit of Mt. Whitney

Inyo County, California

based on 8 reviews



20.85 miles

Elevation Gain

6100 ft

Route Type



Added by Gregg Boydston

Summit the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney. This hike can be done as either an overnight or with an early start, done in one day. At the peak, enjoy fantastic views of the Sierras with plenty of photo opportunities.

Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. It stands over 14,500ft high at its peak (elevation gain of 6100') and it sure feels like it when you are up there.

Getting There

Located just West of Lone Pine, CA you take Whitney Portal Road West for 13 miles all the way to its end. You will enter a small, what seems like a village, that will have last-minute supplies and plenty of parking.

The Hike

I chose to take the single-day route and make it a turnaround trip. By stepping onto the trail at 1:00 a.m., I was able to watch the sunrise over a quick break at the "Trail Crest" location a couple of hours before the peak. As the sun started to light the path, I was able to take in the gorgeous scenery. From lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and massive rock cliffs, it was quite a sight to see. 

The 99 switchbacks are one of the most challenging parts of the hike. This section connects the trail camp to the high ridge and gains roughly 1,800 feet. Once you've pushed through this section, it's 2-miles to the summit. 

By 7:00 am I was standing at the top looking East into what felt like the midwest. The wind did pick up for the last 20 minutes of hiking or so but don't worry, there is a warming hut at the top to make a warm cup of coffee and rest the legs before the long walk back down. Don't forget to sign your name in the log!

The walk down was just as enjoyable as this time it was daylight for the entire walk. Plenty of lakes to take a dip in if you are warm, and plenty of places to stop for a quick break and take some photos.

By 1:00 pm I was back to the trailhead and eager to sit down for that delightful hamburger a cold beer at the Whitney Portal Store, which you can't miss.


There are bathrooms at the campground at the trailhead. 

Preparation and Training

For more information on preparing and training for Mt. Whitney, you can read more in the story So you want to hike Mt. Whitney

Permits & Contact Info

Contact for Mt. Whitney permits and updated weather reports:

Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center
Junction of Highway 395 and State Route 136
2 miles south of Lone Pine, CA 93545

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Summit of Mt. Whitney Reviews

It's a hell of a hike. I did the week long backpack through Shepard's pass where you end at Whitney and that trail down is rough. For the day hike your final ascent will be up something around 100 switch backs which is compounded by the lack of oxygen. It's an amazing hike and certainly one worth doing but be extremely wary of the altitude because even just walking at that altitude can be challenging. Make sure you spend a day or two camping at the base to get acclimated to the initial altitude before you head up the extra 6k feet

Amazing. Views and trail cannot be beat. Be prepared with your mountaineering gear during all seasons except the mid/late-summer though. We reached the ridge trail via the snow-filled chute next to the switchbacks (saves time and energy) due to ice on the hiking trail in May, so ice axes and crampons were necessary. I recommend overnight camping at the Portal before starting the trek to adjust to the altitude.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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