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Mount Whitney via Main Trail

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The highest peak in the lower 48 states.
Near:Lone Pine, CA
Distance:22 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:6000 ft
Hike Time:12 hours
Trail Condition:Well maintained trail
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: What can I say? Twenty-two miles, over 6800' in elevation gain, highest peak (14,497') in the lower 48 states. This is a tough hike, but WELL worth the effort. This is one day hike that you must have a permit for. They are chosen on a lottery system starting in February. Contact the NFS for details. Be sure to drink plenty of water and snack often. This seemed to help me immensely with acclimatization. I had no troubles, other than being tired, on my trip. You won't want to leave that camera behind on this one!!

For more details and photos visit my website The Backcountry: Mt. Whitney.

Trailhead: On US Highway 395 from Lone Pine head west to the Whitney Portal approximately 15 miles away. Park your car in the lot and be sure to store any food in the bear lockers. (Lat:36.5785 Lon:-118.292)
Trail Guides for Mount Whitney via Main Trail:
The High Sierra Guide: Mt. Whitney
by Thomas Winnett  (Wilderness Press)

California Hiking
by Tom Stienstra & Ann Marie Brown  (Foghorn Press)

Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Inyo National Forest, (760) 873-2400
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Mike Matenkosky, who has posted  18 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews  Submit your own review
Reviewed by Bob M. on 9/3/2008
Went up to Whitney Portals on 9/1/2008 for altitude adaption. Stayed there all day and watched the maddening labor day crowd exit. As soon as the sun went behind the mountains it got "COLD". Slept in the SUV and arose at 0100 on 9/2 and couldn't get dressed fast enough (It was even COLDER now). Took the main trail to the summit and encountered a Ranger along the way actually checking for permits !!!! All in all it was a good day hike. I went to the new Mt. Whitney Hostel in Lone Pine and showered before driving home. The hostess gave me the "penny tour" of the facility. REALLY NICE for $20.00 a night !!!!

Reviewed by Bob M. on 7/19/2008
Went up to Lone Pine on Monday 7/15 with my permit application in hand only to learn that no permits were being issued for 7/16 (My climbing date) due to adverse weather on the mountain and hazardous road conditions on the portals trail road. :( Photos posted online illustrated huge boulders on the road and flash floods. Headlines said "Worst flooding in 21 years!!!" Needless to say Caltrans stepped up to the plate, cleared the road and permits were issued late that day. OUTSTANDING weather for the next day, took tons of photos and made it to the top in 4:46. It hurt but I'm going back for more. Overall well worth it...

Reviewed by The Mad Hiker on 10/12/2007
I took the Mountaineer Route when I did this one. If you are not in shape, don't even think about doing it. It wasn't that bad for me. Got to the chute and had to turn around; the rest of my party was demolished. I will do it again in the spring. I highly recommend the Mountaineer Route over the Trail for those who like to get a good workout and can really move. This was the first hike I've done in a couple of years and the altitude still did not affect me. If you use your head, acclimatize...and you'll be alright.

Reviewed by 0li on 8/19/2007
my friend and I just hiked this on 8-17-2007. started out very early at 1:30 am at the portal. we hiked in the dark until the sun started rising while we were on the first few switch backs. i started feeling the altitude at around 12,500 or 13,000 feet. once past trail crest is where i had the most difficulty. once at the top i took a break and laid down on a rock and elevated my feet and put on a new pair of socks and ate some food and drank lots of water. the way down was hardest for me until i passed trail crest, from there on it was easy. it was my first time and we did it in 17 hours

Reviewed by jk on 7/29/2007
my 15 yr. old son and I completed an up and back in 11 hours and 50 minutes. It was awesome, like walking in an Ansel Adams painting! Really was not that difficult until the switchbacks but we got through them and to the top! Even in July it was very cold (about 30* and very windy at the top). Try to get above them before 10 or 11 when the sun starts baking them! We were very prepared and went with the following: 2 bananas,6 gatorade, a survival kit, parkas, 172* of water in Camelbacks, raisins, 4 sandwiches, oranges, apples, tons o fruit roll ups. We met a lot of people who had run out of water and a few who were actually lost or separated from their parties.If we were to do it again we WOULD stay at one of the two camps overnight.

Reviewed by Pete on 8/23/2003
My sixteen year old son, his friend and I just completed Mt. Whitney in one day. This was the third time I have been to the Summit but the first time in one day. We made the trip in 14 hrs. Although difficult it was probably the best trip. The weather closed in within minutes of reaching the summit. We got about 4-6 inches of snow from the summit to trail camp. This just added to the adventure. 8-20-03

Reviewed by Bob C on 5/31/2003
To help with acclimization, we've camped first day just west of the town of Lone Pine, next morning up to the Whitney Portal, there all day and evening. We start out the next morning about 4:30. It's a long day, but with only day pack or fanny pack, it is easier than making the hike an overnighter with all the extra gear needed. And, doing it in 1 day you are only adding about 5 miles. Those doing an ON usually camp at the lake at 12,000, next morning go on up to the summit with day packs, back to the lake to pick up rest of their gear and back down to the Portal. Thus, they are doing 3/4 of the hike in one day, with much more equipment. Take along aspirin or other pain reliever for headaches AND ginger root tablets for nausea, they do he

Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, Inyo County Hiking, Inyo County Trails, Inyo County Hikes

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