Mount Whitney Trail, Lone Pine

4.9
#21 of 44 in Parks in California Desert
The Mount Whitney Trail is a trail that climbs Mount Whitney. It starts at Whitney Portal, 13mi west of the town of Lone Pine, California. The hike is about 22mi round trip, with an elevation gain of over 6100ft. It is an extremely popular trail, and its access is restricted by quotas from May to October.HistoryThe original pack trail from Lone Pine to the summit of Mount Whitney was designed by local engineer Gustave Marsh. This original trail, opened on July 22, 1904, was the basis for most of today's Mount Whitney Trail.RouteThe Mount Whitney Trail starts at Whitney Portal. Almost anyone in good physical shape with a desire to succeed has a good chance of hiking to the summit. The trail does not head up the direct route to the summit by the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, as this is a very steep route used by mountaineers. Instead, it follows the gentler main branch of Lone Pine Creek to its source, and then climbs by 97 switchbacks to the Sierra crest about 2.5mi south of the summit. The trail then travels very close to the crest of the range until reaching the summit plateau. This longer "dogleg" route makes possible a standard hiking trail. During peak season the trail is well-maintained and easy to follow. When the mountain clears of snow and ice, usually in early to mid summer, it requires no mountaineering or winter gear. Beyond Trail Crest pass the trail loses a small amount of elevation that is gained on the return. In this final stretch of the trail, on the west side of Whitney's needle-like south ridge, some sections of the trail must be rebuilt after each winter. The views here of the interior High Sierra can be extraordinary, due in part to the precipitous exposure. The crowning views are had on the summit of Whitney, where the trail ends at the Smithsonian Institution Shelter.
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Mount Whitney Trail Reviews
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  • The trail to the top of Mount Whitney top of is like a freeway. If you want peace and quiet there are better hikes. But there is something about climbing the tallest mountain in the continental United...  more »
  • Amazing views along the entire trail, was traveling really fast until the crest then I started to feel the altitude. The last ridge doesn't seem to end but eventually the hut comes over the horizon an...  more »
  • This is one of the most beautiful trails I have ever been to. It starts at around 8,400 feet elevation and goes all the way 14,500 to Mt. Whitney summit. If you start early you can see the stunning su...  more »

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Where to stay in Lone Pine

Large motels are an ever-popular option, with simple rooms, relaxed atmosphere, and that feeling of on-the-road independence. Comfortable inns offer restaurants and outdoor pools and are the more upscale of the town's options, while campgrounds cater to budget-conscious travelers. None of the accommodations are located very far from Highway 395 and the town's amenities.
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