Hiking The Mount Whitney Trail: My Guided, Tips & Photos
Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada! That means it's the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states besides Hawaii and Alaska!!
At an elevation of 14,505 feet, it has 99 switchbacks and is categorized as a strenuous hike. Let me just say if you're not an avid hiker and you plan on hiking Mount Whitney, be sure to prepare yourself! Many people get altitude sickness due to the elevation change so my recommendation would be to camp the night prior to acclimate yourself. Also, depending on time of year you hike, the trail can be covered in snow or if the snow is melting it can make the trail slippery and dangerous. Some have summited in a day without setting up camp and resting but I wouldn't suggest it unless you're an experienced hiker.
If you need to acclimate yourself to the elevation, situated at the base of the trail is Whitney portal which is a great option and awesome camp site with a fishing lake, small gift shop and restaurant. There are many camp options so just choose what's best for you. My friends and I chose to camp at Onion Valley Campgrounds the night prior to acclimate ourself to the elevation and drove the next morning to Whitney Portal to parked at the base before hiking.
The elevation change on this hike made for some of the most spectacular and memorable views I've ever seen. The trail would be dry rocky paths that opened up to lush green meadows, streams and lakes.
Outpost Camp and Trail Camp are the only two places along the trail you can camp. We opted to set up camp at Trail Camp.
It's about 3.5 miles from the start of the trail and a beautiful place to camp if you're taking your time. It's nestled in the corner of the meadows along a stretch of dirt and rocks. If you're trying to make day 2 less grueling I suggest pushing forward and camping at Trail Camp.
This campsite looks bare and desolate but theres flat space that makes for a good place to set up your tent. There are quite a few spots that have rock walls stacked up to help block the high winds that this high elevation is known for and a big lake where you can filter and refill your water supply as this is the last spot to do so before you make the trek up to summit.
-That restaurant makes the BIGGEST pancakes! One pancake can feed 3-5 people depending on your appetite
-If you're going to eat first let your food digest!! We made the huge mistake of hiking right after and we were miserable!
-Distance: About 22 miles round trip (expect to hike 12-14 hours to the summit and back)
-Dog friendly: Dogs are allowed but can not hike past Trail Camp
-Kid Friendly: We didn't see many kids on the trail and few have summited. I didn't read anything that says they are not allowed but due to how strenuous the hike is just be careful as the trails can get narrow and slippery depending on the season
-Do I need a permit? Yes. (for both day hikes and overnights)
-Where do I get a permit? www.recreation.gov (book ahead of time, this trail is very popular)
-Must bring bear-proof container to store food or scented items
-Visitors to Mt. Whitney are expected to pack out their solid human waste. Which means when you pick up your permit it will come with a "wag bag" (the bag you poop in and carry out!)