Mount Whitney is a wonderful location that inspires awe in many who visit. That is why it is such an exciting and sought after climb. The Mountain holds the exciting title of being the highest mountain in the contiguous United States. Its not a title the mountain takes lightly, and it lives up to its leadership role with being an epic place that adventurers with a variety of skills can enjoy and appreciate. The eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is truly a sight to behold. Merely being in its presence, at its base, one feels the awe of the enormity of the peak. If you want to just be in the mountain’s presence, but not spend time on its faces, you can camp at the Whitney Portal.
What Makes It Great
Climbing to the top of the 14,505 ft. peak takes preparation, timing, hard work, luck and a national park permit, oh which there is a limited number. Because of all these stipulations, this specific piece is being written about the part of Mt Whitney that you can hike without really any of these things. The hike in question travels 2.5 miles up the mountain to the point that requires a permit. That is not to downplay this adventure, for an afternoon this hike is amazing.
The hike begins at the Whitney Portal Campground, the place where most hikers and climbers who are going to summit Mt Whitney begin their journey. The entire hike for the most part is made up of long winding switchbacks of single track hiking trail. Even though it is an incredibly well traveled trail, it is still extremely well kept.
The hike offers neat views of the little valley formed by the legs of Mt Whitney as well as the not so little sheer rock faces that make their way up to the summit. Unfortunately, this piece of the Whitney hike does not give you views of the summit of the mountain, this is something you will need to find lower down off the mountain. It is too big and too steep to be seen while on it.
The hike is worth it as you go on because there is an immensely beautiful mountain pond to sit by if you are not the swimmer type, and dip in if you have the ability to handle ice-cold water.
***Note: There are often people climbing off the summit as you walk up. Be careful to give them the right of way as you ascend, as they will be very tired.
Who is Going to Love It
This hike will be loved by anyone who is willing to put in a little bit of hard work and sweat a bit. If you have knee issues, this might not be a great hike though, as the downhill section will be potentially painful. You will see all types of people walking up this trail, from experienced hikers to novices just trying it out. Give it a try, and if you need to turn around, you can wait for your friends at the café at the bottom where you will find all the food you could want.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Lone Pine, CA take Whitney Portal Road from the center of town. The road will take you all the way up through the Alabama Hills, past Lone Pine Campground (a good fall back spot if there are no sites to stay at up in the Portal), and up to the trailhead. Parking is free.