The Mt. Whitney Trail is located in the John Muir Wilderness. When it is free of snow, the trail provides a strenuous, non-technical route to the summit of Mt. Whitney, and to Sequoia National Park.
The Mountaineers Route, East Face and East Buttress, are accessed via the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek Trail.
Wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips in the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia National Park, and for all day trips in the Mt. Whitney Zone.
May 1 through October 31, use is limited by daily entry quotas:
Overnight hikers: 60/day
Day hikers: 100/day
Obtain permits at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center, located 1 mile south of Lone Pine, CA, at the junction of Highway 395 and State Route 136. During quota season, permits are available during business hours. Outside of quota season, permits may be self-issued after hours.
* Exit quota applies to visitors who end a trip on the Mt. Whitney Trail, but begin it elsewhere.
Permits for the quota season may be reserved in advance.
Reservations cost $6/group + $15/person.
Most reservations are allocated during an on-line "lottery". Apply for the lottery between February 1 and March 15. Apply for the lottery at recreation.gov.
After the lottery, beginning on May 1, remaining permits may be reserved on a first come first served basis. Reserve after the lottery at recreation.gov .
At a Glance
||12/07/2013: Whitney Portal Road is closed approximately 4 miles from the trailhead. Winter snowpack is developing. Snowshoes, crampons and ice axes are strongly recommended. Be prepared for winter conditions. ALWAYS obtain a current weather forecast before visiting. Winter storms may include heavy snowfall, extreme wind and sub-zero temperatures. Every year some visitors underestimate the ferocity of winter storms at Mt. Whitney, and become the subjects of Search & Rescue missions. Several incidents have already occured this winter.
Lone Pine, CA
From Lone Pine, CA, travel 13 miles west on Whitney Portal Road. The Mt. Whitney trailhead is located on the north side of the road at Whitney Portal.
Parking is available at the trailhead. Please minimize the number of vehicles that your group uses.
There is a high level of bear activity at the trailhead. Remove all food and trash from vehicles and place in bear-proof lockers and trash receptacles.
Dispose of waste properly.
The only acceptable way to dispose of human waste is to pack it out. Human waste pack-out kits are distributed with wilderness permits. In 2012, Mt. Whitney visitors pack out about 3.5 tons of human waste.
Store food and trash in bear-proof containers.
From Memorial Day weekend through October 31, all food, trash and scented items must be stored in bear-proof containers. More...
Safety is your responsibility!
Wilderness travel involves an element of risk. Before visiting, develop a plan for dealing with emergencies. Travel with your group at all times. Report emergencies to Inyo County Sheriff at (760)878-0383. It may take up to several days for help to arrive.
Searches and Rescues are managed by Inyo County Sheriff and Inyo County SAR, a non-profit all volunteer organization. The team responds to an average of 50 emergencies per year, mostly on the Mt. Whitney Trail during the summer months.
Camp in established campsites.
There are no developed campgrounds along the Mt. Whitney Trail. Camp in established campsites OR on durable surfaces, such as snow, granite or barren sand and gravel. Established sites are scattered along the trail, and are concentrated around Lone Pine Lake, Outpost Camp and Trail Camp.
Camping is prohibited:
At Mirror Lake
At Trailside Meadow
Within 25’ of the trail
Within 100’ of water
Season descriptions are approximate. Every year is different, and conditions may vary considerably.
July to Mid-September: Relatively snow free. Severe thunderstorms are possible.
Mid-September through October: Shorter days and cooler weather. If storms occur, they may include extreme wind, cold temperatures and snow. Patches of ice may form in some locations.
November through March: Snow accumulates. By March it may be up to several meters deep. Winter mountaineering equipment and skills are necessary for safe travel.
April through June: Snowpack is receding. Winter mountaineering equipment and skills are necessary for safe travel.