Inyo National Forest: Whitney Portal to Mount Whitney (2 days / 21 miles)

Ah, Mount Whitney. It's one of the most famous - and most sought after - hiking trails in the United States. Mount Whitney is the tallest peak in the Lower 48, standing at 14,505 feet. After multiple unsuccessful attempts landing a permit, in 2023 my group got an overnight permit for a Saturday at the end of August.

We car camped at Horseshoe Meadows (10,000 ft) the night before, then camped at Trail Camp (12,000 ft) on Saturday. We summited on Sunday morning and then made it all the way back to the car Sunday evening. This trip was equally incredible as it was challenging (the definition of Type 2 fun).

Trip Completed: August 2023

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Whitney Portal Trailhead

Ending Point: Whitney Portal Trailhead

Distance: 21 miles

Elevation Gain: ~7000ft

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Advanced

Location: Inyo National Forest, John Muir Wilderness

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: No guidebook used.

Map: AllTrails Mount Whitney Trail - I have AllTrails+ so I was able to download the map for offline use.

Permits & Reservations

Permits: Permits for Mount Whitney are issued through a lottery and it can be difficult to get one. According to the USDA, only 28% of permit applications are successful.

This page on the Inyo National Forest website has information on the permit process. Basically, there is a period starting in March when you can apply for a permit. In your application, you can choose up to 10 dates. Once the deadline closes, there is a lottery and it just comes down to luck. If you're chosen, you'll have until a certain date to accept the permit and pay the fee.

You need to print your permit and the trip leader needs to sign in. There is a deadline to print your permit - for overnight hikers, you need to print your permit before 12pm (noon) the day before your entry date. Carry your permit on you (a park ranger will check on the trail).

Outfitters & Shuttles

Shuttles: No shuttl...

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