The 5 areas within the Mt. Whitney District are Horseshoe Meadow at the summit; Independence; the Kern Plateau; Onion Valley; and the Whitney Portal. With 20+ trails crisscrossing over many miles, most intersecting, there are almost endless possibilities for hiking and backpacking, from easy gentle walks to hand-over-hand scrambling, and ice or rock climbing for those who are skilled and prepared for it.
One of the most strenuous trails is the Mt. Whitney trail, which crosses part of the Sierra Nevadas and connects with the John Muir Trail. This trail climbs more than 6000 feet and stretches 11 miles. While the lower portion is snow free from late June to mid-October, snow and ice fields can be found year-round above 10,000 feet to the summit. The trailhead can be found on Whitney Portal Road about 13 miles from Lone Pine. Parking is limited there, and a vault toilet and water are available. It's important to know that there is a heightened level of bear activity near this trailhead, so be aware.
A gentler trail is the Trail Pass which leads from the Mt Whitney Trail and connects with the long Pacific Crest Trail. The Trail Pass features many small streams and a ring of trees surrounding a grassy meadow filled with wildflowers in the spring and summer. The trailhead is located at the end of Horseshoe Meadow Road, about 24 miles from Lone Pine. The Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground is a pawrfect spot to overnight before heading back to Lone Pine. Note that permits are required for overnight stays in Inyo. At only 2 miles, with an elevation gain of only 500 feet, this trail is probably the easiest.
Most of the trails in Inyo - Mt Whitney are categorized as strenuous, steep, rugged and difficult to follow, but if you and your furry buddy are up to the challenge, you'll find quiet, solitude, pawsome scenery, lots of wildlife sightings and clean, fresh air and water.