Inyo National Forest - Mt. Whitney Ranger District

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Trail Distance: 65 miles
Time Estimate: 1 hr+
Elevation Gain: 6000 feet
Leash Rule: On Leash
Difficulty: Hard
Parking: Free
Route Type: Out-and-back
Restroom: Yes
Description
The Inyo National Forest is divided into 4 districts, one of them being the Mt. Whitney District, which includes the highest point in the contiguous US at its namesake, Mt. Whitney. Rising to more than 14,500 feet, the mountain is a popular challenge for those equipped for hiking through rough terrain and altitude sickness.


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.

Trail Features
Ice, Loose Terrain, Rocky, Steep Inclines, Forest, Lake, River, Desert, Diverse Landscape, Mountains, Grassland
Abundant Wildlife, Wildflowers, Scenic
Cautions & Considerations
Many trails within the Inyo National Forest - Mt. Whitney Ranger District are steep and rugged, requiring climbing skills and the ability to make progress across rock, snow and ice fields. Check in with the Ranger to be sure you are prepared for the trails adequately. While pets are welcome in Inyo National Forest overall, be sure to check with rangers and look for signage that may designate certain trails or areas that are pet-free.
Address
Hwy 395
Lone Pine, CA 93545
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours
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Address
Hwy 395
Lone Pine, CA 93545
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours