"Trailhead to the Top of the Continental U.S." Whitney Portal by Hopkid

Whitney Portal Travel Guide: 22 reviews and 56 photos

Located 13 miles west of downtown Lone Pine at an elevation of 8,200 feet, Whitney Portal isn't really a town but the staging area for hikes that go up into the Eastern Sierra Nevada including the Mount Whitney Main Trail. Whitney Portal includes several parking areas, a campground, restrooms, trailheads, and the Whitney Portal store which has supplies and a grill that supposedly serves up some tasty burgers.

Mount Whitney's claim to fame is that at 14,491 feet, it is the tallest point in the continental United States. The nice thing about it is that it is very accessible due to a well-maintained hiking trail (thank you National Forest and National Park Service!) that takes the adventurer from the Portal 10.7 miles to the summit. However, because of this accessibilty and its reputation as the tallest peak in the continental U.S., it is a very popular hiking trail. In order ot limit the number of hikers/backpackers on the trail on any given day, the National Forest Service issues permits that are obtainable by entering a lottery each February. Check the General Tip on this process to get the scoop on how you might get one of these coveted permits.

We were asked to join a group by a friend who had a friend who had a single-day permit for 15 people. It was an offer we couldn't refuse. Ultimately we're glad we made the attempt, totally surprised that we actually made the summit, and somewhat delusional about whether doing it in a single day is complete madness. You can read the gory details of our day on the mountain in the travelogue.

Note on Things to Do tips: Hiking is the main activity here at Whitney Portal. My tips under Things to Do will focus on segments of the Mt. Whitney Main Trail from the Portal to the Summit. This will give those thinking about doing the hike some idea of what to expect. There is actual video footage of the trail available by checking this thread on the Whitney Portal Store Message Board

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Gateway to the eastern Sierra Nevada!
  • Cons:Didn't get to check out the store...
  • In a nutshell:If you want to go to Whitney, you gotta go thru the Portal!
  • Last visit to Whitney Portal: Aug 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 19, 2006
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Reviews (14)

Comments (13)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Jul 18, 2008 at 6:42 AM

    cool tips!

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2008 at 6:59 PM

    Awesome! I'm impressed that you took the grueling hike to the summit.

  • kevanrijn's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2007 at 7:30 AM

    Great tips, photos & travelogue! I started out to backpack it to the top back in October 1997, but the first night it was so cold I couldn't sleep and my water bottle froze solid (even though I had it in the sleeping bag with me). So I turned back...

  • Mar 9, 2007 at 2:50 AM

    I love rocks and I would like to go to the point you took on the photo! --> Whitney Trail - Trail Crest...amazing place:)

  • goingsolo's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2006 at 4:04 PM

    Congratulations! It amazed me, too, how long it seemed to take to get do much as a mile. Altitude will do that to you. A great accomplishment and a fantastic travelogue!

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2006 at 2:47 PM

    great tips and hike. well done...

  • bruingirl's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2006 at 2:23 PM

    Congratulations!!! You DID it!!! Mt. Rainier next, perhaps?? :) Good 'ol Whitney.....I may check out the Mountaineers Route next time.

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Aug 19, 2006 at 8:00 AM

    Anotehr important point about the Whitney Portal store is the great shirts you can buy ;-] Also, as hard as permits are for the trail, there are only 15 a day for the Mountaineers Route. And Lake Meysan is a good way to spend a day before climbing.

  • bugalugs's Profile Photo
    Aug 19, 2006 at 7:59 AM

    what did you do wrong Andy to deserve such a punishment as this hike - lol, well done really you both did great, I would still be sitting in the car with my coffee or maybe something stronger - lol

  • travelfrosch's Profile Photo
    Aug 18, 2006 at 3:27 PM

    An amazing and scenic hike! I can see how the hiking poles came in handy... Sara's reaction was, "Don't you DARE take me on a 20 hour hike!" :) Cheers, Mark

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