Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
4,530.00 ft (1,380.74 m)
Trail type
17.20 mi (27.68 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Mount Whitney via Crabtree Meadow is a 16.8-mile out-and-back in the Sierra Nevada that climbs to the top of Mount Whitney (14,505’), the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. Several relatively accessible (Class 1) routes lead to Mount Whitney's scenic summit, so it's not surprising it's one of the most popular climbs in the area. A strict permitting system has been put in place for the Whitney Zone to try and limit human impact and permits are required for both day and overnight use (see below for more details). 

Mount Whitney is climbed via Crabtree Meadows on the John Muir Trail (JMT) and High Sierra Trail. It is also a very popular side trip / route for Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. 

The journey begins on the Lower to Upper Crabtree Meadow Trail, which is located at the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail. Following Mount Whitney Creek (usually a reliable source of water), the trail leads east towards Crabtree Meadow. 

For this out-and-back hike, Crabtree Meadow is a great place to set up basecamp. Camping is available near the Crabtree Ranger Station, which also has a bear box. 

After crossing Whitney Creek, you'll join the John Muir Trail (JMT). Continue east along the trail passing Timberline Lake and Guitar Lake (a good place to get water). You'll climb several switchbacks to reach Trail Crest, then take the spur trail to the summit. 

An incredible panorama awaits you at the top of Mount Whitney's barren, rocky landscape. At the summit, you'll also find a trail register and the historic Whitney Hut, built in 1909 as a meteorological observation station. 


During a storm, do not seek shelter in the hut. Due to its metal roof, the hut is unsafe during a lightning storm. Before making your ascent, check the weather forecast for the summit, as it is unsafe to be anywhere on the mountaintop during a storm. 

Mount Whitney's current weather forecast can be found at  


All overnight and day trips in the Mount Whitney Zone require a permit. Reservations for permits can be made online at, and they can be picked up in person at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine, California. 

  • Quota season (time when daily permit use is limited) runs from May 1 through November 1st. 

  • Reservations are made via lottery system. You can apply for the lottery between February 1 and March 15. 


  • The route described here restricts visitors from camping east of Crabtree Meadow. 


Mount Whitney Zone:

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round





Climb the tallest peak in contiguous U.S. Scenic views.


Crowded. Strict permit system.

Trailhead Elevation

10,333.00 ft (3,149.50 m)

Highest point

14,505.00 ft (4,421.12 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California


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