This is a moderately challenging hike with phenomenally scenic rewards. This hike does not hold back. It starts delivering on the drive to the trailhead. No delayed gratification here. The hike to Lone Pine Lake is your chance to experience a short but special section of the Mount Whitney Trail, the route up the iconic mountain to the highest summit (14,505 feet) in the contiguous states. A few refreshing creek crossings, panoramic views of the granite kingdom, and a cornucopia of wildflowers highlight the 3 miles of mostly exposed switchbacks to the shores of this idyllic lake. Mount Whitney Trail to Lone Pine Lake is a portal into one of nature’s most sublime settings.
If the altitude does not take your breath away at 8,000 feet, the scenery in the shadow of this granite cathedral surely will. The trail starts with a brief, stiff uphill with the most shade you’ll experience until you reach the trail junction for Lone Pine Lake in 2.9 miles. The trail quickly mellows into moderate switchbacks. As you climb higher, the Owens Valley floor becomes more distant and you feel minuscule against the granite walls soaring up the canyon. The seasonal streams and the two tumbling creeks create enough moisture for lush ferns and myriad wildflower blooms, including purple lupine, white ranger buttons, and flaming Indian paintbrush.
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