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Sequoia National Park, California, United States

The High Sierra Trail

Crossing the Sierra Nevada in 70 Miles

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 (33 votes, 12 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 65 miles / 105 km
Duration: Multiple days
 
Overview: The High Sierra Trail runs approximately 70 miles from its western end at Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park to Whitney Portal on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. The trail passes through breathtakingly scenic terrain that varies from wide sweeping vistas of peaky mountains and high alpine lakes to shaded forests and rushing rivers. As the trail wanders up and over ridges and through valleys, there are no roads or signs of civilization - one must carry everything they need for the hike on his or her back.

The trail wiggles up and over the Great Western Divide and descends as low as 6800 feet in Kern Canyon before climbing up to its high point at the summit of Mount Whitney (14,508 ft by the latest measurements).

The High Sierra Trail takes approximately a week to hike from end to end (not including shuttle time), so this guide is broken down into seven segments. While seven days is a normal amount of time to hike the HST, a large portion of the Trail is spent above 10,000 feet with steep climbs and descents, so when planning this trip make sure to take your backpacking experience and fitness level into account. Possible camp locations throughout each segment are described in each of the guides so you can plan accordingly.

Snow covers the trail most of the year, and on an average year one can expect the trail to be clear of snow from mid-July through September. As always, conditions vary from year to year so it is wise to research current conditions and the forecast before heading out - it can snow every month of the year in the Sierra!


Tips: Shuttling
Perhaps the biggest headache for HST hikers is the shuttle. There are no roads that cross the Sierra through here and the drive time between the two trailheads is significant, approximately 7 hours without stops. People arrange shuttles with paid services ($$$), have good friends drop them off, stage cars, switch keys with hikers going the other direction, or hitch. Figure out what works best for you, but make sure to include the shuttling time in your planning - it can easily eat up 2-3 days.

Permits
Permits are required for the High Sierra Trail. Mount Whitney's permit system is extraordinarily complicated; this is just one of many reasons to start at the West end of the HST where the permit situation is much clearer and easier to navigate. See the provided links for more information about obtaining your permit.

Regulations on the following vary throughout the year - it is your responsibility to know the current status when hiking the trail:

Bears
There are bears on the trail and proper food protection is required by law.

Campfires
Campfires are allowed on certain parts of the trail, but this can be restricted at any time depending on conditions. Inquire about it when picking up your permit.

Fishing
There are some excellent fishing opportunities on the High Sierra Trail. Pack your pole, your permit, and check the regulations before heading out.

Campsites
Camp at least 100 ft from water when terrain permits.
Guides in this Bundle
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 1 of 7
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 1 of 7
Sequoia National Park, California, United States
 
Moderate: 8.4 miles, Full day
Crescent Meadow/Wolverton to 9-Mile Creek
map
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 2 of 7
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 2 of 7
Sequoia National Park, California, United States
 
Difficult: 9.8 miles, Full day
9-Mile Creek to Precipice Lake
map
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 3 of 7
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 3 of 7
Sequoia National Park, California, United States
Difficult: 9.8 miles, Full day
Precipice Lake to Moraine Lake
map
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 4 of 7
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 4 of 7
Sequoia National Park, California, United States
 
Difficult: 6.9 miles, Full day
Moraine Lake to Kern Hot Spring
map
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 5 of 7
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 5 of 7
Sequoia National Park, California, United States
Difficult: 9.6 miles, Full day
Kern Hot Spring to Upper Kern Canyon
map
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 6 of 7
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 6 of 7
Sequoia National Park, California, United States
Difficult: 10.2 miles, Full day
Upper Kern Canyon to Guitar Lake
map
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 7 of 7
The High Sierra Trail: Segment 7 of 7
Sequoia National Park, California, United States
 
Difficult: 14.3 miles, Full day
Guitar Lake to Mount Whitney Summit and the descent to Whitney Portal
map

Pictures in this guide taken by: calipidder
Reviews
planetwi36
Loved it...we had so much fun there

by planetwi36 on Oct 19, 2014
inqueba
had wonderful memories there

by inqueba on Jul 17, 2014
hairtransplant
blasting time spent. ... it was my friends bday... had a lot of fun
Visited on Nov 01, 2006

by hairtransplant on Jul 17, 2014
centrums
For sure I would like to back there
Visited on Apr 03, 2012

by centrums on May 13, 2014
rishubathla
its so pretty...the view is awsum
Visited on Feb 06, 2014

by rishubathla on Feb 06, 2014
RichardBaker
Unforgettable I really enjoyed this gorgeous destination. Thanks
Visited on Jun 09, 1993

by RichardBaker on Jan 27, 2014
laughdon4
The place is simply beautiful. Its an experience of a life time.
Visited on Mar 03, 2008

by laughdon4 on Dec 29, 2013
saha
cool and beautiful
I love it


by saha on Dec 18, 2013
alanbednarz
Amazing place. Must be back there soon.
Visited on Aug 17, 2012

by alanbednarz on Oct 22, 2013
Hoangmaicorp
ohh God..look like heaven...
i hope can be one time coming here

Thanks

Visited on Jan 31, 2013

by Hoangmaicorp on Jan 31, 2013
Machu_Picchu
Work began on the High Sierra Trail in 1928 and it was the first Sierra trail built solely for recreational purposes.
http://www.traveltomachupicchu.org

Visited on Jul 06, 2012

by Machu_Picchu on Sep 19, 2012
Touchstone
Awesome job on the trip report/guide. I'll take a certain amount of satisfaction in the knowledge that we made it all the way to Bearpaw Meadow on day 1 :) Hopefully the rest of this amazing hike can get on my to do list someday.

by Touchstone on Jul 05, 2010

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About the Author

calipidder
calipidder
19 guides
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I work and play in California and I'm happiest with a pack on my back and many miles under my feet in...

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