This route includes the Pacific Crest Trail, the John Muir Trail, and Mt. Whitney! We start at the Cottonwood Pass trailhead and finish at the Shepard pass trailhead. We will pick you up at the end of the trip an bring you back to your vehicles.
Price includes guiding, permits, tents, kitchen gear, shuttles, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and a resupply. Shuttle is included in your trip price and is organized by SMC. Our meals are healthy and prepared by your guide before the trip. We use good quality dehydrated ingredients to make a variety of delicious, protein-packed meals. We rarely serve pre-packaged dehydrated meals.
Prior day hiking experience is required. No prior overnight experience is required but you need to be in good physical condition, able to walk 13 miles, and gain up to 3,000 feet daily while carrying a multi-day backpack.
Acclimatization & Physical Training
For proper acclimatization, we suggest spending at least one night at a moderate altitude, higher than 8,000 feet, just prior to the start of the journey. See our detailed tips on acclimatizing an physical training in the “Resources” tab.
||Chicken Springs Lake
||Rock Creek Crossing
||Mount Whitney then back to Guitar Lake
||To Shepherd Trailhead
We meet early in the morning at the Cottonwood Pass Trailhead, do introductions, divide up group gear and food, do a full pack check and then hike from the trailhead up and over Cottonwood Pass and descend a little over about a half mile to Chicken Springs Lake, our first night’s camp. There will be plenty of time in camp to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
We leave camp and, after a short initial climb, much of the day is relatively flat or downhill. We contour above Big Whitney Meadow with views towards the Kaweah Range. After entering Sequoia Kings National Park, we continue to the lower crossing of Rock Creek.
Our day starts with a climb over Guyot Pass and into the wide open spaces of Guyot Flat. Staying near tree line, we climb and contour around into Crabtree Meadows. We now turn towards Mt. Whitney and steadily climb to camp overlooking Guitar Lake (11,460’).
We allow all day for the ascent to the summit and the return to camp. Today we ditch the big packs and travel with a light day pack leaving camp set up for our return.There are numerous switchbacks up to Trail Crest (13,550’), where we meet others coming up the east side trail. The summit comes into view but the thin air limits our ability to move speedily. With slow but steadily progress, before long we will be on top and enjoying the views in all directions. After summit photos and maybe even relaxing on top on huge flat rock slabs, we retrace our steps down the mountain to Guitar Lake.
Heading north we follow the JMT over several small passes past Wallace and Wright Lakes, curve around Tawney Point and camp in Tyndall Creek for the night.
This is a big day so be prepared for an early start. We follow up Tyndall Creek into its headwaters high above tree line and then gain Shepherd Pass at 12,000 feet. The views to the Owens Valley far below are stunning as we start our long descent of 6,200 feet to the trailhead. Here we have a shuttle arranged to take you back to the vehicles at Cottonwood.
★ Please Read before you go ★
We feel the following information is essential... (links open as PDF in new window)
- Fitness, Training and Acclimatization Tips
- Leave No Trace
Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.