The pinnacle of our backpacking trips, Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the continental United States at 14,505 feet. This mule-supported trip includes long days and high mileage at altitude, but the mules carry most of your weight, making the trip more feasible.

This route from Cottonwood crosses over the Sierra Crest at Cottonwood Pass, eventually drops west to the Kern River, and then loops east to Guitar Lake below the western slopes of the peak. We like this route for a number of reasons:

  • It is beautiful with high alpine lakes and expansive views. This is a wonderful backpacking trip with Mt. Whitney’s summit as a bonus!
  • There are far fewer people than on the regular Whitney Trail.
  • We utilize the services of Cottonwood Pack Station to carry equipment while we hike with a day pack.


Price includes guiding, pack stock support, permits, group gear, tents, kitchen gear, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. We provide delicious healthy meals – our guides are great backcountry chefs! No pre-packaged dehydrated meals, we promise!


You should be able to hike, with a day pack, up to thirteen miles a day with 3,000 feet or more in elevation gain. While we use mules to carry the loads, the distances to be covered each day are significant. Review our Fitness, Training, and Acclimatization Tips in the “Resources” tab.


Day Out Destination Mileage Elevation Gain
Day 1 Chicken Springs Lake 5.3 miles 1405
Day 2 Rock Creek Crossing 10.5 miles 620
Day 3 Guitar Lake 10.3 miles 2985
Day 4 Mount Whitney then back to Crabtree Meadows 14.4 miles 3405
Day 5 Rock Creek Lake 11.3 miles 2020
Day 6 back to pack station 11.4 miles 1435

Getting to the top of Whitney: 32.2 miles

Total 63.2 miles Total Elevation Gain 11,870