Hiking to Lone Pine Lake is the bottom portion of the Mount Whitney Portal Trail and as far as you can hike without a permit. Total hike is about 5.5 miles and around 4.5 hours with picture stops and snowball fights. With some tree cover, this section is mostly exposed to the sun and a good trail. The views of the Inyo Mountains, Owens Valley and the Alabama Hills open up as you gradually switchback up the trail. The only water crossing is just before you come to the John Muir Wilderness sign and the barely noticeable junction for the Mountaineering Route.
At about 2.5 miles is the junction to Lone Pine Lake, a place to fish for golden trout, and some folks camp here if taking two days to Trail Camp – said to be better than Outpost Camp. We hiked on a beautiful end of June day – it was around 80 degrees at the bottom, but the lake was nice and breezy with some snow patches up top. The boys enjoyed sliding down the snow and we explored around the lake. Beautiful views. Take water and sunscreen. My goal is to do the rest of this hike to the top some day – a total of 22 miles round trip.