#GetOutThere Guide: White Mountain

Back in August, we chatted with MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B. She gave us some awesome tips in Hike like a Girl, an intro for newbie hikers.

This mermaid and outdoor enthusiast is hard to keep up with. Since then, Ashley has travelled to French Polynesia, skied fresh powder in Lake Tahoe and hiked up White Mountain, California – a 14er (over 14,000 feet in elevation) and the spotlight for this week’s blog.

If you are in hiking shape and ready to tackle a challenge, read on and #GetOutThere.  BUT, if you are just starting out or need to refresh the basics, have another look at Hike Like a Girl, and work your way up to this challenge by doing shorter, less ambitious hikes.


MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.


Hiking Guide – White Mountain Peak

White Mountain Peak is located northeast of the city of Bishop, California.  This peak is the third highest  in California and the highest peak outside of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is part of the Inyo-White Mountains, within close proximity to Mount Whitney Peak.  Many hikers choose to hike White Mountain Peak before attempting Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in California.


Photo by MI OLA

The Trail

This trail is a gradual incline hike, with an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet.  This is ideal for any hiker hoping to condition for other 14ers.  The entirety of the hike is in the direct sun, so no shade –  you are hiking well above the tree line.  The trail is well marked and may have heavy foot traffic depending on when you choose to hike (weekends, holidays, etc.).

Pace yourself! The final few miles of this hike are perhaps the most difficult. The last few to the summit, consist of steep switchbacks.  This will be strenuous due to the altitude.  Stay hydrated, and take breaks when necessary.

The trailhead for this route starts at the Barcroft gate on White Mountain Road. A few miles beyond the gate are the research and observation station.  This is your 2-mile marker. From here is it approximately 5 miles to the summit.

The route will take you through parts of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.  White Mountain Summit is approximately 14,246 feet in elevation. For this hike, you are able to begin your ascent at 12,000 feet elevation.  This factor makes it the easiest route to the summit of any California “14er”.  The total distance for this hike is approximately 14 miles. Although it is suggested that you have a 4WD vehicle, it’s not necessary.

Camping & Permits
You do not need to obtain a permit for this hike or for camping overnight at the trailhead.  Note: you are not permitted to camp in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.  Camping must be near the gate for the trailhead.  Here you will find a bathroom and places to pitch tents.


MI OLA Brand Ambassador Ashley B.

When to hike

Depending on the weather, the optimal time to hike White Mountain Peak is June-October.  Because it is possible to camp overnight at the trailhead, a good idea is to do so the night before your hike.  This will allow your body to acclimatize to the higher elevation and altitude.

Be sure to start your climb early. You’ll get cooler morning temperatures for hiking. An early start also gives you enough time to summit and return. To check the most current and up to date weather conditions, click here.

What to Bring


Photo by MI OLA

  1. WATER!  There are no water stations or water sources for the entirety of this hike.  You must be sure to pack enough water with you. Having to pack water will add weight to your backpack, but it is the most important item to have.   I would recommend at least 1 gallon per person. Sounds rough, but it is always better to have more water than what you need than to not have enough.
  2. Headlamp: I like most of us, anticipated descending White Mountain Peak well before nightfall.  I was wrong!  It is crucial to have a light source for this hike as you never know when you may need it.
  3.  Food: You must bring some snacks to fuel your body for this strenuous hike.  Protein/Granola bars: These are important sources for energy.  They are also lightweight and will not add a lot of gravity to your pack.
  4. First aid supplies: Painkillers / aspirin, band aids, disinfecting wipes, moleskin, and medical tape are good items to have with you on any hike.
  5. Lightweight jacket: Be prepared for various weather conditions.  As your climb in elevation, the temperatures will dramatically change. Although the hike itself may be hot, the summit is much cooler and often windy.

MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.


After hiking

After hiking be sure to stretch, hydrate, and eat a meal consisting of clean foods. Relax and enjoy a beautiful sunset near the trailhead!  There are spectacular views from this location. You may also wish to explore the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, where you will find the Pinus longaeva, the longest-lived life form on Earth!!!


Pinus longaeva by Mark David

I recommend camping another night if possible.  The stars and Milky Way add to the unsurpassed beauty of this mountain range.


MI OLA Ambassador Ashley B.