The trail meanders up a canyon and then past a beautiful fish-filled lake called Timberline Lake. That morning the fish were literally jumping out of the water all around the lake.
There’s no camping there, so it’s super clean and beautiful. As you continue towards Guitar Lake, you realize you are now truly at the base of the Eastern Sierra with Mt. Whitney looming over you – what a sight!
Guitar Lake was rumored to sometimes be a bit ‘ghetto’, but we thought it was very clean and nice. We had also heard that the little tarn above the lake was a good place to camp, with great views of Guitar Lake, Mt. Hitchcock, Whitney, Mt. Hale etc. And those facts were correct – that little tarn was an awesome place to spend the day.
We got the sweet spot right in front overlooking Guitar Lake, with the little stream that runs out of the tarn and down giving us a super fresh water source. We did laundry, lounged around on the rocks, chatted with hikers going up and down Mt. Whitney, and just had an amazing day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. doing nothing but relaxing at 11,600 feet – the byproduct of which was a nice little acclimation period at our highest altitude yet! That extra day would most certainly make our assault on Mt. Whitney the next day easier.
We met a great military vet and professor from Branson, MO who was on the PCT. We met a retired man in his 70s who remembered camping at that very same tarn with him family 50 years earlier! We helped him re-create the photo he still has of his mom there. We met people going up and down – giving us their round trip times and words of encouragement for the next day. We were invaded by three different groups of boy scouts who all intended to get up before sunrise and try for the summit early.
If you decide to hike the HST (or the JMT for that matter), I highly recommend a long day at the tarn above Guitar Lake – just a great place to camp and enjoy your last day in Sequoia National Park.
High Sierra Trail: Crabtree Meadow to Guitar Lake
Trail Map & Elevation Profile
- Continue to Day 7 on the High Sierra Trail, hiking from Crabtree Meadow to Guitar Lake.
- Go back to Day 5 on the High Sierra Trail.
- New to the High Sierra Trail? Get the big picture with our HST overview.
- Got questions about the High Sierra Trail? Join our HST discussion forum.
Daniel Martinez says
Thank you for sharing your hike fellow Claremontian. Very useful! Cheers. Daniel
john p keating says
thanks for such an informative report of the HST. i’m going to do it this summer. I’ve done the JMT and want more Sierra experiences.
There seems to be a problem with the mileage marking on the map on this page. It is showing duplicates of each mileage marker at different distances. Not sure what is correct here.
Jeff Hester says
Steve, the hike was only 3.3 miles total for this day, so the grid is showing 1/2 mile increments. Looks like a bug with our mapping software, but if you think of the first “1 mile” mark as 1/2 mile, and so on, it adds up to roughly 3.3 miles.
Me and the wife are driving from FL to Sequoia National Forest to do this hike. We’re hoping to start in the middle of August. We’re going to be doing a round trip hike, since there isn’t a simple solution to our transportation issues.
I’ve been to the top of MT Whitney twice. Both times out of Lone Pine. Once right after 9/11.
I was wondering if there might be another solution to the car issue. We called the bus service that runs on the 395. They quoted $800 to bring us back to our car. That’s when we decided to do a round trip on the same trail.
Also was looking into any outfitters that does this trail. Any suggestions?
Thought about abandoning this hike from the western side of the MT. Any suggestions on alternative hikes to Whitney that solves the transportation issues?
Cilla & Michael
W McGrath says
I had a remarkable 3 day trip a few years ago that I thought I’d share with anyone wanting to do Mt. Whitney. I went in over Kearsarge Pass which is out of Independence, and up Onion Valley. Once over Kearsarge you drop down to the JMT and head south. One reason for going this way is it was much easier to get a permit for Kearsarge Pass, then for Mt. Whitney. Heading south on the JMT takes you up to Forrester Pass, another awesome mountain pass that should be on everyone’s bucket list. I remember seeing the junction for the HST on day two, and spent the night just south of there. From there it’s on to Guitar Lake and up Mt. Whitney. I was 67 when I did this hike, I’m in pretty decent shape and didn’t have any problems at all. The hike up to Whitney from Guitar Lake in incredible.