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Is your hiking fun stuck in a rut? A little lackadaisical? Need some pep in your step? Then consider doing some Peak Bagging in the High Sierra! Here’s a fun list of peak bagging opportunities for the first timer in the High Sierra.   

What’s Peak Bagging?

The idea is simple… hikers, climbers, or mountaineers attempt to reach a collection of summits published on a list. Usually, these peak bagging lists are for the experienced outdoorsperson. So we thought, why not create a High Sierra Peak Bagging list that any reasonably fit person can enjoy.

Castle Peak

6 miles roundtrip; 1,811’ elevation gain

Castle Peak Bagging Sierra Nevada Truckee
Photo by: Paul Hamill ; Image appears courtesy: Truckee Chamber Of Commerce

The throat of an ancient volcano, this summit is one of the easier climbs in the High Sierra and that helps with its popularity. At only 6 miles round trip, this is a quick hike but adds some challenge the last mile or so to get to the top. It features an amazing display of wildflowers and provides great views of the northern Tahoe area and Sierra crest. It’s a great option in the fall or late spring after the snow melts. And then finish it all off by exploring the historic town of Truckee!

White Mountain

14 miles roundtrip; 2,647’ elevation gain

White Mountain
Image appears courtesy: Visit Bishop

For those with aspirations of climbing big hulking peaks like Mt. Whitney, there’s no better one out there to start with then White Mountain. Approximately 50 miles from Bishop, it’s considered one of the “easiest” 14ers to hike in the lower 48, and therefore a great choice for the 1st timer. Why? Well, you can do the hike within a day and don’t need to backpack or camp overnight. With that said, the trailhead starts at 12,000’ and still has an elevation gain of over 2,500 FEET! Simply put, it’s a challenge any person can be proud of. It’s no wonder it’s considered one of the 8 best hikes near Bishop.

Lookout Peak

10.8 miles roundtrip; 3,800′ elevation gain

Lookout Peak View Kings Canyon
Image appears courtesy: Visit Visalia

Long before the main road into Kings Canyon was opened, visitors would explore this area via the old Shepherd’s road now named after Don Cecil, a pioneering shepherd that lived in the area. Although this journey has a bigger elevation gain compared to White Mountain, the height of this summit is far lower (8,531′ above sea level). But the trek is well worth it! From the top, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the deepest canyon in the United States – Kings Canyon (take that Grand Canyon!) – similar to the view you get from Glacier Point but without the people. 

This list isn’t focused on showcasing the toughest or most grueling peak bagging opportunities in the Sierra Nevada. Instead, it’s to serve as inspiration to challenge yourself even if you’re a first timer. Remember to know your limits and check in with the rangers before attempting to climb these peaks.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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