If you learned anything from the story of Clarence King, it's to use a reliable map if you're going to climb Mount Whitney. Luckily, we now have established trails to the top, unlike in King's day. You actually have the option of many different routes, and a good map will help you choose which one you'd like to take.
Thanks to local fundraising efforts, the first trail up the mountain was forged in 1904. Unfortunately, the trail's first fatality occurred just days after it opened. Byrd Surby was eating lunch after scaling the mountain and was struck by lighting. This resulted in plans to build a hut atop Mount Whitney, completed in 1908 and using wood hauled up by mule [source: LonePineChamber].
You can find free, helpful maps online from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Web site. These provide a good outline for you to get an idea of what the trails look like. But if you want more detailed maps to have with you while you're on your trip, it would be better to purchase them online from the National Forest Store or Sequoiahistory.org.
Be aware that permits are required year-round for both day trips and overnight trips to hike Mount Whitney. During the peak season of May through October, hiking the mountain is so popular that authorities have enforced a quota to limit the number of hikers. A lottery is held several months in advance for these permits. So, plan early if you want to hike during the peak season.
What are some of the more popular hiking routes near Mount Whitney?