Ready to hike a California 14er? We’ve put together a list of the most accessible 14ers in California based on “hike-ability” and airport access to help you decide where to get started.

Before diving into the list, there are a few things you should know. The classes are based on the types of terrain and hiking; Class 1 being the easiest and Class 3 being the highest level of difficulty that we cover. More difficult terrains, like Class 3 and 4 routes, have more exposure requiring actual climbing, and easier terrains, have well-kept trails and less hand-foot climbing is required, according to 14ers.com class rating system.

The list is also based on airport proximity. The airport distances outlined in the list are approximate and based on Google-maps research of the popular trailhead-parking locations. The distance will also depend on which trail you take to the top. Most mountains have multiple route options.

Also, please note that the peaks are listed in order of most “hike-able” and accessible, but there is some wiggle room in the ranking based on opinions, so be sure to read the miscellaneous sections and do additional research on the peaks you are most interested in hiking.

10 Most Accessible 14ers in California (+Bonus Peak)

White Mountain - By Jonathan Lamb-Own Work, CC BY 3

White Mountain - By Jonathan Lamb-Own Work, CC BY 3

1.     White Mountain (South Face)

a.     Class: 1

b.     Height: 14,246’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 58 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 5 hours, 27 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Many experienced hikers recommend the South Face trail to beginners. It’s seven miles of well-kept trail and starts at 12,000-feet, so the trailhead begins fairly high up leaving hikers a shorter distance to the summit. Fun fact: Unicyclists have summited the South Face trail … on their unicycles.

 

Mount Langley-Tim W. Ryan - Own Work

Mount Langley-Tim W. Ryan - Own Work

2.     Mt. Langley

a.     Class: 1

b.     Height: 14,026’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 2 hours, 22 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 4 hours, 19 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Langley’s Army Pass is considered one of the easiest 14er-routes in California. Summit Post calls it one of the “most desert-like” 14ers in the Sierra Nevada range.

 

3.     Mt. Whitney

a.     Class: 1

b.     Height: 14,497’ (14,505’)

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 57 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 3 hours, 54 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: While this mountain is a Class 1, it’s also the tallest mountain in California, and opinions on its accessibility differ.  Some hikers say it’s a long, difficult hike, and others say it’s not too bad with a very "hike-able” terrain and time. DayHiker puts the clock anywhere from 5-18 hours depending on hikers’ fitness and experience.

Another interesting fact about Whitney: depending on the time of year you hike, wilderness permits are required, according to the USDA Forest Service. Plus, if you make it a multi-day backpacking venture, you will have the exciting opportunity to experience the “Wag Bag,” a sack for your excrement. Basically, as long as you plan ahead and know your limits, you can conquer this mountain.

 

4.     Split Mountain

a.     Class: 2

b.     Height: 14,058’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From LAX: 3 hours, 12 minutes

                                             ii.     From Mammoth Lakes: 3 hours, 42 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Split Mountain acquired its name because it consists of two summits. The northern summit is the tallest. Also, the actual hike is considered fairly easy; however, the difficulty comes when trying to reach the trailhead. Depending on weather, 4-wheel-drive may be required. Permits are required for overnight trips, but not for day hikes.

 

5.     Mt. Sill

a.     Class: 2

b.     Height: 14,153’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 21 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 4 hours, 33 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Mt. Sill is often recognized as the thumb-shaped peak. There are several routes available on this mountain. Find out more about the 10 established trails at Summit Post.

 

6.     Mt. Muir

a.     Class: 3

b.     Height: 14,012’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 38 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 3 hours, 30 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Often overlooked by its well-known big brother, Muir is nestled fairly close to the famous Mt. Whitney. The Muir trail starts at the same trailhead as Mt. Whitney.

 

7.     Middle Palisade

a.     Class: 3

b.     Height: 14,012’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 11 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 4 hours, 20 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: May to October is usually the preferred climbing months. You want to check the weather to make sure that you don’t run into a lot of snow, unless you are looking to climb in snow and have the gear for it.

 

8.     Mt. Tyndall

a.     Class: 3

b.     Height: 14,018’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 43 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 4 hours, 6 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Late and early July is the recommended climbing time-frame.

 

9.     Mt. Russell

a.     Class: 3

b.     Height: 14,088’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 38 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 3 hours, 30 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Another trail that starts at the Mt. Whitney trailhead on Whitney Portal Road.

 

10.  Mt. Williamson

a.     Class: 3

b.     Height: 14,375’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Mammoth Lakes: 1 hour, 41 minutes

                                             ii.     From LAX: 4 hours, 6 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Williamson is the tallest of the Class 3 group, and it starts at the Shepherd Pass Trailhead.

 

BONUS

Mt.Shasta Aerial - By Ewen Denney - Own Work

Mt.Shasta Aerial - By Ewen Denney - Own Work

1.     Mt. Shasta

a.     Class: 4

b.     Height: 14,162’

c.     Airport Distance:

                                               i.     From Sacramento International Airport: 3 hours,  13 minutes

                                             ii.     From San Francisco International Airport: 4 hours, 41 minutes

d.     Miscellaneous: Mt. Shasta is the shortest Class-4 mountain in California. It’s the only California 14er that is not located in the Sierra Nevada range. It’s located further north in the Cascade range.

Whichever 14er you choose, always prepare properly. Be sure to have these 5 Must-Have Supplies For Any Hike when you hit the trail. It's also important to research the route to see if there are any other supplies you'll need, like snowshoes or bear spray. For more information on all the peaks listed, check out Summit Post's 14er guides. And most of all, enjoy the adventure!

By Mackenzie Foster


Mackenzie is a writer who loves to travel, be outdoors, find adventures, meet new people, hangout with old ones, ponder truth, and enjoy just about anything else that involves truly sucking the marrow out of life. Whether it's hiking a 14,000-ft mountain or traveling around the U.S. living out of her SUV, she loves to explore. Check out her blog at bandanabow.com.