Walt’s Point

The mega-classic jump off point for epic XC flights. This is where hang and paraglider pilots come to fly the ‘big air’, and most of the stories and wild tales that have come out of this spot are true. Giant thermals, extreme turbulence, very high climb rates and max altitudes, long distance flights, this launch provides it all! On a decent day it’s common to fly the ultra-classic XC route from Walt’s to Bishop, a 60 mile (100 km) flight across the highest section of the Sierra Nevada.

Flying high and deep over the Sierra. Somewhere between Whitney and Bishop, amidst a sea of granite peaks-

high sierra paragliding

Walt’s was known as a hang glider launch originally, but over the years the PG pilots have come. It’s better suited to launching hang gliders from, rather than PG’s, as its a flat road cut that drops right off to a steep slope. Most pilots try to climb straight out from launch by heading directly to the house thermal, which is located in the rocky pass just to the right after launching.

Here is a shot looking down at the launch-

Walts launch

Getting to Launch- From Lone Pine, head west on Whitney Portal road. This road leaves from the center of ‘town’, at the only stoplight in the area. Head just over three miles towards Mt Whitney (west), then turn left (south) onto Horseshoe Meadows road. This road climbs gently for about six miles, then becomes quite steep and switchbacks up the east face of Wonoga Peak. At the top of the east face switchbacks, the road curves south and climbs into a deep long canyon for another few switchbacks. Launch is a huge flat turnout on the left, and has a giant rock with a ‘Walt’s Point’ plaque.

Launching from Walt’s Point-

walt's point


Most people try to fly north, and heading to Big Pine or Bishop is common. If you are feeling good, cross on over to the White Mountains somewhere between these two towns, and keep pushing north along the Whites. The hundred mile mark is close to the Nevada border. But if the SE wind is good, and the west winds aloft are not pushing you too hard, then you can stay on the Sierra and try to push on up to Mammoth.

Just a few miles north of launch, looking at Mt Whitney and the Sierra crest-

mt whitney paragliding


Looking down on the approach road. Launch is located all the way on the right-

horseshoe meadow


Looking down from launch. It’s a bit steeper than the pic seems-

Walts launch


Here are the bail out LZ’s if you don’t go XC. You can see the square patch with less bushes, right in the center of the pic. There is one more higher up the road to the right, before you head up the switchbacks. Wind streamers can often be found here-

walt's point LZ



Launch site: Walt’s Point

Aspect: East

Vertical descent: 5,300 ft to highway 395

Launch elevation: 9,175 ft.

Best for: PG, HG

Approach: paved road

Time to launch from the LZ: half hour

Glide ratio to primary LZ:

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