Mineral King to Little Five Lakes Trail is a 28.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Sequoia National Park, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.
Incredible journey and well worth the effort. We did the trail in a clockwise direction, which is definitely the way to go only because of the difficulty of climbing Sawtooth Pass from the front side. Scree city! Otherwise the views are incredible from Sawtooth and Black Rock pass, where you can see Mt Whitney! It's one of the few places you can see Whitney from the west. Alpine lakes are incredible (Columbine, Monarch and any of the Big Lakes) and there are plenty of water sources everywhere from lakes to creeks.
Really great trail! My brother and I did the loop clockwise and it was quite challenging going over the ridge but well worth it! Plenty of water sources throughout the trail which made it easier to hike without carrying a lot of water weight.
We hiked this the opposite way of most, going over Sawtooth pass. While doing this with full weighted packs on day 1 can be daunting, we really felt that the views were spectacular throughout. And I like empty trails, so I tend to choose the less popular routes.
Mind your pace. Two other 20-30 something guys paced faster than us, then pooped out on Sawtooth and wound up turning around the next day instead of finishing the 4 day hike as planned. Moral: don't blow your load and ruin the trip.
Every day had another amazing meadow or lake, and I will definitely come back to Mineral King for more (and longer) hikes.
We traveled up to Eagle Lake and it was fantastic! Panoramic views in every direction. The hike is not for the faint of heart. This is a serious trail and though you are only ascending about 2300 plus feet, it feels like more. The drive in to Eagle Lake-Mosquito Lake trail head is about 23 miles on a one lane road from Three Rivers. You are doing most of your ascending at this point in the car. This does not give your body time to acclimate to the altitude. Eagle Lake sits at 10008 feet. It is beautiful but rest and pace yourself. Also check the weather. At that altitude, the weather can change on a dime. We got about an inch of snow the following morning in about 45 minutes. Well worth the trip!
Awesome hike. Did the same loop as Dan S (see his Tracks) but in reverse. Highlights:
Camping at Monarch Lakes (if you're coming from Sawtooth pass, make sure you go to the second of the lakes) is breathtaking. You're in a bowl surrounded by peaks next to a lake and a waterfall. The 3-walled outhouse provides one of the best toilet views you'll ever see. Go tentless and sleep under the stars if warm enough.
Avoid camping at pinto lake if possible. Kind of a bog with mosquitos - we opted to camp at the intersection of timber gap creek and cliff creek instead, even though it was less convenient distance-wise, and were very glad we did. We found a nice campsite right along the rushing river.
We did this very early in the season. Recommend going a bit later to avoid snow, as that made some parts very tough - especially sawtooth pass descent (or ascent if you do the reverse of what we did), which makes the trail impossible to follow - so you're left scurrying over rocks and it's fairly challenging, given the lack of a trail. Though I'd imagine this would still be pretty challenging even without as much snow.
Went in late Sept. Was cold and got snowed on. Lucky for us not to bad just a couple inches. When we came out we learned that several hikers got trapped on Whitney from the same snow.
A couple things to note:
$20 per car to drive into the park now. $12 for a trailhead campsite.
Route is just a nice as the last visit six years ago. We did Timber gap to Pinto lake, Blackrock pass to upper big five, columbine to sawtooth pass and out. 9 trout of Big Five lake, and spotted a bear above Pinto.
Just got back from this loop. Absolutely beautiful scenery, comfortable hiking weather. Black Rock Pass, my own personal Everest, was the most strenuous, albeit most rewarding part of the trip. Couldn't have asked for a more delightful week. The trout are delicious out there.
I did this hike at 15 now bear in mind I climbed Mt. Whitney in the fall at 13! We took the Black Rock Pass and did a loop over to Sawtooth pass. This is a demanding + hike so be prepared for anything including cold weather even in the middle of summer.