Monarch Lakes Trail

HARD 26 reviews
#25 of 86 trails in

Monarch Lakes Trail is a 8.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Three Rivers, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October.

8.4 miles
2,650 feet
Out & Back




nature trips





wild flowers


no dogs

A day hike from Mineral King Valley to Monarch Lakes and back. The hike from Mineral King to Monarch Lakes is 4.2 miles one way with an elevation gain of about 2500ft.The hike starts at an elevation of 8000 and reaches 10400ft at Lower Monarch Lake. This is a moderately difficult hike and is best done as a day hike. This seems to be a popular route for backpackers who go past the sawtooth pass to columbine lakes. The track shows the hike up to the lakes. Follow the same route back to the parking lot.

1 month ago

NPS website is not lying when they said "start early because it's a west-facing slope". The first mile was incredibly hot and sunny in the afternoon. After the first mile, it gets much easier. it took me 3pm-10pm including lots of picture-taking and slow progress on the way up.

Saw many marmots and grouse. If you hear a deep "whoop whoop whoop whoop", that's the male grouse's mating call.

This year, going earlier in the season would've meant fewer mosquitoes, less heat, and less crowds if you're also visiting Lodgepole. Late May-early june would be ideal this year. June in years when there's heavier snowfall.

The views were pretty good but I wish I had hiked Eagle Lake instead, considering I started late.

7 months ago

Beautiful hike, be prepared to cross snow fields early in the season before reaching the lower lake.

9 months ago

This was a very beautiful trail with lots of views, water, waterfalls and wild flowers everywhere!! It was difficult and took us about 6 hrs to complete. We did not see another human after the trail split off from the monarch trail. I would do this again maybe ad a backpacking trip.

10 months ago

A great hike for the eager and willing. I found relief finally reaching Lower Monarch after steadily battling the uphill trek. Bring a camera! There are breathtaking views all around. I hiked in on Friday and exited on Monday and felt well rested having done Sawtooth Peak in this trip as well.

11 months ago

Best hike I've ever done! Make sure to look around the left side of the lake for the trail up to the upper lake! The view is breathtaking!

Monday, August 07, 2017

This is in my top 3. Extremely diverse, stunning and very rewarding. If you're going in mid summer make sure to bring a tarp for Marmot guarding your car. Have fun!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A great trail with moderate difficulty and amazing scenery. I did this as part of a larger 40 mile backpacking loop and loved. Here is the trip report with pictures:

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Beautiful hike but the last part of the trail is still covered in snow. At the bare minimum bring trekking poles with snow baskets if you're planning on getting to the lakes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Backpacked/hiked in from trailhead. First mile is most challenging with fairly steep steps, but levels out well for the rest of the hike. Excellent views of Mineral King Valley and surroundings. Nice approach to Sawtooth Peak and pass. Clear Lakes and many small trout. Wilderness Crew recently rebuilt the pit toilet at Lower Monarch, Thanks! Fall colors in the Valley are Gorgeous!

Monday, August 15, 2016

One of my favorite trips of all time. Swimming in the lake was so refreshing.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fantastic trail. If you're an altitude addict like myself the 11k elevation is amazing. This Alpine trail is beautiful with meadows and two insanely clear lakes. If you're in good shape go tackle it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Backpacked/camped here mid-July. Tons of biting flies and mosquitoes from bottom to top, but the hike itself is great. Lots of exposure might not make it ideal for backpackers/hikers afraid of heights, but this is clearly an alpine hike, so caveat emptor! The lakes are lovely and great for a refreshing dip on a hot day.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Great hike with good variety of terrain features. You can't go wrong in the Mineral King Valley.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Did this on my Mineral Kings trip. Killer lake views

10 months ago

10 months ago

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday, September 09, 2016

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016