Monarch Lakes Trail

HARD 18 reviews
#23 of 83 trails in

Monarch Lakes Trail is a 8.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sequoia National Park, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and nature trips and is best used from July until October.

8.9 miles
2893 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.

7 days ago

The trail to Monarch lakes starts in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, at the Sawtooth pass trailhead. It's a very popular trailhead and parking can be a challenge, but on a popular weekend there was still enough to go around. However it's possible to be stuck with parking quite a ways away from the trailhead so plan accordingly. They always advise hikers about tarping your car, I personally have hiked a fair amount in this area and have never had issues, to each their own. The beginning of this hike in my opinion is the most steep and difficult. About 0.6 miles in you reach groundhog Meadow where the trail takes a right across Monarch creek and starts to ascend a moderate uphill section of numerous switchbacks. For the next 2.5-3 miles your hiking through covered area in pine and fir filled forest. When you reach the trail junction for crystal lake, continue left for another 1.2 miles to reach lower Monarch lake. This last section leaves the forest and hikes through the side of the mountain with views across the canyon. The lower lake is beautiful. If you like to have cover, then this might not be for you, there is no cover at the lake. Elevation is around 10,400 ft elev. There is an ear box and a vault toilet, although it is located in the middle of where everyone seems to set up camp so I can image not having much privacy here during the day. The fishing was good, especially for kids if they are brace enough for the hike. Lots of small brook trout can easily be caught here. The trail to upper Monarch is not easily found, although most go around the north side of lower monarch following around the eastern side to the slope going up to the upper lake. You'll have to find your own route but should t be too crazy. Overall I really enjoyed the stay at the lake and I will most likely return.

14 days ago

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!!

22 days ago

22 days ago

25 days ago

26 days ago

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:

30 days ago

1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

10 months ago

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!

11 months ago

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.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

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