Monarch Lakes Trail

HARD 52 reviews
#23 of 90 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 is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is best used from July until October.

Distance: 8.4 miles Elevation Gain: 2,650 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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. Note: The road leading to the trailhead is closed in the winter.

hiking
1 day ago

The trail was amazing and an awesome climb. Took us 2:10 to ascend, 1:45 to descent. The first section is completely exposed and the toughest, so have a hat and wear sunscreen. However I think there are more stunning destinations near by than Monarch Lake, and the trail head is at the end of Mineral King road which is about 25 miles of extremely narrow and windy turns. It took about 1:30 to drive up Mineral King to the trail head, and 1:20 to come down. The road is closed in the winter.

hiking
1 month ago

Quick little climb. I’ve done this stretch to Monarch before and it’s always a beautiful warm up for Sawtooth.

hiking
10 months ago

Awesome little hike! First mile gets you broke in pretty well, after crossing the creek and getting into the wooded area, it’s fairly easy going. Take your time, remember your up over 9k ft elevation and still climbing! Did not make it up to Upper Monarch as I got a late start and I was running out of daylight. Logged just over 10 miles and the entire hike took me about 4.5 hours. Awesome views of the Mineral King Valley.

backpacking
11 months ago

Highly recommend trekking poles if you have a heavy pack. If you’re staying overnight there is a bear box and latrine (albeit without an enclosure) at the lower monarch lake. When we overnighted we were informed there were no open fires allowed above 9,000’ so plan accordingly. Beautiful views and a beautiful little lake, you’ll probably see other people there during the day at least.

hiking
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This is such a wonderful hike. It is difficult, with the first mile and a half being the hardest and most exposed. It's also the worst part when returning - steep, hot, and your feet are dying to rest. We clocked in 11.3 miles on this hike, not 8.4, but we also went to the upper monarch lake as well (worth it). This was a surprisingly shady hike for the most part and the water at Monarch is very cold but refreshing. We had the first lake to ourselves for close to 30 minutes and it was wonderful. Love that the Mineral King area has relatively few visitors compared to the main part of the park. Just a note, the trail splits at one point and the other trail leads to Crystal lake. That is an unmaintained trail. So if you don't feel like dealing with some scrambling, I recommend doing Monarch instead.

hiking
Monday, June 25, 2018

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.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

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

Thursday, November 02, 2017

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.

backpacking
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

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.

Monday, September 04, 2017

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!!

backpacking
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: https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/sequoia-mineral-king/

hiking
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.

backpacking
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!

backpacking
Monday, August 15, 2016

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

hiking
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.

backpacking
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.

hiking
Thursday, January 01, 2015

Did this on my Mineral Kings trip. Killer lake views

hiking
8 days ago

recorded Monarch Lakes Trail

8 days ago

hiking
15 days ago

recorded Monarch Lakes Trail

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

recorded Monarch Lakes Trail

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

4 months ago

Load More

Featured Trails