Backpack to Franklin Lakes & Franklin Pass

Rate this Adventure Yosemite Mineral King Ranger Station

Added by Michael Kovalsky

This will take about 3 days with Beautiful views and Great campsites. Easy to get same day backpacking permits, so What more could you ask to get away for the weekend?

Franklin Lakes is part of the Sequoia National Park and can be reached from the trailhead starting near the Mineral King Ranger Station. Bear containers are required and can be rented at the Ranger Station. The hike to Franklin Lakes campground will take 6 hours or less (depending on your speed/how much weight you're carrying) to cover 5.7 miles and will gain 2,500 ft in elevation.

Ideally, it would be best to hike up to Franklin Lakes and set up camp on day 1, and hike to and explore Franklin Pass on day 2 before heading back down on day 3. With a little bit of scrambling, the views from Franklin Pass include no less than 10 lakes! To reach Franklin Pass, simply continue up the one trail you took to get to Franklin Lakes. The pass will cover an additional 2.8 miles and 1500ft of elevation and can easily be done in a day if you start in the morning. It's totally worth it!

Starting at an elevation of 7,831 ft, the hardest part of getting to Franklin Lakes is the long winding road you have to take to get to the trailhead. Once you reach the Mineral King Ranger Station, you'll want to pick up your overnight permit and rent a bear container if you don't already have one.

Once you're set, continue driving up the road past the ranger station and over the bridge until you reach a locked gate. The parking area will be on your right and the trailhead starts at the gate.

The trail starts off relatively flat, but once it starts uphill, it's all uphill from there with a few nice spots for breaks where the trail crosses small waterfalls and streams. You'll see a few campsites on the way to the first lake, but keep going - the best sites are right at the lake. Btw, the lake is also stocked with fish.

The campground at Franklin Lakes is first come, first serve. You'll be getting your water from the lake, so try not to set up camp too far away from it, or if you do, make sure you have a large water filtration system where you only need to make one trip.

To get to Franklin Pass (highly recommended!), continue up on the same trail you took to Franklin Lakes. The higher you get, the more spectacular the views are and it'll be worth all the pain of hiking up. When you reach the summit, make sure to explore in all directions. To your right, you'll get great views of Franklin Lakes; in front of you, you can see a few more lakes and even the peaks of Whitney; to your left, follow the trail a bit more until you reach the sign-less wooden post, then scramble your way to where you can see over the ridge - there's another few lakes there too! Nothing beats views of lakes from high above other than camping right at the lake, so you get the best of both worlds on this trip and plenty of photo ops too!

Please note that the road to this trailhead closes for the year, depending on weather conditions. I was told by the ranger that this normally occurs around mid-October.

Pack List

  • Large backpack (I recommend a 75L to make sure you can fit a bear container in there)
  • Bear container
  • Bear Spray
  • Food
  • Hydration Bladder
  • Water (3L should be fine)
  • Camping Stove
  • Gas for camping stove
  • Lighter, waterproof matches
  • Layers of clothing (depending on temp)
  • Sleeping bag (check temp to see which bag to bring)
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Rain shell
  • Water resistant pants (love the ones that also turn into shorts)
  • Camera
  • Extra batteries
  • Headlamp
  • Filtration system (preferably gravity 4L)
  • Spork
  • Camping cup
  • Knife
  • First Aid Kit
  • Lantern
  • Poop shovel/toilet paper/toiletries
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Fishing, Hiking, Photography, Swimming

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

11.4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2500 Feet

Features:

Forest
Lake
Romantic
Scenic
Swimming Hole
Waterfall
Wildlife

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Added by Michael Kovalsky

Natureboy, East Coast raised and now based in sunny Southern California. Always out exploring and I love to share tips and tricks to all of my trips. It's always great to meet like minded folks who are nature nuts and adventurers. I'm always sharing on instagram (exploremorenature), so feel free to hit me up to share your latest and greatest and I'll do the same. Outside of exploring, I manage grants for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development for programs that benefit the homeless and low-income persons. Volunteering/helping others is my rent for living on this beautiful planet.

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