Backpack to Franklin Lakes & Franklin Pass

Mineral King Ranger Station - Search Nearby - 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.

Distance

11.4 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

2500 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

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

Forest
Lake
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Nearby Lodging

From $100/night

Starry Night

Squaw Valley, California

Lake Isabella / Kern River KOA

Weldon, California

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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