Distance: 6 miles (9 km) one way to Lower Franklin Lake
Elevation: 7,800 - 11,800 ft.
Time: 5-7 hours round trip (not including stops for rest or picture taking)
Vast alpine scenery, tumbling streams, pleasant riparian areas with seasonal wildflowers, and quiet mountain lakes await hikers of the Franklin Pass Trail in the Mineral King Valley in Sequoia National Park. The deep red, orange, and brown metamorphic rocks of Mineral King provide a pleasant contrast with the overwhelming granite that dominates much of the rest of the park.
The trail begins near the end of Mineral King Road just beyond the East Fork Kaweah River Bridge. The 6-mile route to Franklin Lakes gently climbs toward Farewell Gap. After crossing two rushing streams, the trail begins climbing a serious set of switchbacks providing breathtaking views of the alpine country leading alternately to Farewell Gap and the Mineral King Valley far below.
At 3.25 miles hikers turn left at the junction and continue their climb around the flank of Tulare Peak and up the Franklin Creek drainage toward Franklin Lakes. At 4.4 miles, the trail crosses willow-lined Franklin Creek at 9,900 feet above sea level. The valley opens up as the trail skirts the bottom of Lower Franklin Lake and then climbs steadily above the lake toward Franklin Pass. Pleasant campsites are scattered just below the dam and also on flat areas of the steep slope between the trail and the lake.
Adventurous backpackers can extend their trip by continuing over Franklin Pass into the remote Kern Country. One possible loop is to proceed down the Rattlesnake Creek Trail to the junction with the Soda Creek Trail and return to Mineral King via the Lost Canyon Trail over Sawtooth Pass and down the Monarch Lakes Trail. Be aware that the trail from Columbine Lake to Monarch Lakes is unmaintained and hard to follow because of steep and loose rock. For more information, contact the Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP Wilderness Office: Phone (559) 565-3766, Fax (559) 565-4239, E-mail SEKI_Wilderness_Office@nps.gov.
Help us keep this place beautiful. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints. Please pack out your trash.
Know the Bear Facts! Whether staying in the picnic area or going for a longer hike, always store food away from bears. Use large, brown bear-proof boxes to store food and scented items. Never leave food or scented items unattended.
Be Safe! Bring plenty of drinking water and snacks/lunch. Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction, as well as long pants (due to ticks and poison oak). Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring insect repellent.