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Mineral King to Monarch Lakes

A day hike from Mineral King Valley to Monarch Lakes and back.
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 8.389 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview:  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... more »

Tips:  The 25 mile long road to Mineral King Valley from Three Rivers takes about 90 minutes to drive. So if you are planning to come in hike... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Sawtooth trailhead

The hike to Monarch lakes start from the Sawtooth trail head located on the Mineral King Road. There is parking on both sides of the road.

2. Steep hike up to the Monarch Creek crossing.

The first 0.8 miles to the Monarch creek crossing is a steep hike and I felt was the most difficult part of the whole hike. But the views of the Mineral King Valley from this stretch are spectacular.

3. Monarch Creek Crossing

You have to cross the creek to continue hiking to the Monarch Lakes. There is a meadow with beautiful flowers at the creek crossing.

4. Series of switchbacks to Chihuahua bowl

The trail climbs up from the monarch creek through a series of switchbacks but the grade is much more manageable than the first stretch. You will see a lot of marmots on the way up.

5. Trail to crystal lakes splits here.

There is a junction (well-marked) and staying on the left takes you to Monarch Lakes. The trail on the right hand side takes you to crystal lake.

6. To the Lakes

The trail is relatively easy from this point to the lakes with amazing views of the mineral peak, sawtooth pass and the valley below.

7. Monarch Lakes.

The trail ends at Lower Monarch Lake. There is a cross country route that takes you up to the Sawtooth pass but we went to the Upper Monarch Lake instead. There is no official trail to the upper monarch lake but there appears to be a path (stones to mark the path) made by the hikers to the upper lake.

Getting to the upper lake involves some rock... More