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Monarch Lake

Distance: 9.0 miles (round trip)

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, near Mineral King in California's Southwestern Sierra

Lower Monarch Lake

Lower Monarch Lake


Beautiful Monarch Lakes lie cradled in scenic bowl at the foot of Sawtooth and Mineral Peaks. A moderately-steep trail to the lake climbs through meadows, red fir forest and avalanche-scoured slopes and features fine views of the Mineral King valley. (full description)

  • Distance: 9.0 miles (round trip) to Monarch Lake
  • Elevation: 7,840-ft. at Trailhead
    10,390-ft. at Monarch Lake
  • Elevation Gain: 2,550-ft. to Monarch Lake
  • Difficulty: moderate-strenuous
  • Basecamp: Mineral King
  • Region: California's Southwestern Sierra

Why Hike Monarch Lake

Picturesque Monarch Lakes are nestled in a dramatic cirque beneath Sawtooth and Mineral Peaks. Hikers climbing the steep trail to the lakes basin are rewarded with great views of the East Fork Kaweah valley, Monarch Canyon and the Great Western Divide. Beyond the lakes an extremely strenuous climb up an unmaintained trail leads to Sawtooth Pass, with arguably some of the best views in the southern Sierras.

Do not expect solitude on this hike. Monarch Lake is a popular destination for day hikers and a stop on several multi-day backpacking loops in the Mineral King area. I recommend getting an early start on this hike. The first part of the trail, which climbs steeply up dry exposed, sagebrush covered slopes, can be a real scorcher during the height of the summer.

Read the full trail description

Elevation Profile

Monarch Lake Elevation Profile

Trail Resources