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Eagle Lake (Mineral King)

Sequoia National Park

July 1st, 2014

8.0 miles
2170 vertical feet
Total Time: 6:34

Starting elevation
7835 feet
Max elevation
10037 feet

Rating: 8/10

Directions: From Visalia, take Highway 198 east to Three Rivers. Turn right onto Mineral King Road. Follow the road all the way to the end (about 25 miles). Keep right at the end to cross the bridge and park in the small dirt parking lot.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

The parking lot was noticeably less full than yesterday on this Tuesday morning. We were the only car with a tarp on, though others had their hoods up to fend off the radiator hose-eating marmots. The previous day, when I had tarped over the entire front windshield, I'd gotten a courtesy notice from the ranger that they couldn't see our park entry receipt. So this time I made sure to put the receipt at the top of the windshield and make it visible. Something to keep in mind if you're tarping.

The first 1.3 miles of the trail for this hike is the same as the trail to White Chief Canyon. Thankfully, it wasn't quite as hot today as it was yesterday. We made our way up the trail, reached the junction and this time turned right toward Eagle and Mosquito Lakes. The trail climbs steeply, gaining some nice views.

The trail then levels off and enters the forest, crossing Eagle Creek. At the time I didn't really notice, but there are sink holes here, the creek disappearing into the ground. I did notice that the water seemed to drop off steeply but I didn't look closely.

View looking back from the climb

We shortly came to the final trail junction (about a mile past the first junction), with the fork to the right leading up to Mosquito Lake. We continued straight (left fork) toward Eagle Lake. The trail starts to climb again, somewhat steeply. With about three quarters of a mile to go, we stopped to rest. I thought it would take us another half hour or so, but an older gentleman who came down the trail said it would take 60-90 minutes. However, I didn't put too much stock into that estimate as he seemed to move a bit slowly and he probably underestimated our kids.

We got up and started the final leg and it does look rather daunting at first - an exposed walk through a large talus field, sometimes scrambling over rocks. But it's actually not that bad. Plus, you get great views of the surrounding area as you climb. We plodded along, shortly topping the talus field. But our work wasn't done. There was still a bit of climbing to be done. After about 40 minutes from our rest stop, we reached Eagle Lake.

Talus slope below the lake

Ascending talus slope toward the lake

Looking back from the slope

There were two hikers at the dam at the northern end of the lake, two of about 10 people we saw on the hike the entire day. We walked a bit further and stopped for lunch on the western shore. It's a beautiful lake with easy shore access, plentiful fish in the lake (we didn't fish, but we saw them clearly), and marmots running around. A perfect spot to spend two hours on a warm summer day, which is what we did. One of my favorite parts was being able to walk right into the lake on some submerged rocks in the southern end of the lake. It was a bit cold at first, but refreshing.

Southern end of Eagle Lake

Northern end of Eagle Lake

Looking back toward the dam

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake


Marmot looking for some shade

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake dam

After our long break we finally left the lake around 3:30pm, returning the way we came and reaching the parking lot about 2 hours later. Along the way we spied some grouse, both on the descent between the two junctions and later as we approached the parking area. Deer were also visible near the East Fork Kaweah River as we returned in the late afternoon light.

Descending in the afternoon light

View from the trail

Base of pine tree

Pine tree

Interesting rock pattern

Wider view of the rock pattern

Descending the talus slope

View from the talus

Final descent of the talus slope

Descending more switchbacks

Grouse in the bushes

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