Eagle Lake is nestled within a high-elevation granite cirque in the Mineral King region of Sequoia National Park. The robust hike to the lake climbs 2,200 feet over 3.6 miles and delivers a steady climb with expanding views.
Start from Eagle-Mosquito Trailhead at the end of Mineral King Road and commence hiking up the west rim of the valley. Cross the wooden footbridge that has been built over Spring Creek and continue uphill. Across the valley, Crystal Creek tumbles down the mountainside, providing a soothing sight. Straight ahead is the 11,947-foot tall Vandever Mountain. Enjoy the views and reassure yourself that you will only have to climb to 10,000 feet to visit Eagle Lake.
After 1 mile, turn right at the White Chief Trail junction. Eagle Lake Trail shifts in style from a straight track to a series of switchbacks that chew into the elevation. At the junction with the Mosquito Lakes Trail, turn left and set your sites on Eagle Lake, 1.7 miles away. Alternatively, hikers could turn right here and hike the same distance to the lowest of four Mosquito Lakes located one ridge west of Eagle Lake.
The ascent tapers temporarily as you follow Eagle Creek to its source, passing a pair of unique “sink holes” where the water disappear underground into strange craters. Pass through a wooded meadow and dissect an alpine boulder field. The trail mounts a talus slope beneath Eagle Lake and offers fine northeast views toward Sawtooth and Mineral Peaks. Let the fine views spur you up this last bit of elevation.
The trail ends at the north shore of Eagle Lake, where a small dam, maintained by Southern California Edison, enhances the volume of the lake. A path continues through the trees along the western shoreline. Large rocks act as islands in the lake, which gets more picturesque the farther you walk.
The hike to Eagle Lake is 7.2 miles round trip. Bear boxes are provided at the trailhead, so be certain not to leave anything edible in your vehicle. Also be on the lookout for Marmot, which are know to climb into car engines and chew wires. Dogs and bikes are not allowed on Eagle Lake Trail. A permit is not needed to day hike to Eagle Lake, but you will need to pay a national park entrance fee to reach the trailhead (or hold an annual pass).
To get to the trailhead: drive to the very end of Mineral King Road and park in the trailhead lot. Mineral King Road is a long and twisty twenty-five mile drive from the city of Three Rivers (which can take well over one hour). Atwell Mill and Cold Springs Campgrounds serve as outstanding base camps.
Trailhead address: Mineral King Road Trail, Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, CA 93271
Trailhead coordinates: 36.4488, -118.5954 (36° 26′ 55.7″N 118° 35′ 43.4″W)
|Monarch Lakes Trail
This 9.4-mile hike visits a spectacular pair of lakes high above Mineral King Valley.
| Hockett Trail
This wooded 3-mile hike descends to a bridge spanning the East Fork of Kaweah River. Adventurous hikers can continue on to East Fork Sequoia Grove and more Mineral King backcountry.
|More trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Explore other destinations in Sequoia National Park and the rest of the range.
This scenic trail through a lake-filled basin provides a 10-mile round trip day hike to Long Lake and a 7.5-miles one-way trek to New Army Pass on the border of Sequoia National Park near Mount Langley.
|Chicken Spring Lake
This 8.2-mile round trip hike continues past Cottonwood Pass to an alpine lake that makes a nice day hike destination or a good first camp for backpackers.
|Lower Soldier Lake
This 19.2-mile loop crosses Cottonwood Pass and New Army Pass to visit a beautiful lake that is an ideal camping spot for backpackers heading higher and deeper into the Sierra.
| Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Campgrounds
There are 14 campgrounds with over 1,000 total sites spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit (including Atwell Mill Campground and Cold Springs Campground in Mineral King).