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Mineral King Loop

 4.8 (13)
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25.6 Miles 41.3 Kilometers

9,101' 2,774 m


-9,091' -2,771 m



Avg Grade (8°)


Max Grade (29°)

11,679' 3,560 m


7,069' 2,155 m


Shared By Aaron Groves



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A challenging yet rewarding loop in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, CA.

Aaron Groves

Dogs No Dogs

Features Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

The road to Mineral King has seasonal closures.


This route covers diverse terrain, from granite cirques, verdant meadows, and alpine lakes to high alpine scrambling passes and granite peaks and scree.


From the Timber Gap Trailhead follow the trail to the left to Timber Gap. You'll start out your journey on the Timber Gap Trail, which you'll follow for the first few miles of the outing. Once you arrive at Timber Gap Creek and the junction of Blackrock Pass, take a right and follow the trail towards Blackrock Pass. If you decide partway through the route that the full distance is a bit much, you can bail out on the Sawtooth/Glacier Pass Class III Shortcut. This route is still plenty rugged, so it might stretch the definition of a "shortcut". If your plan is to complete the full loop, continue your journey t Blackrock Pass. After a strenuous climb up to the pass, you'll have earned sweeping views.

Shortly after reaching the pass, you'll come to an intersection with the Big Five Lakes - Buckhorn Pass Trail. Take the cutoff towards the lakes, and you'll be rewarded by the gorgeous lakes known as Little 5 Lakes and Big 5 Lakes. Continue on the Big Five Lakes Trail to Buckhorn Pass and veer right towards Columbine Lake and Sawtooth Pass at an intersection with the Lost Canyon Trail. A beautiful alpine lake and scramble await, before a slippery scree slope descent back to the trailhead from Sawtooth Pass on the Monarch Trail.


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Your Check-Ins


Sep 12, 2018
Griffin Davis
Solo 1 night. Amazing views. Lots of elevation changes. Vast and diverse scenery
Sep 2, 2018
Juhi Huda
Aug 18, 2018
Schuyler S
Great long weekend trip to do in 3 days. 26mi
Aug 18, 2018
Paul Truong
So far, the most beautiful and hard hike I have ever done. Worth every switchback
Jul 13, 2018
Janey Gidion-McNeely
Jul 5, 2018
Denis Akan
Jul 4, 2018
Vincent Galgano
Jun 30, 2018
Stuart Wurtman
Hiked this 6/20/18 through 6/22/18. Rumors were the trail was covered in snow two weeks prior. No snow this time, but walls of mosquitos instead.

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 13 votes


in Mineral King


  4.8 from 13 votes
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Aaron Groves
Bakersfield, Ca
Aaron Groves   Bakersfield, Ca
Clockwise is a better route in my opinion. The clockwise route allows you more time to acclimate and the scenery only gets better along the way. The counter clockwise approach has hikers going over Sawtooth Pass day 1 and ending with some less than stellar scenery as you wind down toward Pinto Lake at the end of the route. Aug 20, 2018
I just did this loop this weekend and definitely recommend clockwise. The trail on the west side of Sawtooth Pass is a lot of loose dirt/gravel. We had an easy time descending this - almost "glissading" at certain sections - but I would not want to hike up this if I could avoid it. We made it all the way to Lower 5 on the first day, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the lakes on the second day. We brought a Klymit LWD raft and had fun paddling around on Lower Big 5 and Columbine Lakes. Aug 21, 2018
My friend and I just did this loop (8/17 - 8/20/18). We did it clockwise and think it was a smart choice. Both directions have a beast of a pass (going clockwise, blackrock pass ascends ~4,000 feet in ~5 miles), but I agree with the assessment; going up Sawtooth, with its loose gravel would be hard. Note, the west side of sawtooth is NOT well marked. We actually got off trail quite a bit and found ourselves going cross country over some hard terrain for about 2 hours to get back to the trail. Another note, lots of people seem to want to camp at Columbine lake. I thought camping below the lake, in Lost Canyon, was much better. It's prettier with better camping. Aug 22, 2018

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