The trail that leads to Franklin Lakes begins at the end of Mineral King Road and leads eastward through Sequoia National Park to Kern Canyon. The trail can be used in conjunction with other trails in the park to create a long-distance backpacking trip. Day hikes of varying length can also be enjoyed along this route.
This trail begins at the Eagle/Mosquito Trailhead beyond the Mineral King Pack Station. Follow the Farewell Pass Trail southward from the trailhead. It begins by leading along the eastern bank of the East Fork Kaweah River. The first two miles of the trail are level and an excellent trek for families. This segment leads along the river, where fly fishing and wildflower identification are popular pursuits. About one mile from the trailhead Crystal Creek empties into the East Fork Kaweah River in a picturesque cascade.
The trail begins to gain elevation more quickly after the two mile mark. Immediately before a set of switchbacks, the trail crosses Franklin Creek, which also cascades into the headwaters. Then the trail begins to switchback, climbing steeply for a mile away from the stream. At the top of this climb the trail forks. The left fork leads to Franklin Lakes and the right to Farewell Gap. The elevation of this fork is approximately 9,500 feet.
From this fork walk eastward toward Franklin Lakes. The trail gains elevation slightly as it leads toward the runoff of the lakes. It crosses the stream at 10,000 feet and continues to ascend toward the lakes. In approximately two miles from the Farewell Gap Trail, this route reaches the eastern shore of lower Franklin Lake.
The trail leads along the lakeshore for a short distance then continues to Franklin Pass. From the lakes the trail continues to climb steeply, gaining 1,200 feet from the lake to the pass. The pass lies at approximately 11,600 feet on the Great Western Divide. This is the high point of the Franklin Lakes Trail.
The trail continues over Franklin Pass and into the Kern River drainage. Descending from the pass the trail begins to follow the Rattlesnake Creek drainage. The terrain is relatively flat on the eastern side of the divide. In this area several small streams empty into the headwaters of Rattlesnake Creek. Two miles from the pass a trail branches to the left, which leads to Little Claire Lake and Lost Canyon. This trail can be used to form a loop back to the Mineral King area.
The Franklin Lakes Trail continues descending into the Kern River Valley. The trail leads to the river on the northern shore of Rattlesnake Creek. It continues to descend steadily. Eleven thousand foot peaks stand on either side of the drainage. The distance from the spur trail to Kern River is approximately seven miles. The end of the trail descends steeply into the Kern Canyon. The last descent begins at 8,000 feet and ends on the river bank at 6,585 feet.
Directions: From Lookout Point Entrance, Drive eastward on Mineral King Road to the fork at the end. Follow the right side of the fork to the Eagle/Mosquito Parking Area. (This is the trailhead for the Eagle Lake Trail.) Walk back to the bridge that crosses the river and follow it. Turn right on the dirt road that leads to the Mineral King Pack Station. Pass the corral and look for the Farewell Gap Trail sign.
Elevation: 7,800 feet
Ending Elevation: 6,585 feet
Distance: 16 miles
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Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, California
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