Backpacking in Sequoia National Park - Eagle Lake
Location: Sequoia National Park, Mineral King, Eagle Lake Campground
Duration: 1 Night, 2 Days
Length: 8 Miles round trip
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult (Very Steep Incline, Boulder Fields)
Elevation: Starts at 7500 feet
Notes: Gets fairly buggy, bring good bug spray!
When you think Sequoia National Park, you tend to think forested, big trees etc, but not necessarily incredible vistas and enormous peaks. This was our first trip to Mineral King, a more secluded section of Sequoia. After a VERY windy drive up, we entered what I imagine Switzerland to look like, with its lush green grass, wild flowers, and humongous mountains...in other words, perfection. Waterfalls were gushing into the valley forming a river in the heart of Mineral King. Since we were in a very horrible drought this summer, the water was wonderful!
After gearing up, we took off towards Eagle Lake. The immediate and intense incline was exhausting (the Valley Floor starts at 7500 feet). Frequent snack and water stops had to be made to prevent altitude sickness, but the view was spectacular at every point.
Along the hike up there was an incredible range of terrain, from meadows, to waterfalls, to giant scree fields. ***note that these boulder fields are expansive, if you have bad knees, I highly recommend using hiking poles***
After a very steep climb we were rewarded with one of the most stunning views and camping spots, I have ever encountered. Eagle Lake, as many alpine lakes are, is nestled within a mountain wall. However, from Eagle Lake you can see mountain vistas to the North and experience an epic sunset. The night we camped, the weather was constantly changing making for some dramatic sunset shots.
We originally intended to hike down the next day and start on a different hike in Mineral King, however the micro-climate system brought hail and thunderstorms so we decided to head home. We hope to make another trip to Mineral King in 2016!