July 4th Franklin Lakes Overnight, Sequoia National Park
Elevation Low: 7818 ft
Elevation High: 10,734 ft
Climb: 3376 ft
Mileage: ~12.0 mi roundtrip
Duration: 1 Night, 2 Days
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Bug Forecast: Low
What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to immerse yourself in the beauty of this country! Cory and I backpacked Eagle Lake in Sequoia last year on the 4th and decided we would continue the tradition this year.
Mineral King is a section of Sequoia National Park that is relatively quiet due to the fact that to get there requires driving 2 hours on an incredibly windy and narrow road. This should not be overlooked as it is a very uncomfortable and difficult drive...not for everyone. That being said, Mineral King is gorgeously-green, full of wild flowers, high grass, and rushing waterfalls. It makes you want to run through the meadow singing "the hills are alive with the sound of music"...which we may or may not have done.
Very windy and narrow road (2 hours)
Stream Crossings - Bring water shoes and hiking poles
The Franklin Lakes trail is on the opposite side of the valley from Eagle Lake. After hiking Eagle Lake last summer I was expecting a similar steep climb, but was pleasantly surprised when the ~3000 ft climb was gradual. The trail followed the valley carved by the river for a couple miles with two large stream crossings along the way and then turned to climb up over the pass and towards the lakes. Most of the hike was pretty exposed with few patches of trees and lots of waterfalls and meadows.
After several years of drought, it was wonderful to see the area looking alive and in full bloom. The meadows had pops of color from the dozens and dozens of flower species and so many butterflies. As we passed through some of the more muddy regions we could smell wild onions and mint.
Franklin Lake itself doesn't have too much in the way of camping spots, so we kept hiking up towards Franklin Pass. Right before the pass there is large expansive meadow with running streams and several flat/dry areas to pop up a tent. Since we were one of two groups camping up above Franklin Lake we picked a spot surrounded by boulders and overlooking the lake. Pretty perfect.
Sequoia National Park unfortunately has some of the worst air quality in California, as it is the pooling area for San Francisco, Sacramento, and the central valley. Because of this, I wasn't expecting a clear sky, but we had some of the clearest stars I've seen and dozens of shooting stars to wish upon!
In the morning, Cory decided to do a quick hike to the top of Franklin Pass (about a 2-3 hour hike). I opted out and read my book on a rock overlooking the lake...both options were spectacular.
Bug Forecast: LOW
(even though there was lots of water, the cooler night temps and high elevation kept the mosquitos away)