Download trip map HERE
Bullfrog Lakes is the northern most lake on the Sequoia National Forest side of the wilderness. There are two lakes nested in a small cirque just below Florence Peak (12,432 ft). The lower of the two lakes has an elevation of approximately 10,740 feet! The upper lake is around 11,000 feet. Mountain Yellow Legged Frogs are located here, so when visiting please be mindful about keeping the lake and surrounding area pristine. These frogs are considered “endangered” by the California Endangered Species Act. If you wanted to fish, don’t bother. There are no fish in either of the lakes.
There are two ways of getting to Bullfrog Lakes. One could come from the Sequoia National Forest or from Mineral King. The trip discussed below is coming from Mineral King as it provides great views the entire trek and is the shortest route (8 miles one way).
Start by taking Highway 198 east towards the town of Three Rivers. About 2/3rds of the way through town a brown sign will direct users to Mineral King. This historical, narrow, and windy road will take you to the start of the trail. Make sure to call the Mineral King office to get information about road conditions and overnight parking. Bring chicken wire or similar to put around the base of your vehicle. Marmots and other vermin are known to climb up under vehicles and chew on the hoses. It would be a bummer to not only come back to a vehicle with no coolant or brake fluid, but to possibly and unintentionally harm the animals.
Once parked the trail goes south along the East Fork of the Kaweah River. The trail is well-marked and the views are spectacular. Water can be found at both creek crossings (Crystal and Franklin Creeks). The trail has been well designed and maintains a steady grade with long switchbacks for several miles (6.4 miles). Don’t forget to keep an eye out for marmots, wildflowers, and a view of the Mineral King valley.
Once you pass Franklin Creek, the trail gets steeper. Views of Tulare Peak to the southeast can been seen as well as Vandever Mountain near Farewell Gap. Continue trekking uphill and the trail will eventually arrive at Farewell Gap. At this point, the trail transitions over to the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Sequoia National Forest. Farewell Gap is also a divide between the Little Kern River and East Fork of the Kaweah River. Sometimes snow will stay on the south side well into the summer due to the strong winds that blow here.
After enjoying a break or the views from Farewell Gap, continue south and downhill for another mile. A faded trail cutoff will save 0.2 miles at this point and goes left/straight, while the main trail continues downhill and to the right. Take the cutoff and contour over to Bullfrog Creek. Once you cross the creek, the trail quickly goes uphill or downhill. Take it uphill towards Bullfrog Lakes. The last 0.8 mile stretch is very steep climb. The talis along the upper portion makes for a good ankle workout. Once at the top the trail ends at the lower lake.