Florence Peak is a rocky peak located in the southwest Sierras. It sits within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. This area is popular with backpackers and lake poaching campers, but the peak sees minor climbing activity. At 12,432’, it is the highest above the Mineral King Valley.
Florence Peak poses challenges for both summer and winter climbers. The Northwest face offers a variety of multi pitch rock routes that lead to the summit or the summit ridge. Standard mountaineering routes lead to the top from Farewell Gap to the southwest or from Franklin Pass to the Northeast. During the winter, this snow covered peak displays a few intriguing ski descents.
Florence peak is approached from Mineral King in the southern portion of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. To get there, take Highway 99 to the city of Visalia then drive east on Highway 198. After about an hour you’ll reach the town of Three Rivers. Drive through and take a right onto Mineral King Road. This is about two miles before the Sequoia National Park entrance. Take Mineral King Road 25 miles to the end. It will take about an hour as it has many switchbacks and is steep. Five miles before the end you’ll reach the Atwell Ranger Station and the beginning of the national park.
After obtaining permits, proceed to the trailhead at the end of Mineral King Road. There are two trailheads. Find the trailhead for the Farewell Coyote Trail just beyond the pack station on the east side of the creek. This is on the left side if you are in the parking lot facing south up Farewell Canyon.
Use a USGS Mineral King topo map for Florence Peak.
There is a fee to enter the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. It is $10 per vehicle for a seven day pass or $20 for an annual pass.
Backcountry permits are required to camp in the park. See the camping section for more details.
When To Climb
For summer climbs, the best months to go are from May through August. For winter touring, the best months to go are from February through early June
There are thirteen campgrounds in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and a few resort-type campgrounds outside of the park. In addition to the campgrounds are backcountry sights, which start at least three miles from any trailhead. The closest campgrounds to the trailhead are Cold Spring at 7,500’ at the end of Mineral King Road and Atwell Mill at 6,650’ five miles from the end of the road and trailhead. Both of these campgrounds have a $6.00 fee.
Backcountry camping permits must be obtained from the Mineral King Ranger Station located on the left side of Mineral King Road toward the end. Up to 75% of the daily quota for backcountry permits may be reserved for a $10 fee. This is highly recommended as it fills up very quickly and they don’t mind turning people away. The remaining 25% are at a first come, first serve basis but are free.
For reservations call 559-565-3708, fax to 559-565-4239, or write to:
Wilderness Permit Reservations
HCR 89 Box 60
Three Rivers, CA 93271
The recommended backcountry spots are at the base of Florence Peak by the Franklin Lakes at just over 10,000’. Camp at least 100’ from the lakes in designated spots, not on vegetation. Fires are not permitted in this area.
Camping within the park is permitted only in established campgrounds. Camping or sleeping in vehicles is not allowed in parking lots, pull-outs, picnic areas or trailheads. For those late night arrivals, this area is very difficult, as there aren’t many places to create a spot in the first place. My last late night arrival there found every campground full, and it took two hours of careful negotiation to find a sketchy pull out that we were more then glad to pull away from at day break.
For more in depth information on camping go to the Sequoia camping page.
Lodging in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is available through Kings Canyon Park Services, PO Box 909, Kings Canyon NP, CA 93633. Grant Grove Lodge is open all year. Giant Forest and Cedar Grove lodges are open during the summer.
During the summer, the area around Florence Peak can see temperatures in the 90s. At night it can drop down to the thirties. During the winter, expect full winter conditions with heavy snowfall and temperatures well below freezing. Thunderstorms, rain and even snow can occur at any time of the year.
For weather forecasts and conditions check the National Weather Service or intellicast for the Sequoia National Park. For road and weather information call 559-565-3341 or go to Caltrans.
For general weather information in the Sequoia National Park click here.
For general information on snowpack go to California Cooperative Snow Surveys.
For general information on avalanche conditions in the Sierras go to the Central Sierra Avalanche Information page.
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