While getting to Mineral King in itself can be cumbersome, Mineral Peak is a worthy destination which is quite rewarding for the minimal effort.
Getting ThereGetting to Mineral King
Take State Route 198 from Visalia to Sequoia National Park, turn right onto Mineral King Road just north of Three Rivers. Follow Mineral King Road about 26 miles to the Timber Gap trailhead. If you have not been to Mineral King before, you will know you are getting close to the area by first seeing car camping, then cabins, then the "Silver City Resort", then the Ranger Station, and about 3/4 miles later you will arrive at the Timber Gap trailhead.
The Mineral King Road is often critisized but is usually is good repair. There are two short dirt sections, but these sections are always easily traveled with any vehicle. Use caution rounding corners as the road is barely one lane wide in most locations. Deer, bear and many small creatures are often observed on the road approaching Mineral King (I've seen more bear on the road then in the surrounding mountains).
Getting to the Trailhead
The trailhead is at 7,800 feet and there is ample parking. The "car eating" Marmots are prevelant during the early season until the snow sufficiently melts off above, at which time the Marmots mostly vacate to higher ground. If hiking in during the early season you'd be well advised to park at the ranger station and walk the addition 1.5 miles (round trip) or so to keep your car out of the Marmots teeth. There is a public phone at the TH.
Getting to Mineral Peak
There are two primary ways to get to the base of Mineral Peak, both starting from the Timber Gap trailhead. Both are a little over four miles approach to the base of the mountain. From the TH, travel about two miles to the junction of the Crystal Lakes trail and the Monarch Lakes trail.
The Crystal Lakes trail is the more straightforward and popular means to get to Mineral Peak. It is about 2.3 miles from the trail junction to Crystal Lakes. If you take the Monarch Lakes trail, it is about 2.1 miles to Monarch Lakes then a longer scramble to the base of Mineral Peak (about .5 miles and 900' vertical feet). Making a loop using both these trails is quite enjoyable and provides lots of options and scenery.
Ascending Mineral Peak
The class 2 approach (with a few class 3 moves) to the summit begins at the base of the south east ridge, directly above the "upper" and smaller Crystal Lake. The lower section has much loose rock but it soon changes to mostly solid rock with some fun moves. If you arrived via the Crystal Lakes trail, locating the base of the south east ridge is straightforward. If you have travleved via the Monarch Lakes trail, you must first get to the upper Monarch Lake, then acquire the ridge above upper Monarch Lake to obtain the south east ridge of Mineral Peak.
A class 3 approach (with a little class 4) to the summit can be had by climbing the right side of the south/south-west ridge. There are some fun, but relatively easy, obstacles and challenges to be experienced on this route. It makes for a great newby scrambling route with just a little exposure.
Red TapeFor day use, one only has to drive to the TH, park the car, and start walking. In years past this situation has changed, so you would be well advised to phone ahead to double check day use entry fee requirements to Sequoia for the Mineral King area.
Thanks to Dave Daly for this info
Entrance fee for Sequoia National Park is $20 per private vehicle for 7 days, or $5 per person walking in or on bus for 7 days. Back country camping requires a free wilderness permit. Obtain Trail Permit at Mineral King Ranger Station.
Mineral King Ranger Station: On Mineral King Road, 24 miles east of Hwy. 198. Maps, local wilderness permits, first aid, bear canisters. Daily 7am - 3:30pm June through early September. After that, wilderness permits are available on the porch of the station. Call Sequoia National Park at 559-565-3341 and ask for Mineral King Ranger Station.
CampingThere are several car camping locations in Mineral King. Phone the ranger station for use and availability. Also, the Silver City Resort rents cabins for longer stays. here is their contact info.
Camping overnight at either Monarch Lakes or Crystal Lakes is popular, particularly during the later season (July-Oct.).