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If you’re considering it, go for it! If you can make it to Heather Lake with plenty of energy, you’ve competed most of the elevation climb so consider continuing to Emerald and Pear Lakes. All 3 are rather different in their view/surroundings.

Best part of this hike is the return trip out is mostly all downhill! Pit toilets are at both Emerald and Pear Lakes.

Note that the Watch Tower Trail has a sign after Oct. 15(?) that says it’s closed due to winter weather. This may not realllllly be accurate if the weather is great. There definitely wasn’t any snow when I took the trail on Nov 2nd — it was in the 60’s. So I waited at the intersection of the Watch Tower Trail and the other trail until a group came down the Watch Tower Trail and confirmed the conditions were perfect and there’s no reason not to take that option. Traffic on the Watch Tower Trail was reasonable — I’d pass someone/a group heading down about every 5 minutes once I hit the Watch Tower part of the trail.

A few spots on the trail are narrow with a notable steep drop off to one side, but it wasn’t enough to concern me (I’m fairly afraid of heights ). Just bringing that up since others mentioned it in other reviews.

Also note: the first few miles (and thus the last few miles) of the trail are dense forest, so be mindful that when it nears sunset the trail will get much darker earlier than you may anticipate. Pack flashlights/etc. accordingly if you may wrap up this trail in the late afternoon/early evening.

Great hike up. Was disappointed that there was not a good view into the next basin. The last steep part was the most lovingly cared for trail I have seen in years.

The day hike was amazing! We went on Veteran’s Day and took the hump trail because the watchtower trail was closed for the season. Although people prefer the watchtower, the hump was tiring, yet still amazing. We got to see a family of deer along the trail and enjoyed the scenery.
If you do a day hike around this time of year, I recommend leaving pear lake by 2:30 to get to your car by sundown.

Challenging but great hike!

backpacking
5 days ago

Four of us did this as a backpacking overnight this weekend, and for 3 of us it was our first time backpacking. We made it to the 2nd lake in 4 1/2 hours with packs and lots of breaks (we are in average shape.. only some of us hike regularly).
This trail was challenging and rewarding for a first time hiking with 20+ lb bags (we only hiked to the 2nd lake to camp and explored a few more lakes the next day). The trail is a very steady incline with some big stone steps here and there, but with trekking poles it was doable, even at altitude (I would describe it as "challenging" but far from "brutal"). What was somewhat brutal was camping in below 15 degrees ( my thermometer read closer to 10 than 15 at one point in the evening). Sleeping in the cold was not fun, but the sun really warmed us up in the morning.
On Saturday morning there was smoke from a forest fire which made the visibility poor, which was a bit discouraging, but we decided to go for it anyway. To the guy who said to us "Have fun breathing in smoke all night"... just so you know the wind came through and blew out all of the smoke that afternoon. We had perfectly clear weather that night and the next day.

Incredible hike. DO NOT TAKE OLD ARMY PASS! It is not mainted at all. Take new army pass and then follow the cairns to the summit

Did this as a 2 day 1 night backpacking trip 9/30/18. Pear lake was very crowded, probably because it was the first weekend of the non-quota period. Still a BEAUTIFUL hike. Highly recommended!

hiking
7 days ago

Very hard. My first high summit. I found it very steep and hard to breathe at the top and I am in good shape. The views are not great but worth doing. I liked the views about halfway up the hike better. Overall it took us about 12 hours and 22 miles. Worth doing for sure.

Side note:

Old army pass is safe. Our group mistaked old army pass for the break between the two mountains by the last lake when you reach 3 or 4 lakes in a few minutes. I absolutely do not recommend going up this. Take the real trail on old army pass and you will be safe. I was absolutely terrified. Rocks came sliding down and the sand was unstable on what may seem like a very steep trail but it is not a trail.

hiking
7 days ago

Warning: if you’re out of shape. Beginner hiker. Please be prepared. Allow yourself and your group plenty of time to reach the lakes before it starts getting dark. This trail is hard for beginners like myself. I started off the trail at 630am. It took my group almost 5 and a half hours to get to the first lake. The second lake is just a short distance away. Maybe 10-15mins after the first lake. The views are amazing! Well worth the pain coming up and going down. It took 3 and a half hours to get back to the parking lot from the second lake.

Beautiful trail the entire way!

hiking
9 days ago

Completed as a day hike 10/31/2018. Took about 6 hours up and 4.5 hours down. (avid and fit hiker, filtering breaks only) As the previous review stated, there was no snow on NAP. There was patchy snow on OAP between the last lake and the top of the pass. I had spikes ready to go but didn't use them. While an easier hike overall, the last mile of this trail before the summit is harder than any one single mile of the Mount Whitney Trail. I'll type up a proper review soon.

Incredible hike and views!! Highly recommend. Be sure to take note of your turns and trailheads, as there are a lot of offshoot trails and it could be easy to take the wrong path on the way back!

Started our hike on 11/2/18, did 2 days, 3 nights. First day, we started at Wolverton trail head and went to Pear lake. The weather was sunny and 60 degrees, but if you werent in the sun... man it was cold. The temperature the first night dropped to just above freezing; I would recommend many layers for sleeping. The next day, we summited Alta Peak. Technically there is a trail to the peak, but it would have 20 miles round trip. Instead we scrambled up the north face of Pear Lake to get the peak. I wouldn't necessarily say this route as there was a lot of scrambling and rock jumping, but near the top, we could definitely see some foot prints and slightly defined trails of other people aka others have done the same. All in all, would definitely recommend! I wouldn't say it is a "hard" trail because the trail was well maintained and easy to hike on, but the altitude definitely stressed the lungs so be careful!

We hiked this on 10/5/18. It was 40F at 0830 when we started and it was sunny to start. We played leap frog with another couple all the way up to pear lake, but other than that we only ever saw anyone else on the return trip. The trail rises steadily from the trailhead and is pleasant enough through the forest until you get to the watchtower, which is really just an outcropping of rock overlooking a canyon. Spectacular views from there up to heather lake. Unfortunately, a cloud bank followed us up the valley so the views back down the valley were shrouded in fog, but the views up the valley were awesome. We missed emerald Lake thinking aster lake was emerald lake, but all 3 lakes we saw were nice in their own way. Pear lake was the best in terms of scenery made better due to the effort it took to get there. We took hump trail on the return due to the watchtower being covered in fog and it certainly lived up to its name. However, even though it was downhill most of the way, it was much more difficult due to the stress it placed on my knees. Overall, it was the best hike we did in either park. Highly recommend it

on Parker Lake Trail

hiking
16 days ago

Fairly easy hike with a beautiful small lake at the end

hiking
19 days ago

Did all seven Lakes in one day, kind along but definitely worth it. The 1st mile or so it’s kind of cool but after you make that first thousand foot climb and hit the first lake the scenery is amazing. My favorite is fourth lake as it just kind of comes up on you thru a shirt spur off the main trail. Temple Crag is obviously the sight to see. Will def come back and head the Glacier Lake trail.

hiking
20 days ago

I hiked it in a day on 10/27/2018, taking about 13 hours car to car - I hiked via New Army Pass and saw no snow on the trail - there did not appear to be snow on Old Army Pass either. The hike was long and difficult but the views were beautiful. Make sure to bring plenty of food, water, layers, and willpower.

backpacking
21 days ago

Unreal view of temple crag at second lake. Best backpacking trip to date

Starts in the desert and progressively climbs into the mountains. There's some stunning views early on but the real rewards come when you start hitting the lakes. Lake 2 in particular is absolutely incredible. Temple Crag is one of the most breathtaking sights I've ever seen.

Found GoPro on this trail today, Saturday October, 27. Contact me if it yours.
Trail is great, i would rate it Moderate comparing to Kearsarge pass for example. You probably have another week to catch the fall colors. Winter is coming...

We did this day hike 2 weeks ago and I have to say it’s one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. We did the loop passing by Lakes 1-4 and Black lake. Didn’t get to Lakes 5-7 and Palisades glacier since that’s another day hike. Started the hike at 9am, arrived at Lake 1 at 1pm, had a 30 minute lunch break at Lake 2 and moved on to Lakes 3, 4 and Black Lake. Had a bit of altitude sickness (lightheaded and headaches) as we descended from Lake 4. It was dark by the time we arrived at the trailhead by 7pm, so glad that I downloaded the maps since it helped a lot tracking our progress as we headed back to the trailhead in the dark. You do have to take your time with this hike since there’s spectacular scenery everywhere, especially Lakes 1 and 2, Temple Crag, Big Pine Creek, aspen groves along the way and lots of deer sightings along the way. Doing the loop on our way back also gave as another glimpse of Lakes 1 and 2 from the trail on the canyons above. I will definitely do this trail again in a heartbeat to see the rest of the lakes and the glacier!

It was another awesome trek to the top the scree is perfect and seeing both monarch lake and the entire Sierra mountains are so wonderful Mineral King is a fantastic valley and mountain getaway thank you to all that make the Sierra mountains the perfect place to call our home mountain range

Beautiful hike! Last minute trip and decided I’d check out sequoia. Found this hike based of the reviews and everyone on here didn’t lie. Definitely recommend doing this one. The hike itself isn’t too bad. For some reason I recorded the mileage I little higher to around 13 miles but I’m sure my phones step counter can be off. Hiked to pear lake and back in 6.5 hours.

Backpacked and camped out at Emerald. There were a ton of mosquitoes at our camp, but we had bug repellent. Beautiful hike beautiful lakes.

hiking
28 days ago

Day Hike: Beautiful Scenery all around and unexpected on the stamina you really need to make it through the hike. It was 4 of us, we are active and work out except for one who recently started getting active .However, we had the trail challenging us from the beginning until we enter the canyon where the challenge became tougher. We started the hike at 8 am. The elevation rise as we hike and climb higher ofcourse and tougher it got, but we were still able to manage and continue through . We took about 5 breaks of 5minutes in total . I believe it took us 2 hrs and half to make it to the first lake . Then, second lake about 10 minutes or so. My heart rate as an active individual was between 150 to 165 almost the entire hike . Burned 1500 calories plus. The descend was the best because everything from there was a piece a cake . We left the second lake around 1:00 pm and came across a lot of backpackers, day hikers, fishers, and backpackers who were just arriving as we were leaving . You will come across a few people later on the day. I do not recommend people who have health problems to do this trail . I will say if you are not active prepare to me challenge mentally and physically . And for those who want to encourage friends who do not do any hikes or anything whatsoever. Prepare to take plenty of lakes . Overall beautiful .

hiking
1 month ago

Like others have mentioned, the beginning of this hike is a little steep, but isn’t too bad. I haven’t hiked in a year and was able to hike the incline in the beginning just fine while carrying my newborn in the baby carrier. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the lake. In my opinion the Mountain View and the creek that you hike along are much more beautiful than the lake itself. With that being said, the lake does look pretty good during sunset.

hiking
1 month ago

My fiancé and I went yesterday! It was absolutely breathtaking! We also brought our 3 month old daughter with us in a baby carrier so the hike was a little bit difficult but definitely worth it! Started the hike around 1100 and ended up at the lake around 230 ish and took us a little less the 3 hours to get back down. Beyond beautiful!

Beautiful views and well worth the climb. Lakes are beautiful, and what you see in the pictures is what you see in real life. I want to go back and hike to the glacier one day.

Speechless. Exactly how it left us. Big Pine Lakes is absolutely breathtaking. By far one of the most beautiful places we’ve hiked. The trail is rated moderate but I will be honest when I say that this trail is more on the difficult end. Just my opinion. The hike is mostly incline and over 5-6 miles to the first lake. Completely worth it though. Very doable and many stop areas along the way. We saw deer and the fall leaves. Not to mention the beautiful scenery. We only went to lake two and it took us a total of 6hrs. We also stopped and took pictures in many places so that’s why it took a bit longer.

Wonderful day hike! You get a real mixed bag of views. The lakes and peaks are amazing! The trail is in great shape. It is getting cold (26 at 7:30am) and there is a small amount of ice on the upper switch backs but very doable. And hitting the pass is well worth the work!!

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