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great hike but next time i would skip 1/2 of it after thunder mountain not much to see i would go to thunder mountain N back the go to the last mile an a half where thete are cool views can't wait till wild flower season

did this trail in October great hike good workout when i do again i will probably skip 4th of July trail its all down hill after doing this round top peak its a little much i would do that on a different day

off road driving
7 days ago

Came up with my brother in law and his two kids. Both rigs are stock 1st and 3rd gen 4runners. Made it to lookout without issues. Had a good snack and then headed to court right to camp.

12 days ago

I did this trail November 25th 2018 started at lodgepole campground and when all the way up to Twin Lakes. I had always intended to make it a single day hike and by the time I got the Twin Lakes my legs were pretty pumped out so I didn't go up to the summit. Besides the root was covered in icy snow and I didn't have any crampons and didn't want to risk it.

I passed two sets of hikers coming down from Twin Lakes and one lady who passed me on the way up. by the time I got to Twin Lakes she had already visited probably ate her lunch and was on the way down. she was probably in her mid 20's and I'm twenty years older but in good shape for my age. it took me 3.5 hours to make it up.

because there is a 2in layer of fresh snow I could tell that nobody had attempted to go to the summit, at least not since thanksgiving day when it last snowed.

the views from the lake are beautiful but the tree line is high enough that you cannot see much of the surrounding territory. I agree with other reviewers that to get the best out of this hike you should try to scale at least part way up the summit wall.

the trail is very well-marked but as with all trails when snow covers the ground that's hard to follow. my Samsung Galaxy was able to hold a GPS signal the whole way and so alltrails was able to record my progress. I always find that very useful since it's easy to lose trails and the alltrails topo maps are great for finding your exact position at any given time using the GPS on your phone. course correction is a breeze that way.

Tried to drive up to the trailhead but recent snow will make it difficult to drive past the winter closure gate (45-60 min south of the peak trailhead). Follow the road from the winter closure gate and my tracks in the snow and you can do the Shulman Cove Discovery Loop for a 5.5 mile round trip instead if you wish!

this is a great trail!!! I was able to do the whole loop in about 4.5 hours. I took time to take in the scenery and have lunch also. this is a great day hike.

19 days ago

Scenery is beautiful, gets a little tougher when you’re strolling through snow.

21 days ago

Did my first backpacking trip here. Excellent trail with great views and spots to stay at for the night. A couple of the spots, including by the lake, even have bear lockers, which was a nice touch. The campground by the lake also had a pit toilet. I went in mid-November and it was quite cold (low 20’s at night) so pack wisely.

trail head visibly marked ,sad to say valley air terrible due to wildfires. Family and I came up from nearby Hanford to take day hike, enjoyed it very much, trail easy to hike maintained as a trail could be as always trip hazards one in particular was a steel post for embankment reinforcements was protruding up out of ground at a trail corner cutback. EOL the falls well worth hike falls were running well had lunch took a little nap headed back, traffic light on trail encountered 1 family on trail and at falls another couple showed up. anyway a great way to enjoy nature

24 days ago

trail head was visibly marked sad to say valley air was terrible due to wildfires. Trail itself was easy to hike temps were excellent, 70ish traffic real light 1 other fasmily on trail end result were the falls they were running well had lunch and a little nap headed back nice day hike.

This was a beautiful hike to Heather Lake. Trailer is well maintained, and smooth. We took the Hump Trail to Heather Lake as the sign stated the Watchtower was closed due to snow and ice, even though we knew there was none of that this day. This part is beautiful, but steep. Very Picturesque at the Lake. Returned via the Watchtower, and can see why this would be closed in the winter. I am not a fan of heights, but this trail although has steep drop offs, it wide enough to allow even the heights challenged to pass. Recommend the Watchtower trail for the scenic outlooks that are just magnificent!

This trail is definitely on our do do list to continue further to Pear Lake and Beyond.

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.

This was an amazing hike. Started at 7:30am with a 34 degree air temp, no wind. Moving time to the summit was just over 2 hours. Once you pass a trail junction near the summit that says .5 miles, there will be a Y in the trail. If you follow the map, you will be taking the left trail. This will add .8 miles to your hike and take you through some very gnarly terrain before reaching the summit. If you take the right trail, which is not on the map, it is a more direct route to the summit, not as gnarly, and shaves .8 miles off your hike. I'd say this hike is easy to moderate. Just enough to get the blood flowing good at times but very pleasant and a great warm up hike. The hike to the summit and back can range from 7.6 to 9.2 miles depending on if you take that short cut or not. Well worth the effort indeed!

Great hike, the rock scramble by the waterfall is terrible. Once you get through it evens out a lot and is so much better.

On the way down you can crab walk or butt scoot next to the waterfall for the first portion. Its a little dangerous and I only recommend it for advanced hikers. You get down a lot faster and its so much more fun than the rock scramble. Be safe and watch out for smooth granite. This hike is great and is really pretty. Goodluck and have fun!

You’ll definitely loose the trail a bit. Great swimming holes to explore near Ropi.

Super fun hike with my mom, my 8 year old, and carrying my 4 month old. We went only about 1.8 in before turning back. I didn’t know what to expect with the “falls” and found it to be jaw dropping. Look for trail markers on trees to stay on trail. Beautiful views of lake as well.

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!

1 month ago

Great hike! I did this in mid-April and had no problem with insects and the weather was ideal. Finding the trailhead was a little challenging and I’m glad I had a Jeep...I used 4WD to get to the trailhead. It’s near a giant pile of boulders. The trail itself is very difficult and will take longer than you think to get to the top. The last mile includes some very steep sections in skree so be prepared. The view on top is fantastic and makes the hike worth it. The southern sierras are beautiful. Bring lots of water!

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!

1 month ago

This was a very challenging hike all trails has it at 7 1/2 it’s closer to 10. There is a choice to make either to go to Tamarack Lake or head up to Loop, Trail it was a very fun hike lots of use. Admittedly in some areas I was lost all trails seemed to be lost as well.Fortunately we ran into a few other hikers and we lead the way down I would not recommend this hike if you were not in hiking shape we made it but nothing like no other choice lots of loose gravel and very dangerous areas once again a great hike we loved it had a great time again very challenging and it’s some parts very dangerous.

off road driving
1 month ago

Definitely one of my favorite trails! Thank you Hi-Landers 4wd Club for all the hard work you do to maintain this trail every year!

went counter clockwise on the loop and definitely recommend having a GPS locator and offline maps so you can keep on the right trail. we made mistake of following some hot pink flags up when we got on the loop section which takes you too far left. maybe that is another trail but we managed to find our way back to the right trail with our GPS. tough but fun if you like a challenge. hot on a good section of the trail and did not see any reliable water sources so would recommend extra water on a hot/sunny day. some fun rock scrambles so make sure you are in shape for a little climbing in areas. recommend layers, as with most mountains the peak was windy and a bit chilly. exhausted at end but such a beautiful hike!!!

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

Typed ‘Thunder Mountain Trailhead’ on google maps and it led the way. Pay attention about 300 yards up, it’s a quick turn out. You’ll know you got it when you see the large trail head sign with map at the back of the parking area. This is a well marked trail that we took our little dog on. Carried him over the sharper rocks but it was a nice hike. Got the heat rate up at times and you really experience a wide range of conditions and terrain.

Great hike overall, steep incline when climbing back up from Fourth of July Lake. Favorite part is Round Top Lake - gorgeous!

The official trail dies out about 2.5 miles in, but many different use trails can be followed pretty much to the top. As a day hike, this is a pretty tough one! The summit block seems to be about a class 3, but the views are sensational. Route finding skills and a high level of fitness required, it’s a lot of elevation gain to the summit!

We did this trail mid October and the fall colors were spectacular! There were spots where the trial was not so clear, the sights were surely worth it. The falls and swimming holes looked so inviting and beautiful. I would suggest just keeping your eyes open for rock stacking, ribbon, and tree markers if you choose to do this hike.

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

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