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Strenuous but great! Really beautiful waterfalls

hiking
2 days ago

SO BEAUTIFUL & SO LONG. Make sure you leave pretty early so you can spend more time on the beautiful beach - if you plan on doing the whole loop

BEST dog park in the Bay!

Scott’s review was very useful as it allowed us to prepare ourselves for the height (I have a profound respect for heights, not fear, respect!)

We only hiked to the first lake, taking the watchtower route. We were fine until we hit the cliffs... (everyone else was fine there too, I was the one who clung to the walls and was focused on making it through.). The tough part is about 400m long with some seriously scary spots..

The way back was through the hump route.

Our children joined 20, 16 and 13. Trail was beautiful and demanding. We swam at the lake then hiked down.
Recommended for sure.

Great loop and a good challenge on the incline of you’re running. I go here regularly with my dog. If you don’t want to hike the full 6 miles you can go for a nice walk and turn around whenever you feel like. Trail goes along the creek and there’s no incline for the first mile.

Near the top is where the poison oak gets REALLY BAD, to the point where you can’t avoid even if you walk slowly and sideways. Wear pants/bring a long sleeve.

Very challenging and fun hike. It’s very steep early on heading up Priest and also very exposed. I started around 8:30am and it was pretty warm by 9:30. Wonderful views near the top and Linekiln on the way back down was a nice change with a little more shade. Loved the elevation change on this hike. Light traffic on a Saturday, very nice.

Absolutely spectacular! Probably the best day hike I’ve ever been on! This trail has it all! We hit the trailhead at 0715 and had it all to ourselves! We went out to Heather Lake via Watchtower and back using the Hump Trail. The views on Watchtower are breathtaking! If you’re scared of heights this is NOT the trail for you! The edge of the trail drops off precipitously to say the least! I jumped out of planes in the Army and still found myself hugging the wall! Watchtower is the easiest way to get out to the lakes (side-hilling). Heather Lake is amazing. Crystal clear water and the trout breaching for insects is a spectacle in itself. We opted to return to the trailhead via The Hump Trail. The elevation gain on the Hump Trail is no joke. The views from the top are amazing. Going back we must have seen 30 or more hikers. Some more prepared than others. Go early and enjoy nature!!

Beautiful hike! First gain is a challenge but the view at the top is well worth it. Stopped there for lunch then ventured on toward the Dick’s Lake and Fontanillis Lake round about and up to middle Velma. Set up camp and ate dinner at dusk. Photographs because my credit card background. Mosquitoes were a nightmare (4th of July weekend) and the trails were a bit more congested on the descent with lots of day hikers.

Agree with Chris S. Did this when it was closed today. Had to literally crawl through branches at some points but was doable (I'm 6ft and was wearing a backpack). Very much worth the scratches.

This was by far the most wonderful hike ive ever done. Challenging though,but will give you the best legs workout. Although i didnt get to see the emerald and pear, heather was just so beautiful. The water is perfect for a quick dip, and surprisingly is not that cold!

Perfect day hike! All the best of the sierras. My hubby and daughter stopped at heather to fish for trout and hang out, while my 11 year old son and I went ahead to pear. Lakes are all beautiful and varied but pear takes the cake. Granite surrounds above the tree line and crystal blue green water for a refreshing dip. We started hiking at 7:30 and we’re back in the car by 3:30. Steep climb most of the way, and amazing and slightly scary views from watchtower...

hiking
9 days ago

Pretty hike but little challenge. Same but nice view of the Pacific Ocean the entire way. Take care for poison oak and you may need to bush wack a touch. We did see the trail maintenance crew out to start cleaning it up which was relieving for future hikers.

A real California Adventure! Personally would recommend staying two nights at Emerald and day hiking the hour to Pear Lake. Although Pear Lake does feel more isolated. Watchtower Trail is awesome as long as you're sure footed and not afraid of heights.

I completed this hike on August 4th and it was AMAZING!!! The forest in the beginning was nice and shaded and got some good views. The Watchtower is spectacular!! You walk on the ridge line and catch some epic views of the peaks across the way. Heather and Emerald Lake were beautiful but Pear Lake takes the cake. We jumped in and swam a little bit and enjoyed the sunny weather.
Side note: The trailhead said it was 6.2 to Pear Lake so in and back would be 12.4 miles.

Did counterclockwise. Highlight is the alpine lake. Pristine and not even a single soul nearby as I hiked this in the evening. I had a constant fear of mountain lion as there is a sign which said "avoid hiking alone". Nevertheless, found lot of people near cataract falls. Moderate hike.

Great trail, long but not too hard for us, we went anti-clockwise.There is not too much water at the fall but the lake is nice to have a meal break. There are several restrooms at picnic area along on the trail. We started at 9 am and completed at 1:30 pm. Dog, Cat, Crocodile friendly, not so much bugs or mosquitoes. Go early and park your car under big tree. I am kidding about the crocodile anyway.

Awesome views, and the Lakes are wonderful. Very tough hike. Recommend going via watchtower and return via hump trail.

hiking
11 days ago

Great hike. Amazing views. The beach is a plus, secluded not too crowded and with pink sand!!! Not an easy one but keep with it.... yes poison ivy, be careful. Do it clockwise, easier.

hiking
14 days ago

Great hike! Stunning views. Loved every minute of it. Would do ridge side first as it gets hot and the bluff side is much cooler with the breeze. Would wear pants as it’s a bit overgrown at parts.

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful trail. We did it in about 7 hours with 45 minutes at the top. The heat definitely got to us as well as the last couple miles. The views were still spectacular even though it was smoky. Stay Hydrated out there!

walking
17 days ago

Very fun trail, a lot to see, especially the hang gliders. Not strenuous, good for a walk in most weather.

Just did this trail a few days ago. We hit the trailhead around noon on a Wednesday and boy was it hot! I was coming off a tough few days of work and starting out in 85 degree heat was not the ideal way to do this continuously uphill climb. It was very strenuous BUT... it was worth it. The lakes themselves are spectacular. Next time, we'll spend the night somewhere close by and start up early morning - way better to actually enjoy the hike.

We camped at Emerald Lake the first night and Pear lake the 2nd night. Emerald lake actually has the better campsites, and next time we'll spend two nights at Emerald lake and just day hike up to Pear Lake.

Also, the best lake to swim in was definitely Heather Lake, the first of the lakes. It's a little smaller, and thus was warmer than both Pear and Emerald Lake. We didn't try Astor Lake (next time!)

Beware the marmots at Pear Lake! We tried to set up at one of the campsites, but there was a marmot who was clearly not happy with us being in his home. We switched campsites and later found that that same marmot had been snatching clothes left out at a neighboring campsite!

hiking
17 days ago

We did the clockwise direction on a Saturday in July, and the trail was great! The initial climb was strenuous, but it wasn't too bad after that. We enjoyed being rewarded with the Spring Trail to the beach at about the halfway point. As others have noted, there is quite a bit of Poison Oak, so keep an eye out for that. We thought it might be more crowded, but we did not encounter that many other hikers, even on the beach. If you time it right and hit low tide, you may be able to hike bike along the beach all the way back. We were not able to do the beac hike.

Just got back from doing this trip this weekend. It was incredible! My first backpacking trip, and I loved every minute of it. The scenery and views are abundant stunning. The wildlife is beautiful - I was yelled at by a bear! The water in Pear and Emerald Lakes was so refreshing. Emerald’s water was a bit warmer, and I jumped off my first rock! =) Would totally recommend this trail. I can’t wait to go back and bring some friends next time.

Must have permit to camp - walk up only at Lodgepole. We slept in the parking lot Thursday night, and were standing in line behind 3 others before the Visitor’s Center opened. We got the last 2/3 permits.

Must have a bear canister. Pack out everything. Leave it better than you found it.

hiking
17 days ago

This is a very scenic short trail system suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit. The trail requires scrambling over and under logs in a few places and crosses a steam multiple times with makeshift log and stone crossing points. We went at end of July and water was low enough that you could cross without getting feet wet. The trail is through second growth redwood forest and is shaded and very cool the entire time. Great for a break on a hot day. The waterfall is worth seeing, though not spectacular. The abandoned lime kiln is cool. Our three children 12, 14, and 22 enjoyed it and our eldest did a ton of off trail scrambling on the rocks and fallen logs. Trailhead is at the far end of camping area, walk past everyone, there are a small number of day use parking spaces for $10 fee. If it’s full there is parking on side of road above. At the opposite end of camping area there is a small sand beach and rocky area where the creek empties into the ocean. Cross a wooden bridge and walk under the bridge. That is also super cool and worth a visit. The water is freezing but nice to splash around. Bring trunks and water shoes.

hiking
18 days ago

Came across a juvenile bear and later on bear scat directly on the trail. (Panther Gap). Beautiful trail!

Yet to see a hang glider land

I like this trail except way too many bicycles and loud talkers (both hikers and bikers). Not a great place to go if you want solitude. Even with the smoke in the air, it didn't keep people away.

I enjoyed the variety of trails on this loop. I was huffing and puffing a bit on the way up to the top of Black Mountain. I wished there hadn't been so much smoke in the air as there was very little to see at the top. It did make me pause and be grateful for areas that are still alive with vegetation and not burned.

This area fooled me into thinking it would be cooler than the east bay. WRONG! It was a warm hike towards the end. Make sure to bring plenty of water and a good sun hat as a lot of the trail after mid way is exposed. I went through almost 2.5L of water on the hike today.

This is a bit of a drive to get to for me, so I'll probably not do it again. If I do, I will do it in the fall/winter/spring when there is no smoke in the air and the land is green.

A beautiful hike without question. You start by hiking through a pleasant forest until you reach the Watchtower where you finally get above the tree line and get some views. The trail can perhaps be a bit a bit scary if you're afraid of heights but I didn't think there were any tricky bits at all. That said, if you want to avoid hiking on trails that have sheer drops, use the "Hump Trail" to bypass the Watchtower section completely. Or you can use the Hump Trail on the way back so as not to retrace your steps completely. Mosquitoes can get pretty annoying, especially around the lakes, so make sure you carry a bug spray.
Overall, this is a lovely hike that will take a better part of a day but I probably wouldn't really consider it as hard. Definitely recommended.
As for wildlife, we saw plenty of yellow-bellied marmots and heard some grouse but never saw them.

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