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Pretty nice hike. Drove up Friday night and slept maybe a mile before the trailhead. The road getting to the trailhead was rougher than I expected. Some decent sized rocks. I saw a sedan at the trailhead so I guess any car could make it, but there was a piece of a broken off skid plate from a car up there too. We left Saturday morning and it took us about 5 hours to get there. It’s mostly shaded and the trail is well defined. Some meadows and flowers. The lakes are very pretty plenty of good campsites. The upper lake reminded me of something out of a fairy tale. It’s small with a tiny island and a single funny looking tree. We stayed the night and made it back in 4.5 hours. Overall it’s a really nice hike!

Really good hike, scenery and foliage was nicer than I expected. Falls were more of a trickle at this time of year, but still lovely. Downhill on the way in, back up to get out. Dogs loved it-- If your dog is not agile they will not be able to get down to the waterfall. We started at 0630 and were back to the car at 0830, didn't see any other people until we were almost back to the car.

backpacking
2 days ago

My attempt at this trail ended with me returning before the lakes. Started late around 2pm and returned to the trail head by 8:30pm for a total of 1900+ feet elevation gain. My fault for not having altitude training before hand.

The trail is well defined and has spectacular views, this trail makes for a very nice swim location and starting point for the Palisades Peak.

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.

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!!

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...

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.

Beautiful hike! The trail is nice in that it has some switch backs that are spread throughout some meandering paths. Lots of water with at least one waterfall and stunning views of Sabrina.

Definitely need to stay hydrated - even though much of the hike is in the trees it is draining. Blue Lake is over 10,000 feet, so be careful if you are not ready for the altitude.

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

hiking
12 days ago

Amazing. AMAZING. Moderately tough hike but not overly difficult. Adjusting to the elevation is probably what makes it hard. Started hike a little after 7am and reached the first and second Lakes around 9:15. The first and second lake are right next to each other. We decided to head back after that and only took us one hour to get down to the trailhead. Pretty quick hike but on the way up we had a steady pace. I recommend starting early (needless to say). It makes going up through the switchbacks way easier when the sun isn’t beating down on you. Weather was perfect. Great visibility for us, however, on the way down smoke from the Ferguson fire was blowing through. 100% recommend this hike :)))) absolutely breathtaking.

Jaw dropping trail. One of the bests I have ever done, but I would start the loop counter clockwise, as to know, from the black lake first, this way the scenery is going to keep been better and better every time as my favourite lakes where the 1st and 2nd lakes.

A beautiful hike that rewards you with solitude at Kearsarge lake. Whatever you do, don’t stop at the pass. Keep going until you reach the lake. It’s definitely worth it!

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!

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.

backpacking
17 days ago

Breathtaking views all around. We camped at the Second Lake and the view of Temple Crag from our tent was everything. There were some mad thunderstorms in the afternoon and we had to hunker down in our tent. But then as the skies opened up, we were greeted by a double rainbow. We will definitely be back very soon!

hiking
17 days ago

Please be aware South Fork Trail is a dangerous place to start from. The trail that leads up from the creek bed is virtually indistinguishable from rock slides and debris washed down from the spring rains. Beyond a trailhead South Fork Trail is unmarked and extremely hard to follow.

Best hike I've been on! The views are absolutely incredible!

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.

Love this trail. Easy to follow. Challenging enough :-)
Beautiful views of the lakes

Unbelievably beautiful. Lakes, waterfalls and views throughout the entire hike. The upper half of the hike was completely covered in snow (early July) so bring a map and know where you are going! The snow was difficult and made the hike long and challenging, however we were able to slide down the side of the mountain on the way down and felt like we were kids again. The views at the top are very rewarding. This hike took us 7 hours with the snow being a major factor. I was wearing tennis shoes and regretted it. Wear water proof boots if you have them. Lots of snacks and water are a must.

-the boosk

backpacking
21 days ago

Best trail we’ve even been on! We went July 15, pretty hot but luckily there’s a creek/ waterfall next to you the entire time. My dog loved getting his dips in to cool off here and there. Wildflowers were blooming this time of year. We set up our tent by lake 2 and enjoyed the most amazing views! By far the best place I’ve visited.

backpacking
21 days ago

The first ~1.5 miles are relatively exposed and hot, but it provides nice views of the river to your left. Then it is into the trees (pine, aspen, birch) that provide tons of shade and beauty. The trail is well traveled, even during the week, with day hikers. Once you get past Second Lake there are fewer folks on the trail. We set up camp at Third Lake and camped a couple of nights. The hike up to Palisades Glacier is well worth the ~3 mile RT. Beautiful views of the glacier and river that drains the valley. We had thundershowers all three days there. But by 6 pm, the skies cleared and we could watch the sunlight off the tall peaks around. First rate Eastern Sierra hike.

Great hike for me and my three boys. Intended to get to Upper but outflow was higher than I wanted. Hiking in soaking shoes and socks would not have been fun. Caught lots of 6-7 brookies on elk hair caddis.

Trailer to the top worth the spectacular view. Can be windy so check the weather report. Trying to time a trip when the air is clear.

Rain and hail so be prepared

Challenging in the heat, but worth it for the views.

This must have been an excellent trail before the fire, but the blaze has changed this area drastically. It destroyed the trees and vegetation (though a surprising amount of greenery has re-emerged) which provided shade and something to look at and appreciate while pushing uphill. However, now it’s just a boring grind under a punishing sun. I can tell this trail once had a lot going for it. Hopefully it will again one day soon.

Awesome walked, loved the scenery and the waterfall was wonderful.

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