#13 of 60 national parks in United States of America

Best lake trails in Sequoia National Park

2,224 Reviews
Explore the most popular lake trails in Sequoia National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of lake trails in Sequoia National Park
Park information
Acreage:
404,063 acres
Contact
559-565-3341
Helpful links
Top trails (32)
#1 - Heather Lake, Emerald Lake, and Pear Lake Trail via Watchtower and Pear Lake Trails
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(620)
Length: 11.8 mi • Est. 6 h 43 m
A short section of the trail that lies past the Watchtower/Hump trail intersection is closed for the winter months annually due to icy conditions and steep cliffs. When it is closed you will need to use the Hump Trail to access Heather, Aster, Emerald, and Pear Lakes. (https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/heather-lake-and-pear-lake-via-hump-trail-winter-route) All the lakes on the trail are beautiful and have fish. Plenty of great camp spots to choose from. Amazing views. Be aware of wildlife and pack out all of your trash. Show more
#2 - Heather Lake via Watchtower Trail
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(229)
Length: 8.1 mi • Est. 4 h 41 m
A short section of the trail that lies past the Watchtower/Hump trail intersection is closed for the winter months annually due to icy conditions and steep cliffs. When it is closed you will need to use the Hump Trail to access Heather, Aster, Emerald, and Pear Lakes. (https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/heather-lake-via-hump-trail-winter-route)Show more
#3 - High Sierra Trail: Crescent Meadow to Whitney Portal
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(122)
Length: 72 mi • Est. Multi-day
Each paragraph below roughly corresponds to a day on the trail, although there are many ways to break up the hike, and day hikes are also possible. 1. The HST begins at Crescent Meadow, or start from the trailhead at Wolverton. The trail climbs along a steep ridge. To the right, the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. To your left, the summit of Alta Peak at 11,000 feet. The 1st camp is at 9-Mile Creek - this creek is not labeled as such, but is referred to as 9-Mile because it is 9 miles in. Or, move on to the next creek crossing (Buck) or to the backpacker camp at Bearpaw Meadow. All three have bear boxes. 2. The second stretch is exposed alpine terrain. From Buck, the trail climbs 600 ft to Bearpaw Meadow. Here is a backpacker's camp. For the next two miles, the trail descends from Bearpaw to Lone Pine Creek. You will find a bridge over a gorge but it's another mile until easy water. There are some campsites throughout. Here you find granite formations like Valhalla and Angel Wings. Eventually you reach Hamilton Lake. Stay here or continue up to Precipice and through Hamilton Gorge. This stretch ends at Precipice Lake. 3. Hike along through a boulder field and past some shallow ponds in an alpine zone. A mile in you'll be standing atop Kaweah Gap, the pass which marks the trail's crossing of the Great Western Divide. 9-Lakes basin is to your left, but to stay on the trail descend to your right into Big Arroyo. The trail descends through Big Arroyo for several miles, eventually meeting a trail junction near an old patrol cabin. There are many campsites scattered. This junction is the beginning of a gradual, hot climb out of Big Arroyo. It is the driest stretch of the trail so fill up on water in the Arroyo. As you climb you'll get views of the southern peaks of the Great Western Divide before entering the forest atop Chagoopa Plateau. Eventually, if you choose the right fork at the trail junction, you'll arrive at Moraine Lake, a great place for a swim and camp. 4. For the first few miles of this stretch you'll get to enjoy easy hiking as the trail winds gradually through the woods with no steep ascents or descents. If you have a sharp eye, keep a lookout for Mount Whitney in the distance. It's not a clear view, but it's the first peek you'll get of the highest point in the lower 48 states, one you'll hopefully be standing on in a few short days. You'll pass the remains of an old sheep herder's cabin and through a forest of burnt tree trunks. Eventually you'll hike along the southeastern edge of Sky Parlor Meadow with an unobstructed view of Mt Kaweah. After joining back together with the other fork of the High Sierra Trail, the long, ~2500 foot descent into the Kern Canyon begins. It starts off moderate but turns into tight, rocky, steep switchbacks. Before the switchbacks, the trail passes through a dense field of ferns - this is where you need to go on rattlesnake alert. They are common here and on the upcoming stretch of trail. 5. Next is a simple and easy stretch at the midpoint of the High Sierra Trail. The trail parallels the Kern River, climbing gradually through the Canyon. You'll have plenty of water access. Approximately eight miles from the Hot Spring you'll reach Junction Meadow, the not-so-cleverly named open space where other the High Sierra Trail meets the trail to Colby Pass and other destinations to the west. There are many campsites at Junction Meadow. From here, the trail follows the right fork of the Kern River and starts to climb. Before too long you'll reach the junction to Wallace Creek. The High Sierra Trail continues to the right with a sign informing you of the short 14.8 miles left until Mount Whitney. There are a few campsites if you continue straight towards Upper Kern Basin. 6. This segment goes a western-approach climb of Mount Whitney: Guitar Lake. This is a stretch that climbs about 3500 feet in ten miles. Upon meeting Wallace Creek (which is far below you), the trail turns to the east until you eventually meet it at the junction with the JMT. About 3.5 miles in the High Sierra Trail meets the John Muir Trail where it crosses Wallace Creek. At the junction there are many campsites. Finally, you'll reach Crabtree Meadow where there is a backcountry ranger station, places to camp, and water access. From here, the trail climbs another ~800 feet in 2.5 miles to Guitar Lake at 11,400 feet. 7. The summit of Whitney is about a 3000 foot climb from Guitar Lake. The first 2.5 miles and 2000 feet switchback up the western side of the ridge until reaching Trail Junction. Here, drop your pack (keep your food protected from marmots!), grab your camera and water, and head to the summit. The summit is another 1000 feet up in about two miles. After summiting, it's about 11 miles and 6000 feet of descent to the trailhead. Back at the Junction, pick up your pack and climb the final small stretch to Trail Crest, then descend the famous 97 switchbacks.Show more
#4 - Twin Lakes Trail
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(127)
Length: 13.1 mi • Est. 7 h 28 m
#5 - High Sierra Trail to Hamilton Lakes
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(58)
Length: 32.2 mi • Est. Multi-day
A long hike to Hamilton Lakes on the High Sierra Trail. Prepare for scenic views from start to finish. The first 11 miles are relatively easy as elevation gain is slow. You descend downhill from 1.5 miles and climb up to the lake the last 1.5 miles. The trip to Hamilton Lakes is part of the High Sierra Trail. You will get a taste of the "high sierra" on your way to a beautiful pristine lake. The full trail is the 3rd most popularly hiked trail and for good reason. A pit toilet is located at Hamilton Lake to keep human wasted concentrated to one area. Camping is available too just below the lake. Prepare for a gorgeous hike with breath taking views. Show more
#6 - Emerald Lake
Sequoia National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(71)
Length: 10.3 mi • Est. 5 h 53 m
#7 - Horseshoe Meadows to Mount Whitney and Whitney Portal Trailhead via New Army Pass
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(31)
Length: 37.6 mi • Est. Multi-day
There a very nice camp site right at Gyuot Creek. There is also a stock camp exactly at the Rock Creek crossing (it is about 1 before Gyuot Creek). Both camps are close to running creeks.Show more
#8 - Nine Lakes Basin Loop Trail
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(11)
Length: 57 mi • Est. Multi-day
#9 - Ranger Lake
Sequoia National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(21)
Length: 21.7 mi • Est. Multi-day
#10 - Horseshoe Meadow Trail
Sequoia National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(10)
Length: 70.9 mi • Est. Multi-day
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