Heather Lake, Emerald Lake, and Pear Lake

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Sequoia National Park

Heather Lake, Emerald Lake, and Pear Lake is a 12.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Three Rivers, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from June until October.

Length12.3 miElevation gain2,936 ftRoute typeOut & back
BackpackingCampingHikingForestLakeViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeBugsRockyFeeNo dogs
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Getting There

FIRE CLOSURE: As of March 2021 there are closures in this park or area due to wildfire. For more information, please visit https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/conditions.htm. Sequoia National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are $35 per vehicle or $30 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot or bike the fee is $20 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $70. The Lakes Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Sequoia National Park. The route on this page has you take the Lakes Trail eastward to three striking alpine lakes. This challenging hike will test you, but the payoff is worth it. If the weather is right, make sure to bring some swimming clothes! Start at the parking area at the end of Wolverton Road. There is ample parking here, restrooms, picnic tables, and informational signs. Although most hikers choose to do this as a day hike, with permits this can be made into an overnight trip. There are campsites and pit toilets at both Emerald and Pear Lakes. The Watchtower Trail has some sections with steep drop-offs to one side. If you’re afraid of heights, this section may be difficult for you. A short section of the trail past the Watchtower Trail/Hump Trail intersection is closed annually during winter due to icy conditions and steep cliffs. When it's closed you will need to use the Hump Trail to access Heather, Aster, Emerald, and Pear Lakes. That route can be found on AllTrails here: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/heather-lake-and-pear-lake-via-hump-trail-winter-route

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

Directions from Big Stump Entrance: Follow Highway 180 northward to Generals Highway. Turn right on to Generals Highway and follow it approximately 27 miles to the turn off for Wolverton. Turn left and drive two miles to the trailhead.

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Daylight
Reviews (658)
Photos (1,210)
Activities (462)
Completed (1,407)
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Valerie Soto
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HikingGreat!Snow

Amazing hike, very snowy and very tiring but so worth it! Beautiful winter wonderland experience. We went on Dec. 18th and there was lots of fresh snow from the previous snow fall! Trail was not busy with people, very quite and felt like we had the trail to ourselves. Easy to follow (remember to look at the yellow trail markers on the trees). Watchtower closed for winter.. but you can still choose to go, not recommended. I definitely recommend snow boots and warm layers. You’ll break a sweat but you’ll get cold fast, especially stopping in the shade. If you can I also recommend buying or renting gators for your boots so snow doesn’t get in your shoes! Enjoy this Beautiful trail!

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joe pal
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Hiking

Overnight trip to Emerald Lake was amazing. Fresh snow from the 2 days prior made the hike memorable. Snow shoes were not needed until you started the decent towards the lakes. The snow got deeper and post holing was unavoidable without snow shoes. We had the lakes to ourselves as it was well below freezing (last temp was 5 degrees at 5:00 pm). We didnt get direct sun until 9:30am as Emerald Lake is surrounded by large cliffs. Breath taking. Notes: Compost toilets were open but no more sawdust to backfill. Bear box was easily found in the designated tent areas.

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Jäger James Son
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Hiking

Fantastic views along the Watchtower route - the lakes are stunning

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Gabriel Rodriguez
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We started at Wolverton trailhead. Beautiful peaceful walk, windy that day so the sounds of crashing limbs falling to the floor added to the sounds of nature. We took the Hump trail as the watchtower trail was closed due to snow and ice on the trail. I’d give it a challenge scale of 4 on a scale of 1-5. Arrival to Heather lake was as beautiful as expected, but with a surprise of a frozen lake. We sat quietly and had lunch. Then we heard sounds that could not identify. A frequency I’ve only heard standing next to train tracks when the train was coming. Sounded as if it was coming from the stone and granite covered hillsides. When you arrive, if as lucky as we were”alone”, sit quietly and listen .

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Prasad Shivanna
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HikingClosedIcySnow

The trail was beautiful, icy patches in few places after the hump trail until the pear lake and slippery. DO NOT take the watchtower trail, the trail is manageable until you reach the watchtower and lot icy past that.

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Josie D'Amico
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HikingIcySnow

The hump trail is a never ending slow incline. Not very scenic. Heather lake is beautiful but chilly. We took the watchtower trail down which made the hike up worth it. We didn’t have cramp ons but we were able to navigate down the icy trail slowly with hiking boots and poles. Cramp ons definitely would have helped but it’s not impossible without.

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Taylor McConnaughey
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HikingIcySnow

There is substantial ice between the hump/watchtower turn off and heather lake. Be careful and be prepared to walk on ice. We took the hump trail both ways. Signs did indicate that the watchtower is closed due to ice! I wouldn’t risk it

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Ani Mishra
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HikingGreat!IcySnow

Absolutely loved it. Length is around 12.6 mi and it took me around 8 hrs (4.5 hrs up + 0.5 hrs break + 3 hrs down) to complete. Lots of icy parts so I recommend bringing traction cleats for shoes. Initial 3mi are through the forest and are somewhat monotonous, however what follows is absolutely gorgeous and makes it worthwhile. I took the hump trail up and watchtower trail down. Don't attempt the watchtower trail unless you have traction gear and have hiked on ice before. Portion between the watchtower and Heather lake is a narrow ice packed trail exposed to the trench. Only saw 2 humans for the entirety of the trail. Also saw a deer and an elk. There's a toilet between Heather lake and Emerald lake.

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Andre Pina
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Hiking

Great trail! Moderate challenge. Very tricky with the hard packed snow. Very slippery in some areas, BE CAREFUL! And DO NOT attempt the watchtower trail... it is covered with snow and very very hard to navigate... stick to the hump trail. Overall this trail is one of my favorite in sequoia.

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Matija Trenkovic
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Hiking
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Nathalie Cruz
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Hiking
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Susanne Mitschke
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I love this trail! It’s my favorite hike on Sequoia NP and even though it’s strenuous, it’s doable as a day hike. Watchtower Trail is simply beautiful and breathtaking. 100% recommend.

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Phuong Tran
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Hiking
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Daisy Chung
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Hiking

Nice trail with good view on top

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Ryan D
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Hiking

Stayed a night at pear lake. No other campers, we went on a weekday. Pretty plain hike until the watchtower, then its absolutely beautiful the rest of the way. Its a tough hike, so be tough. It's also very cold once the sun goes down in the fall, fires aren't allowed so bring appropriate gear. Temps got into the low 30s for us.

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David Takacs
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Hiking

Needs more birds and pikas. A bear would be nice

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Michelle Choy
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BackpackingGreat!Rocky

We spent two nights at emerald lake, and did a day trip to Pear lake. There were bear lockers at emerald and at the beginning at the trail head. There are pit toilets at both lakes. We went oct 23-25 and the campsites at both lakes were busy. Did not encounter any mosquitoes. Gorgeous views!

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Joseph Kwon
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Hiking
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Liz Grabowski
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Hiking

Stunning

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Niko Kingi
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Hiking
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Adam Mourad
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HikingGreat!

it was very beautiful you get to see these massive cliffs that drop off trees or pretty nice but toward the end they become pretty staggered you get a nice tree covering and it's a mix of different types of trails dirt, Rocky and gravel. it's nice that you can stop and have lunch at the first lake and then go on all the way to the last there's bathrooms at the last two lakes

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Lourdes Fernandez
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Hiking
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