Heather Lake, Emerald Lake, and Pear Lake Trail via Watchtower and Pear Lake Trails

HARD 148 reviews
#2 of 93 trails in

Heather Lake, Emerald Lake, and Pear Lake Trail via Watchtower and Pear Lake Trails is a 11.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Red Fir, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.

DISTANCE
11.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2913 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

snow

no dogs

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. This 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.

2 days ago

Amazing trail. Only bad thing is, lots of anoying mosquitos.

backpacking
6 days ago

Great views and very relaxing lakes. We were told by the ranger that the Watchtower trail is closed so we hiked the Hump trail. If you don't have permit beforehand try to get to Lodgepole visitor center early morning to secure a spot at Pear Lake. We stayed the night at Emerald Lake and it had two bear box in case you don't want to carry a bear canister. Take mosquito repellent for sure!!

backpacking
6 days ago

Great trip this weekend. Absolutely no one up at pear lake overnight. Except I would recommend mosquito repellent. They were quite aggressive

6 days ago

Hiked to Pear a few days ago via the Watchtower route (it’s open!). Fantastic hike, although the mosquitos nearly ate me alive at the lakes, especially Pear.

hiking
13 days ago

That was great! Did it along with Alta peak, which you see from the lake. That made it very special. As of End of May, there was still snow, and the watchtower segment was closed, but I did it and had no problem whatsoever (but there is snow and ice...so.... you need to know what you are doing)

hiking
13 days ago

Fun hike with great views. The Watchtower trail is still closed as of today due to icy conditions. You can still make it up to Pear lake via the Hump trail which meets back up with the end of the Watchtower trail after the closed portion. There are only a few parches of snow to go over that aren’t too deep or difficult to cross. Stream crossings were easy as well (especially with poles). The hike is very scenic with pretty alpine lakes.

16 days ago

on June 2 my group hiked all the way to Pear lake, walked through snow at the very top. The veiws we're beautiful, and the water was refreshing (a couple of us took a dip in the lake! which still had ice in some areas!) overall it was well worth it and I would definitely do that hike again.

hiking
22 days ago

Did this hike May 16, 2018 intending to backpack via the hump trail since Watchtower trail was closed, but could only make it to Heather lake due to the snow. Lodgepole visitor center is closed, so go to Giant Forest Museum to fill out a wilderness permit if you want to camp overnight, and bring a pen!
We were able to hike to Heather Lake but it was entirely snowy and feet kept sinking into the snow up to the calf the further we went. Changed from Chacos to hiking boots. Pretty view initially but the fog rolled in quite densely and we decided to turn around as visibility was becoming scarce and we were not prepared. We were each sharing a hiking pole each which was a life-saver to prevent falls. Will return in July to make it to Pear Lake. Heard of an accident that involved helicopter rescue the day prior due to a hiker taking the Watchtower trail although it was closed. The hump trail was quite difficult, and not sure if the views were warranted. Saw a bear in the distance while hiking, kept our distance and our eyes on it. Would probably bring bear spray next time.

backpacking
30 days ago

Went up with a group. Great trail! Very clear until you hit Heather Lake. Lots of snow so prep for wet feet (our feet kept sinking in the snow). Keep an eye out for the trail markers cause you won’t see the trail that well. Camped out at Emerald Lake and views were great.

hiking
1 month ago

I was the only person camping out at Emerald Lake this past Friday, May 18th. The trail is free of snow until Heather Lake and fully covered in snow from Heather Lake to Emerald Lake. Micro-spikes are needed, especially during the early morning hours after the overnight freeze. I attempted to hike to Pearl Lake but was unable to cross the creek of rushing water from Emerald Lake down to Aster Lake. The creek was deep, about 5 to 6 feet wide with snow on both banks. May be later this summer when I can come back and hike to Pearl Lake. The Watchtower Trail is closed, until further notice, due to snow and ice. On the way back to Wolverton and spoke to the ranger who went up on horseback and mules to retrieve equipments left up there after the SAR of the San Diegan hiker who lost his life on May 13th while hiking the Watchtower Trail. Be safe out there.

1 month ago

Gorgeous lakes. The hike has it's best views from the watchtower trail. one way to consider accessing Pear Lake is the climb Alta Peak first and then scrambling down the back side down to Pear Lake. It is fun and allows you to see a wide variety of things.

hiking
1 month ago

Still quite a bit of snow around the first lake. Didn't attempt to go any further, and wouldn't recommend it for a while still. Easy enough to find the trail using the signs on the trees, but would have been lost otherwise. Couldn't see much given that the clouds formed a mist around the higher parts of the trail and down into the valley. Maybe better to do this one on a clear summer day?

backpacking
4 months ago

Heard this was the trail to do in Sequoia National Park so I went ahead and tried it! Solo, overnight. Relied heavily upon Alltrails app to guide me through. I couldn't make it to Pear lake due to the snow being extra thicc ;) so decided to spend the night at Emerald Lake which was amazing. I Went on a friday and literally saw 5 people the entire time. Even had emerald lakes campground all to myself! Pick up a self-register permit at the Giant Forest Museum! Lodgepole visitor center was closed when I was here, save yourselves some time :)

The Lakes were all frozen during the time I went, Please be careful if you decide to walk on them. Use your best judgement!

backpacking
5 months ago

This was an amazing hike! My goal was to backpack overnight at Pear Lake, but I went last Wednesday when Sequoia got a ton of snow. I was caught in the snow throughout the hike but made it to Heather Lake. It was completely frozen over, and it was snowing so badly I couldn’t even tell where the lake was until I was almost on top of it. The snow completely covered the trail, and I couldn’t find the trail to Emerald Lake after arriving at Heather Lake. That and it was super cold and very snowy. I don’t recommend going when it’s snowing! I was the only person out there with the exception of one group of about 3 people. If you do go in the winter, definitely have microspikes. I left mine in the car to save weight in my heavy pack, and the trail was completely clear of snow when I started. Biggest mistake! I ate it really bad many times on the thick sheet of ice that was blanketed by the fresh snow. Still a beautiful hike that I can’t wait to complete (to Pear Lake) in the spring.

hiking
5 months ago

backpacking
6 months ago

Took my buddy here for his first over night and it was awesome. All the lakes on the trail are beautiful. Saw a bear on the hike up to Pear Lake. Camped at Pear lake and the sunset was like nothing I have ever seen in my life. Pear Lake was nice, they do have restrooms there; however, when I go back I will definitely be camping at Emerald Lake. Caught fish in every lake. Make sure you take the watchtower trail up AND back. The other trail, can't remember the name, is ridiculously challenging!!!

backpacking
6 months ago

The trail to Pear Lake is just about my all time favorite. I’ve hiked it for many years now, and I love taking new backpackers here. It’s perfect for the beginner, as well as the experienced. I have made a video about several of my hikes to Pear Lake on YouTube. You can search for: Four Feet Up, Pear Lake. Hope you enjoy it!

hiking
7 months ago

I hiked this trail as a day hike and wow it has become one of my most favorite trails ever! Views are incredible and views from the top are also incredible and surreal as well. Strenuous and well worth the hike! Next time I'm backpacking this for sure!

backpacking
7 months ago

I took this trail for a solo backpacking trip, and let me tell you... it did not disappoint. The lakes were beautiful, the weather was perfect (I went at the end of October) and the trail was fairly quiet. There were maybe 3 other groups who camped out at pear lake other than myself, so it wasn't too crowded. The elevation gain was steady and not too terrible. Definitely take the trail via watchtower, because there are some magnificent views. It was a little chilly at night (around 31F), but if you have a good sleeping bag, you'll be fine! Would definitely hike this trail again.

hiking
7 months ago

I spent a couple of months in Sequoia/KC this past summer and this was probably my favorite day hike of all. I started my hike late in the day and was only able to make it to Emerald Lake before having to turn back; it still supplied me with some of the most memorable views from my Sequoia summer.

I took the hump route on the way up and down, which I don't recommend. It was just steep, tedious, and relatively unimpressive. Take the watchtower up and the hump route down, as someone suggested below. Saw what looked like some mountain lion (or other large animal) scat, so be aware. The trail was in great condition when I hiked it and I'd most certainly go again!

backpacking
8 months ago

Awesome hike. The alpine lakes are beautiful! Encountered a bear on the trail about 5 minutes into this hike (which was awesome) but definitely be on the look out.
When you get to the split in the trail go up the watch tower route. Don’t bother with the hump route. The views are way better with watch tower and it isn’t as steep

8 months ago

Great trail with epic views! Recommend taking the Watchtower route to be amazed by the Tokopah Valley below. While Pear Lake is the final destination on this route, don’t discount camping at Emerald Lake. Both are extremely rewarding locations on this challenging yet totally doable hike. A must for Sequoia lovers!

backpacking
8 months ago

Somewhat tough trail, but the views are totally worth it. We camped at Pear Lake, and were the only people there.

8 months ago

Love this hike good over night pack. A little Challenging. Good to go watchtower in and the hump trail out

9 months ago

Great backpacking trip. One of the shortest hikes to get to view real back country scenery. Fishing was great.

backpacking
9 months ago

I've been hiking this place since I was a teen. Lots of fun. I wouldn't call it a difficult hike if your in shape. Tons to see and enjoy. Bad thing is it's very popular now. Try to catch it during the week and try to hike past the first lake. Other wise You'll be stuck with the weekend hikers that don't know how to talk about any thing other then social media. Lol over all a fun hike.

9 months ago

Amazing. We hiked this trail out and back in about 6 hrs. Including a swimm brrrrrrrrrrr cold. and some down time at the lake. Amazing views and prestine scenery. It was a bit of a trek on the way in a lot of uphill but the lake and the views were the ultimate payoff. The first two lakes are nice but if you have the strength and willing to go the extra two miles you will see why it far exceeds the views of the lakes below. Probably one of the most amazing hikes in the park.

backpacking
10 months ago

Thoroughly exhausting and thoroughly exhilarating! Four of us spent two nights at Emerald Lake below Pear - we all thought the sites there were nicer. Plenty of mosquitos. Another mile to Pear for a day hike. Highly recommended: add another mile with an excursion down the Pear Lake drainage, past the Ranger hut to view the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River rushing down the granite slopes on the way to the canyon below. Stunning! Then bushwhack back up to the main trail. No campfires at Emerald or Pear, but bear boxes and vault toilets (yay!) at both.

hiking
10 months ago

Like Alpine Lakes? My brother and I hiked this as a day hike, went past 4 different alpine lakes and was absolutely stunning. Not an easy climb, bring hiking poles if you want to save stamina. Defiantly doable with hiking poles for non-avid hikers.

Go via the watchtower if it's open, easier and better views

hiking
10 months ago

Beautiful! Wildflowers still in bloom, delicious lakes and stunning views.

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