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

HARD 372 reviews
#4 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 Three Rivers, 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: 2,913 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

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. 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.

8 days ago

Stayed at pear lake. Nice pit toilot on site. View from the watchtower is spectacular.

This is a long hike but well worth the effort. I arrived at the trailhead at 8:30am and with stops at each of the lakes for photography was back at my car aroumd 4:30pm. The trail is well marked and there are even two pit toilets along the way. There's not many flat stretches, so be prepared for a lot of up and down. At Heather Lake you have the option of taking back the Hump Trail instead of Watchtower Trail, which was nice to add some variety to the hike. The views were incredible and I only ram into two other hikers. Snow was expected the next day, so not sure how much longer parts of the trail will rain open this late into the season.

hiking
22 days ago

Did this trial 11/16/19. Went all the way to Pear Lake. It was pretty warm walking up and I was in a t shirt, but on the way back, around 2:45, i had to put two more layers on. So I suggest to dress warm or have an extra jacket. Took about 4 hours to get up, with a short break at Heather Lake. And about 2.5 to 3 hours to get back. Very beautiful lakes and was so worth it, but my legs are BURNING! it was a steep climb up to Pear Lake.

hiking
27 days ago

Awesome hike today! Watchtower trail is open. Just went to Heather Lake. Beautiful day. A little chilly but was okay in single layer clothes. Took 2 young boys (12 & 10) they did great! No wildlife except for squirrels.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike yesterday! Clear weather, trails are clearly marked and in good condition. We took the Watchtower trail portion to Heather Lake, stopping to scramble up the back of the Watchtower for photos. We will definitely be back to go all the way to Pear Lake. What a great day hike! Started at 7:45am and it took us 5.5hrs with solid 30 minute stops at both Watchtower and the Lake (3 people age 35-45 in reasonably good shape)

1 month ago

Hiked it yesterday. Took me 6.5 hours out and back, including all the stops. The trail is mostly dirt and rocks, no scrambling, pretty convenient. No snowy parts. very short wet portions, you won't get wet or muddy if you don't want to, but depends on the weather of course. Came across very few other hikers (maybe 10) throughout the entire hike (Friday). The first 3 miles are a monotonous (and in my opinion - boring) climb. Not a lot to see. After that, spectacular views most of the way. Temps get colder as you ascend, but all in all the weather was great. The lakes are beautiful. I think they're worth the climb. However, at the highest parts (almost 10,000 feet above see level) I did start to feel a little altitude sickness (headache, fatigue), and even going back down got hard, so be prepared. There's no signal most of the way, so download your maps in advance. Be prepared for sudden freak storms. I hardly saw any wildlife - just squirrels and one mule deer - but a fellow hiker told me he'd seen a mother bear with her cub, so be cautious.

hiking
off trail
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

I decided to make a loop trail out of the Pear Lake/Alta Peak hike. This was an awesome hike that I made a terrifying hike. Don’t go the route I did. Especially with a fully loaded backpack.

backpacking
rocky
1 month ago

Definitely a hard hike with backpacking gear! We made a weekend trip out of this hike-- camp in Lodgepole Friday night, hike to Pear and camp Sat night, pack up and go home Sunday morning. We (I) slugged up the mountain with frequent breaks to enjoy the scenery and eat our snacks. It was a solid 40º-50º during the day, but with our constant movement we were all in single layers. We left the Alta trailhead around noon and arrived at Pear around 4:30 PM. This gave us enough time to cook before the sun went down at 6:30 PM. At night, the temperature went below freezing, so definitely come prepared! Bring lots of layers to wear when you sleep. Also heard bears during the night sniffing around us, but all of our food was safely stashed away in a bear locker. All in all, stunning prehistoric-like scenery on an intermediate backpacking trip.

hiking
1 month ago

highly recommend this trail. first 4 miles steady incline then the area around the lakes the ups and downs are much smaller. view from the Watchtower is great and theres (compost) toilet up at the lakes. would call this moderate plus as opposed to hard

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Amazing hike!!! Other then getting hit by a freak snow storm early morning on Sunday 9/29... completely unprepared

hiking
2 months ago

Been wanting to do this hike all year, it's my favorite in Sequoia, and I picked a great day with clear skies and excellent conditions. Left my house in L.A. at 4 a.m. and was at the trail head by 7:45. Temps ranged from the low 60's to the mid 70's. Mellow hike through the forest until you hit the trail that goes up to the lakes where it begins to climb. Nice view at the outcrop right before it starts to get narrow. Had a worrisome moment where I came across a snake at the sketchiest part of the trail. To be honest I'd rather it was a bear. I hate snakes. Pretty sure he didn't like me either cause he went up the cliff wall super quick. I love how as soon as the Watchtower ends it drops you right at the first lake. It's pretty slow going after that because of the majestic beauty of the lakes. Each lake has it's own charm and leaves me transfixed. I'd never been to Pear before and the way the sun was hitting the water was just...heavenly. Very lucky to live just a few hours away from this magical place. Spent about 7 hours on the trail. Late lunch in Lodgepole before I headed home.

Getting colder. Can’t wait for the winter backpacking!

hiking
2 months ago

This might be my favorite hike I’ve ever done . 3 beautiful lakes along the way and a ton of redwood trees.

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

Awesome trail. Nice view. It is not too hard as the elevation is smoothed out throughout the entire distance. A lot of bugs though.

Awesome trail, I would recommend for experienced adventurers.

hiking
bugs
rocky
3 months ago

Our Boy Scout Troop did this hike today 9/17/19 and we only made it to the 2nd Lake (Emerald Lake). It was rocky at some points and uphill about halfway when you start. On the way there we took Hump Hill at the fork to get to the lakes. When we headed back we took Watchtower trail. That was a much better view in my opinion. Takes a long time but worth it. Also a lot of meat bees on the first half of the trail.

hiking
3 months ago

This trail had its rocky side and forest side. Incredible view of the mountains looking once you get half way.. this hike was marked as hard but it was not that hard besides it being on the lengthier side of 12 miles.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

We did this trail on Sunday of Labor Day weekend and it was worth every inclined step! We originally wanted to make it to Pear Lake but settled with Heather Lake which was absolutely gorgeous. You do reach a point where you can pick between taking the watch tower trail or The Hump trail, both ways are same distance and lead to the same destination, and we took the Hump trail. It was immaculate. Once you reach The Hump the rest of the trail to Heather Lake is downhill and so beautiful. We started at 7:45am and had a lot of shade. Lots of bugs tho so come prepared. My boyfriend and I each took 32 ounces of water and it was a perfect amount. We got to Heather lake at 11:15 and there were very few people. Took a quick dip on the water, then left like at 12:30. A lot of people started showing up. So my suggestion the earlier the better. We headed back and reached the trailhead by 1:30pm. Much faster because the whole way was decline. Again, we only got to Heather Lake. There was a sign for Emerald and Pear lake that was 1 miles more but were were so exhausted and there was a lot of people. Highly recommend!

hiking
bugs
rocky
3 months ago

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

I did this in about 5 hours, with a few small stops between each lake to take in the scenery and a 30 minute break at the last lake, Pear Lake. The first half is mostly uphill, with very little sun cover towards the end. This is a beautiful hike, with many spots to take in the mountain ranges. Be sure arrive early to secure parking.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

It took me 4.5h to get to Pear Lake including multiple stops, and just 2h to return to the car. Why? Because I was being mercilessly attacked by mosquitoes at the end of the day. So many! Bring bug spray.

hiking
bugs
rocky
3 months ago

We day-hiked to Pear Lake on 8/24 and it was beautiful! Mosquitoes were present during the first part of the hike up to the Watchtower and then were sporadic after, so be prepared. The hike to is shaded for the first half and then exposed heading to each of the four lakes for periods of time. Passing the Watchtower, you'll get nice views of Tokopah Falls below. As you get closer to Pear Lake, the trail becomes rockier, but it's easy to follow and signage is great. You can only camp at Emerald and Pear lake and we saw a small number of hikers at both. Overall, this is an incredibly beautiful hike, but a tough one. Our Garmin clocked us in at 15 miles and we made brief stops at each of the first three lakes before spending about an hour at Pear Lake. Even on a sunny day, the water is very cold, but plenty of people went in for a dip. We saw a two bears about two miles from the parking lot, so be aware!

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