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Heather Lake via Hump Trail (Winter Route) is a 7.2 mile moderately 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 accessible year-round.

Length 7.2 mi Elevation gain 2,404 ft Route type Out & Back

Backpacking

Camping

Fishing

Hiking

Nature trips

Snowshoeing

Bird watching

Forest

Lake

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Description
Waypoints (0)

This is the more challenging route to Heather Lake but stays open in the winter. Easier route is here: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/heather-lake-via-watchtower-trail

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (83)
Photos (354)
Recordings (64)
Completed (296)
Sarah Walker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 7, 2020
Hiking
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Christine Mersten
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020
HikingBugsScramble

We did Heather Lake using the Hump Trail ascending and the Watchtower descending in mid July this year. We initially planned to only use the Hump Trail because my husband has a fear of heights. But after talking to other hikers we decided to try the Watchtower on the way back. Here are my thoughts on the merits of each trail. I think the Hump Trail gets a bad rap as being boring. It is anything but. I think people are so focused on the lung-busting climb that they keep their gaze ahead, and don’t stop and look around. It is a hard climb. I’m 55 years old as is my husband. We are in relatively good shape but we had to stop to calm our hearts a few times. Our progress was slow, but that helped us enjoy so many wildflowers, creeks, deer... it was stunning. Like most alpine lakes trails, the Hump has the climb up and then down (unlike the Watchtower which is either slow up or slow down). If you descend on the Hump Trail your first 20 to 30 minutes will be ascending out of the bowl Heather Lake sits in. But it’s downhill from there. There will be bugs. Make sure you use bug spray. Bring plenty of water. It always helps when sucking wind. The Watchtower is scary in the first ten minutes after you leave Heather Lake. You walk along a narrow trail with an edge that goes straight down. One small misstep or slide on the gravel and you are toast. But the views are SPECTACULAR, that is if you have the courage to look to the side. Several hikers our age talked about the vertigo feeling. I don’t have heights issues but I definitely had a few moments on that trail. My husband motored through it despite his fear of heights. He never looked anywhere but his feet till he finished that section. After that it was easy. The actual Watchtower is so cool and a must see. The walk back is a great walk in the woods and all down hill. We believe if we had started ascending from Watchtower we would not have gotten to Heather Lake. We would not know how long the scary part of the trail is and would have turned around. Although we did this hike the opposite way most do, because we did it that way we got there. In hindsight we wish we’d gone on to see at least one more lake beyond Heather Lake. I recommend that you go on to at least one more lake.

Ronald Ortiz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 12, 2020
Hiking

Great day for a hike. The hump trail kicked my butt. Not too crowded and great scenery everywhere. Looking forward to a few more hikes out there.

Brian Langley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 11, 2020
Hiking

We took the watchtower route to Heather Lake, and then took the Hump trail back. It was a very warm day and so we were slowed down a lot by the heat.

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Sadaf Rizvi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 13, 2020
Hiking

Highly recommend taking hump trail back to save time! Trail was pretty, just super foggy when I went (06/13/20)

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Gadi Giladi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 8, 2020
Hiking

A fantastic hike with a fantastic view and heather lake is amazing I loved it a lot

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Mathew Fiegleman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 6, 2020
Hiking

On June 6, we hiked from Wolverton, up to Alta Peak, and then shimmied down the mountain side to Emerald lake and return via the Lakes Trail (Hump side, not Watchtower side). It was pretty challenging, especially the offroute connection down to the lakes / shimmying down boulders. There is currently a lot of snow from Alta Peak down to the lakes offroute, so the feet got wet. Took around 9 hours round trip for 2 guys in late 20s with pretty decent fitness. Otherwise I think Lakes Trail and Alta Peak have equal but different amazing views. Alta you see many high sierra peaks, Lakes trail has the mountain ridges surrounding you from down by the lakes.

Sam Rubin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 16, 2020
HikingMuddySnow

This was a nice climb up, with the added element of navigating some slipperiness the whole way. Relatively warm, winter day where snow covered the trail almost entirely, although microspikes were not required (would've been nice to have). It was a nice climb with really cool views to the North the first two miles, then as you get onto Hump Trail it starts to become more exposed and there were a handful of routes through the snow possible. The best part of the hike was once you reached the top and had a full panoramic view of a really sick mountain face. There was a short descent to Heather Lake from the top, which in winter is totally covered in snow and the trek down featured very soft snow that was easy to sink into, so overall we regretted going down to the lake. Then the way back down to the parking lot was nice and steady... it was snowy/icy enough that you could just kinda slide the whole way down. All in all a nice hike which would've been really great in season when you can see the lake.

Hiu Cheung
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 4, 2019
Hiking

Watch tower view was great but heather lake was a bit disappointing. I’m sure during season (maybe after some rain) the lake would’ve been beautiful. Saw a rattlesnack on our way up to Watchtower but other than that the hike was great and lots of shade. Started at 8:30am at the trailhead, thought it would’ve been super hot. Guess we were just lucky. Do bring lots of water and fluid!

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Jessica W
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 30, 2019
HikingSnow
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Jordan Ahistus
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 23, 2019
Hiking

Did this trail on June 21. The watchtower trail was closed so we had to do the hump trail up. The last mile and a half was covered in snow and thankfully the yellow markers on the trail were a huge help to find our way down to heather lake and back. The lake is still about 90% frozen over but still very nice views. We left at 8am and got to have the lake to ourselves which was great! Highly recommend!

Kevin Shin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 12, 2019
HikingSnow

unreal view at the end. felt like a moderate hike until you hit the snow level. snow starts at 2 miles. look for yellow triangles but be aware the snow can lead you off trail. use this map and GPS to guide you! happy hiking

Alandi Stec
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 25, 2018

Did this tail today and it was gorgeous. Trees to mountains to lakes and a big blue sky that turned into a massive fog cloud on the way back in to the car. Had the trail and all of nature basically to ourselves! Ran into a family of three at Heather Lake fora brief moment and then back to just us and nature. The snow was fresh! I think micro crampons would have been a nice addition to our shoe gear but we managed. So so so lovely!

Kathleen Madruga
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 1, 2018

The uphill hump trail to heather lake is more like strenuous... there is no break! We would recommend doing the watchtower trail to heather lake and returning using the downhill version of the hump trail.... much more enjoyable experience! Beautiful scenery on the watchtower trail and heather lake is amazing as well!!! Enjoy your hike

Simon Guérard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 7, 2018
Hiking

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)

austin b
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 6, 2018
Backpacking

Did this after the crazy winter in 2017 and it was a short steep climb up snow as there was pretty much no visible trail. If you do this in winter make sure you have decent navigation skills and don't walk over running water as pretty much everyone in my group post holed at least once.

Melanie Alvarado
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 22, 2018
Hiking

I hiked the first 4.1 miles and back today, only up to Heather Lake. I would certainly have completed the trail up to Pear Lake if it wasn't for some pesky mild foot pain I've been babying lately and that made me decide not to overdo it. If it wasn't for that, I would have kept going, albeit at a slowish pace due to the snowy conditions higher up. The trail was largely snow-free at the trailhead, but gradually transformef into a winter wonderland by the time I got to Heather Lake. I left my crampons at home, but it wouldn't have hurt bringing them along. There were quite a few other hikers, and by far most of them also only wore simple footwear / normal hiking shoes. I'm looking forward to returning to do the full trail and maybe take the Watchtower route later in the year.

Kathleen Armstrong
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 8, 2018
Hiking

Hiked up to Heather Lake on January 28th. The trail is easy until you get to hump trail. It is quite a climb up to the lake but well worth it. We passed a few folks taking breaks as the climb was steep. Glad we took our crampons as the trail was a bit icy in the beginning and covered in the snow at the top. The lake was frozen but we enjoyed the view from our hammock :). We hike most weekends and like to climb so this trail was awesome for what we were looking for! Take it easy on the climb up. It may feel like forever reaching the top but you’ll get there and the views are very rewarding

Rachael Reher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 6, 2018

Loved this hike! Definately more challenging on the way to Heather lake via hump trail because of the uphill challenge the majority of the way! However, the trail is beautiful and well maintained. I would definately go on the hump trail again! Loved it❤️

Dale Reher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 6, 2018
First to Review

Challenging but doable! Slow and steady wins the race. Did this in January 2018. Goal was Heather Lake. Made it! Lake was frozen. Hung out with my lovely wife on a hammock and enjoyed the view of Marble Fork Canyon. Look forward to doing it again in spring where I’ll take the Watchtower Trail.

Charley Q.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 11, 2020
Hiking
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Joshua Yun
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Backpacking
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Brendan McQuillan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking
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Rosa Aguilar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking
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Anastasiia Olson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
Hiking
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mrsgodoy User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
Hiking
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Brian Caines
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
Hiking
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Laurie (Strawberry) B.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 22, 2020
Hiking
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