Heather Lake via Watchtower Trail

MODERATE 164 reviews
#12 of 93 trails in

Heather Lake via Watchtower Trail is a 8.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Three Rivers, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.1 miles Elevation Gain: 2,112 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

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-via-hump-trail-winter-route)

hiking
1 month ago

This is a beautiful hike especially in the early summer when the creek beds are flowing. The just going to see the Watchtower area is well worth the trip as is Heather Lake which is breathtaking. It is a little treacherous at the Watchtower area but all in all a fabulous hike. I wouldn't say this is moderate but more like challenging, somewhere between moderate and difficult due to the elevation you already start at.

hiking
1 month ago

originally planned just to go to watch tower but then decided to go to Heather Lake since it was not that much farther. we completed this trail at the end of October, when we started on the trail it was a nice beautiful day, as we started hiking it became overcast and cold, but it wasn't unreasonably cold. beautiful hike and beautiful views that you get to experience. There are a few parts to the trail that are a little bit scary, huge drop offs, straight drops, but nothing that is too scary. We started the trail around 8:40 in the morning and finished around 2:30 but we did take breaks and sat around and enjoyed the views. Will be doing this one again but next time we plan on going farther and seeing the other two lakes

hiking
snow
1 month ago

hiking
bugs
rocky
2 months ago

I loved this hike! We clocked in just under 12 miles out and back so be prepared. Views were great and Heather Lake was stunning. I would have rated this hike as hard. The increase in elevation was very noticeable. And at one point the trail was about two feet wide with a sheer drop off. Some icy and rocky areas. Did not realize what we were getting ourselves into but it all worked out and was worth it! Didn’t see any bears but a few deer! Highly recommend!

hiking
2 months ago

I loved this hike. The views on watchtower trail are amazing. There are some pretty sheer drop offs. If you are afraid of heights, might not want to go all the way to the lake. Lots of shade. It was closer to 10 miles round trip to Heather Lake. Saw a cub.

hiking
2 months ago

Great views from watchtower. Wonder if anyone ever fell. No selfies. Black bear at Heather

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

9/1/19 - This was more like a 9 mile hike. It was extremely hot this day, but thankfully it was mostly shaded. There was a viewpoint as well as Heather Lake, and other than that there weren’t much other scenery. For this reason and all the bug bites we got, I rate this 3 stars. For the amount of time we took hiking, I would maybe hike a shorter trial that provided more scenery. There were people swimming in the lake and thought that was fun, so bring swim gear if you plan to do so. It’s refreshing after a really hot hike.

hiking
bugs
rocky
3 months ago

Perfect weather right now and few people. The hike is 10.5 miles, though.

hiking
4 months ago

It is a continuous uphill but well graded, the views from watchtower and the alpine lakes are worth the workout. Spectacular views and nice temps even late summer due to altitude. Even saw a black bear and her cub :)

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Awesome hike. Definitely would recommend

running
4 months ago

The views were spectacular, you could look down at Tokepah falls. Definitely a must see!

hiking
5 months ago

Absolutely amazing trail especially between the watchtower and the lake.

hiking
snow
5 months ago

hiking
snow
5 months ago

We hiked this trail on 6/22. It was a fairly easy hike with snow along the way. We were not able to reach Heather lake as the snow was too deep towards the end. I would suggest waiting a few more weeks if your plan is to reach and enjoy the lake.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful views and a challenging hike if you’re not in good shape!

hiking
blowdown
scramble
snow
5 months ago

Tried this trail on 6/17. Do not attempt without decent hiking boots right now. There are snow drifts and a couple of stream crossings that are best taken off the main trail. Once you get to the fork that separates the Hump and Watchtower trails, the trail gets really rough. Lots of trees to scramble over and eventually the trail is completely covered in snow. The snow covered areas are doable without snowshoes, but it is strenuous. My partner and I had to turn back after summiting the hump because climbing it without snowshoes was exhausting. Fun trail, but difficult at the moment.

hiking
Sun Nov 11 2018

We had planned to do the entire loop but after Watch Tower the track got rocky, narrow and very steep sided. We had checked before hand but no comments said “if you are afraid of heights, give this a miss”. We walked half a km past the Tower but then turned back. It’s beautiful but if heights worry you, take another trail. We didn’t make it to the lake, just back tracked down. This trail was closed today but we were among 30 other hikers doing it. Amazing views. Definitely a must for the ones who like heights. And take water, so many people take these trails with a tiny bottle or nothing and wearing sneakers- ????

backpacking
Tue Oct 30 2018

Very fun trail. There is currently a sign at the hump trail and watchtower trail fork that says watchtower trail is icy. While it definitely is through winter and maybe into summer, it’s all melted. No worries there, so don’t miss out on the amazing views it has to offer. Very nice one or two nighter.

hiking
Thu Oct 11 2018

So the reviews made here were very useful in completing my hike yesterday. The filter idea was great, a must especially if it is hot, but also you need to drink a lot on the way back to stay hydrated. Insects were not a problem like they are down in the Canyon. I took the Hump trail on the way back thinking it would be easier than just repeating my way around watchtower, biggest mistake of my hike. I missed the views on the way back and the grade up and then down was not what my legs wanted on the way back. Saw trout, many Chipmunks and Pikas gathering cones and seeds, not too many birds. It was supposed to snow the next day which is why I made the effort on this day. This is a truly awesome not to be missed hike, should have led with this. Go for the views especially of the lake with the mountain backdrop. I saw only 6 people the whole time I was on the trail which was both welcoming and a little worrisome, as I was hiking and doing photography on my own. I know know what the "Sounds of Silence" are as this hike will take you there. Virtual Treadmill video of this hike can be seen on my YouTube Channel, copy and paste link below to watch it. Thanks. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFO02nxPdM4-CabegFIPlow?view_as=subscriber

Sun Oct 07 2018

good work out

hiking
Sun Sep 16 2018

This has to be one of my favorite hikes. We took the lollipop route on the Lakes trail and made the trip up to the Watchtower before heading onto Heather Lake. We then took the Hump trail back to the parking lot. It was a total of 9.2 miles and 2,326 total elevation. The views from the Watchtower are stunning and the drop off from the edge down to Tokopah Valley is scary yet exhilarating. Heather Lake is a small alpine lake and a nice place to have lunch. I’m really glad we took the Hump trail down and didn’t attempt climbing up. It was pretty steep downhill with lots of loose gravel. Best part of the hike were the views from the Watchtower. Pictures don’t do justice to the immense grandeur.

Tue Sep 04 2018

Some tough places but the views are worth it and the lake is amazing. The path along the way passes many meadows and streams. Water was perfect temp in September for swimming.

Mon Sep 03 2018

During the summer, take it this trail via the watch tower!

hiking
Sat Aug 18 2018

sufficiently challenging, great view and beautiful lake. The culmination of a hike on a hot day was sticking my feet in the cold lake. return to was pretty steep though, so get some good hiking shoes.

hiking
Wed Aug 15 2018

My favorite hike in Sequioa National Park. The view from the Watchtower is epic. This hike changed my perspective of Sequioa NP, always thought it the only thing it has were Sequioas, but I wrong. After the Watchtower it's a short hike to Heather Lake where we just relaxed while a few people in our group took a dip in the lake. Definitely bring insect repellent if you plan to hangout the lake area.

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