The Lakes Trail is a 14.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Sequoia National Park, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is best used from June until October.
Moderate climb. No campfires at the lakes or in the Tablelands beyond. Camp only at numbered sites at Emerald and Pear Lakes. 6.1 miles (9.8 km) to Pear Lake. First campsite - Emerald Lake (5 miles/8 km) Limit 25 people/day depending on campsite availability (no reservations).
Incredible experience! The trail was perfectly maintained, moderately trafficked, and easy to navigate. It is rated as difficult and definitely plays the part. Being unconditioned did not help, nor did the tons of gear that my fiancée and I brought, but the hike was still doable. We left out of the Wolverton trailhead Friday afternoon, which I would recommend if you are looking for the quickest way to any of the lakes, as it takes about a mile and 1000ft off of the trek. Doing the hike in early October was great because of the weather, mid 70s during the day and down into the 20s at night. However, being that it was later in the year, it was dark before we had reached our destination by 8. So I would suggest keeping a headlamp close by. We camped at Emerald Lake which is a good 5 and a half miles via The Watchtower branch, from the start of the trail in Wolverton. Camping is only allowed in any of the 8 numbered tent spots between the toilets and the lake, and by the time we had gotten there, they were almost all full. There is a sign along the trail after the toilets and before the lake which has a small map pointing out where the spots are. Each one is complete with its own bear box. Setting up camp was a breeze, even in the dark, the ground was nice and soft, perfect for the rent stakes, and there are tons of trees and rocks around to hang or lay any gear that you don't want on the ground. The next morning gave way to incredible views of the lake and the mountains. The lake was so beautiful that we decided to hang out all day instead of explore around to any of the other 3 lakes on the trail. The water was crystal clear and the fish were everywhere. We fished for the better part of the morning, catching some beautiful fish. Later in the day, I pulled out the inflatable kayak that I had humped up the mountain, and explored around on the lake which was incredible. The experience on the water was totally worth the extra weight in my pack. Sunday morning came around and we packed up camp and by 9am were at the lake again posing for our final picture before heading down the mountain. The hike down was a cake walk compared to the trek up. Taking a little less than 3 hours back to the parking lot. All in all, it was an incredible trip and we cannot wait to go back and do it again.
great trail! You get so much for the time. Awsome scenery!
This is an excellent moderate to difficult hiking trail for conditioned hikers (know your condition level). There is a loop like Andrew has mentioned that splits into the Watchtower portion and the Hump portion (a well outlined hiking map at the beginning of the traill will provide good detail). I also agree that the more desirable portion is the watchtower simply for the views once at the top. The Hump portion is not as scenic per se but offers some challenging steep parts which are fun in their own right. Where the Hump trail and Watchtower merge is another trail which will lead you to several lakes one of which (Heather lake) is only a 5 minute jaunt from this loop and quite beautiful.
Excellent out and back hiking trail up to Pear Lake. There are 2 options. The Watchtower and the Hump. The Watchtower is the way to go. Amazing views and a slightly less demanding grade as well. We took the Hump down and while being nestled in the trees is beautiful, it seemed a bit harder after the previous days ascent. Pear Lake gets COLD at night. Bring the warmest items you own if going in October. They have bear boxes up there as well as pit toilets which is a HUGE plus. The lower parts of the trail are soft dirt and decomposed wood, while the higher up gets rockier. Much easier than the Whitney trail if you're familiar.