Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Three Rivers with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
5 days ago

Even though the weather forecasted high of 73, definitely felt like 85 with the strong sun. Don’t let the weather’s temperature fool you. Roundtrip 7 miles from Big Meadow trailhead. Lots of horse poo on the trail so beware. Either go with long sleeves/pants or wear repellent because you will get bit. Steep climbing up but manageable. There were quite a bit of people on the trail but nothing too crazy. Definitely recommend either taking a lightweight chair or hammock to rest while @ the lake. Be sure to take water shoes/sandals if you’re planning on getting in. Water was cool not cold, great to jump into.

Went here on June 23. I thought the weather was beautiful but the Northerners with me were a little too warm. Well-marked; you don't need a map to do this one. This is a trail I wouldn't hesitate to take with fit friends but depending I think the altitude and distance might be tough for some.

It's worth it though, the view is lovely at the top and on the way up. Bug spray is essential. Consumed 2L of water round trip, could have used more.

Excellent hike. It goes above the tree line so take a hat. There is wildlife so keep your eyes open. Watch out for the R.O.U.S.’s!!! (Rodents of unusual size) Lol, I’m referring to the Marmots. Large bushy tailed Beaver looking guys that live under rocks. They can become very aggressive, so be “hiker smart” and don’t leave your stuff unattended. Never had any problem with Marmots myself, but have talked with others that have.

hiking
10 days ago

Beautiful trail, and we were the only ones on it. But even with long sleeves and bug spray, we were walking in a cloud of gnats, esp the first mile, which took a lot of enjoyment away, especially for my kids (6 and 10)

Also you really can't access the creek except at crossings as the embankment is pretty steep

A true highlight of Sequoia, and a great taste of the high Sierra within a few miles of the General Sherman tree and his tour buses!

We hiked to Pear Lake via the Watchtower Trail, camped for the night, and hiked out the next morning. Wilderness permits were readily available at Lodgepole at 1 PM the day prior. The climb up to the Watchtower from the parking lot was gradual, with beautiful forest views and alpine streams flowing down the hillside. The Watchtower Trail was a bit unnerving for a step or two with full packs! The last couple of miles from Heather Lake to Pear Lake felt more strenuous, with short climbs/descents and exposed rock. We got to Pear Lake in ~3.5 hours from the parking lot. Pear Lake was stunning, although the mosquitos and marmots were very interested in our presence; a face net came in handy. There were about three other groups with 1-3 people each camping at Pear. The hike out took ~2.5 hours. A must-do!

hiking
11 days ago

Great hike. My friend, who is just getting into hiking, did this hike yesterday just for the day! We made it to the lake in an hour and a half, taking little rest stops here and there. We stayed by the lake for a couple of hours and then headed back down! I recommend hiking early in the morning, at least during these summer months, because it definitely makes a difference! Lots of wild flowers and butterflies! Beautiful. Great workout!

Bring a bug net when hiking in the summer, trail on Elizabeth pass may be covered in snow. Doable in 4 days

Spectacular. Went late June. Saw 12 people in four days (including a kind ranger). Did the loop counterclockwise, which is recommended unless you are otherwise itching to crawl/scramble/struggle up the skree of Sawtooth Pass. Camped Cliff Creek, Middle Lower Five Lakes, and Upper-Middle Lost Canyon. Mosquitos were out and about, but with the year’s lighter snowpack, we may have faced the worst of it. To be safe, bring ample Deet and invest in mosquito resistant clothing (including face netting). With some long stretches out of tree-cover, also bring ample sunscreen (though 3oz was more than enough for two of us).

If you’re young and/or in tip-top shape (and, more importantly, very prepared and carrying a light pack), you could do this in two days, though take caution with altitude sickness over some of these passes. Otherwise, take your time and enjoy this underappreciated escape.

Hard, but not overly painfully so. I have asthma and had to stop many times for air, but there was no need for a fast pace. Even with my slowness, we planned for four days but did it in there. Aside from normal backcountry gear, bring A LOT of sunscreen and zinc and GOOD mosquito repellant. Our GPS recorder logged significantly more miles than as posted on this and other trail sites. This map has the trail going in straight lines that do not exist. Expect closer to 35 miles maybe.

Day 1: Timber Gap Trail to Timber Gap. The trail is moderately steep out of the parking lot and continues so for some time. Reaching the top of Timber Gap has nice views with plenty of shade. Descend fast to the junction with Cliff Creek. This is the most psychologically challenging parts of the trip—to descend to below where you started and then have to climb for miles with a tall pass at the end of it. At the junction with Cliff Creek there is the most beautiful creek passing with several little pools. I wish it wouldn’t have been a waste to camp there, otherwise we would have. Have lunch. Walk along the creek and through the dry bed (which can be confusing—some cairns arranged; alternatively look for mule poop) as you pass epic waterfalls as you approach the switchbacks to climb to the Pinto Lake Area. At Pinto Lake, full water in stream that is clearly audible. Several campsites in front of and across the path from the bear box area. Choose a site on the rocks above the bear box—the breeze up there keeps the mosquitos away and the sunset is incredible.

Day 2: Fill your water. Then have fun figuring out how to get across the marsh and connect with the trail. Once you find it, begin the 3000 vertical feet in 3 miles to the top of Blackrock Pass. You’ll pass a steam going down the side of the mountain near the beginning of the climb up the switchbacks. Fill water here as it is the last water on this side and there won’t be mosquito free water for a bit on the other side. Then get ready—if you look straight up the mountain, slightly behind the stream, you can see the pass. It looks forever away. It sucked. I had to stop often (every 20-30 steps) to catch my breath. The grade is steep most of the way. But the views are the best views of the trip, as you see Columbine Lake and Spring Lake and the other lake across the valley. Take your time getting to the top and then enjoy the pass. The views are also quite good, as you look down on Little 5 lakes below. As you descend, turn around and look at the pass and you’ll understand why it’s called Blackrock—all of the rock to the right off the pass is sand colored. Get down, enjoy the view of the first couple of Little 5 lakes from above, but then put on your turbo boosters and get past them as fast as possible—horrible mosquitos. There is a creek draining from one of the lakes at the trail junction that takes you to the ranger station. Bugs were slightly less horrible there if you need water. Continue onto Big 5. You’ll hit a junction for Lower or Upper Big 5. Just know that if you choose Lower Big 5, you likely won’t come back to see Upper Big 5–there are quite a few switchbacks on the one mile trail to lower Big 5 and elevation to get back up to Upper Big 5 would suck. Lower Big 5 has some nice camping spots near the bear box and other spots across the lake on a small shoulder above where we were told there was a nice pond. AND YOU CAN HAVE FIRES HERE! Remember—no wood larger than you’re forearm.

Day 3: We had a leisurely morning of breakfast, a couple of swims, cards, and snacks. We slowly packed up, departed at 1230, and began the moderate climb to start, then mostly easy going hike to the end of Upper Lost Canyon. The creek and valley are absolutely stunning with Sawtooth and a couple other peaks in the background. We camped at a small, cleared area just a few switchbacks up the trail at the start of the climb to Columbine. We were directly next to one stream with another up the side of the mountain. Take your time along here—you’re in no rush and the valley is picturesque.

Day 4: after sleep, the hike up to Columbine from the base of the switchbacks wasn’t too bad—took maybe 45 minutes. The views are incredible; you can see the switchbacks up Blackrock Pass Trail. Contrary to what the rangers say, there are plenty of camping spots up there. When you reach the lake, follow the trail to the right, over the stream and you’ll find over a dozen great spots. The hike up to the pass is steep and challenging in sections, but the views are top notch and scree skiing down the mountain is so, so fun. Gaters and poles are a must for the descent. There isn’t really a trail for a while, so just choose a good skiing spot and keep your eyes open for the use trail toward the bottom on the way to monarch lake.

Great, tough trail! Pretty steep at some points though. You can stop at the first lake (heather) for a shorter hike or keep going to the top lake (pear). I recommend going all the way to Pear Lake though, it’s not that much further once you’ve gotten to heather lake. My dad was able to catch several (smaller) fish at heather lake while I went on to the top. We went watchtower trail for a better overlook and it didn’t disappoint.

hiking
16 days ago

I loved this trail!! There were so many bugs and mosquitoes so taking bug spray is a must!!! The end of the trail is amazing, their is so many ladybugs, it was pretty cool seeing that.... overall pretty good trail. The only thing i wanna say is, when driving up to the the trailhead like the last 2 miles in order to get their you gotta drive through this unpaved road and its pretty rocky!!! I don’t advice to take a low vehicle

Such a great trail. We hiked to Heather Lake via Watchtower. Watchtower is a must...spectacular views and Heather Lake is fantastic. We took a quick swim across the lake and found a great rock to jump off of and a small patch of snow to play in.

NPS website is not lying when they said "start early because it's a west-facing slope". The first mile was incredibly hot and sunny in the afternoon. After the first mile, it gets much easier. it took me 3pm-10pm including lots of picture-taking and slow progress on the way up.

Saw many marmots and grouse. If you hear a deep "whoop whoop whoop whoop", that's the male grouse's mating call.

This year, going earlier in the season would've meant fewer mosquitoes, less heat, and less crowds if you're also visiting Lodgepole. Late May-early june would be ideal this year. June in years when there's heavier snowfall.

The views were pretty good but I wish I had hiked Eagle Lake instead, considering I started late.

We hiked from the parking lot all the way to pear lake. It took us 4.5 hours and we damn near died lol. This is not an easy hike by any means, but well worth the effort if you can make it. Emerald and Heather lake have much more trees and shade than pear lake. There were fish at all the lakes but they were only about the length of my hand so not really worth my time. We camped at pear lake for one night and got assaulted by the these annoying marmots. These little rascals will eat any clothing or gear you have that has salt on it. They are like salt honey badgers. They don't give a crap about people being there and will hide until you walk away for a second. All in all it was a beautiful trip. Watchtower gives a great viewpoint but The Hump has much more shade for the hike. We went up Watchtower and down the hump on the way back. If you don't do hikes like this often I would recommend giving your body at least one full day of rest after climbing up. Would do this again for sure though.

Incredible hike. Did this from Crescent Meadows to Whitney Portal from 6/15-6/20 (6 days, 5 nights). Very demanding hike but no major issues in terms of stream crossings or snow. Kaweah Gap does not require snow gear, and while we used axes and spikes for a couple sections of the Whitney Trail switchbacks, the snow will likely be gone soon. The sun is very powerful and draining at these altitudes so it is best to start hiking early and bring appropriate clothing.

Highly recommend for anyone looking for a challenging hike that rewards with awesome views throughout.

6/11/18
This trail is in great shape. We backpacked to Emerald lake via the watchtower. The watchtower section is unbelievable.
Permits are easy to get and they are walk up only. This can easily be done as a day hike.
Mosquitoes were unrelenting so plan accordingly.

Have been using this trail for 18 years because it is dog friendly and worth every bit of the climb to Weaver Lake. Our GPS recorded 7.6 miles from the trailhead at Big Meadow to Weaver Lake and just over 1250 feet of elevation change.

hiking
26 days ago

I did this hike on Monday 6 18, 2018. weather is nice in the mid-70s sunshine. there was a few people up there I saw Maybe 4 hikers on my loop around hump and back down Watchtower. saw only two people at Heather Lake. mosquitoes at Heather Lake will not bad though they were hungry. it seems that the trout in the lake we're hungrier they were swimming around ravenously hopping up and grabbing the bugs off the surface.

hiking
27 days ago

Saw beautiful flowers like snow plants and wildflowers. Lots of mosquitoes. Also seen a chorus frog.

Completed this hike on 6-16-2018. The trail has consistent up climbing for the first 3 miles. It’s not too bad until the elevation gets to you. The trail was easy to follow and we only crossed a hand full of hikers. The hike itself is not done for the views but once you arrive at the lakes, you won’t regret it. The bugs aren’t too bad but if you stop for any length of time on any part of the trail, you will have a swarm of mosquitos around you. Make sure you bring bug spray and sun screen.

We hiked in with a lunch and about 1 gallon of water and the hike took a total of 8 hours. That time included exploration at the lakes, a hike around the lake and plenty of picture breaks. If you are going to do the hike in a day, I would suggest following the trail to the 10k mark of elevation to see the lake from above. We hiked in the rocks to the east of the lake as high as we could but it would have been nice to make it to the top of the rock rim.

The trail is not as steep as the summit lake hike out of shake camp in the sequoia national park. The trail does not have any surprises but the main river crossing at least around this time may be difficult for those who don’t want to get wet. I’m sure later on it will dry up a bit to stop that issue.

Lastly, I completed a 4 mile hike 7 months prior and had very little preparation for this hike. I was able to complete it with energy to spare but I did need a few days to recuperate. Anyone with any amount of experience can complete this hike.

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

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!!

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

This loop was more difficult than I anticipated and more beautiful than I could have imagined. The pictures don't do it justice. The altitude and the grade of the slopes make it difficult and the distances were longer than what is stated on the trail guides. I tracked my progress with my Garmin GPS watch and racked up considerably more distance than indicated on the maps. Maybe the maps don't account for the switchbacks or when the trail goes up and down in elevation? The snow also added to the difficulty and made it a bit more dangerous. I think I could do the loop more easily now that I know what lays ahead of me and I also think it would be easier when the snow melts off the slopes. I highly recommend this trail. Its one of those adventures that will make you ask "What was I thinking" during the hike and a week after you get home and recover you'll be trying to figure out how you can return and do it again.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice views hiking up. Getting to the water is the best part and following the unmaintained trail for a bit leads to some neat spots. Went in early June and parts of the trail were littered with ladybugs just done hibernating.

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.

Did half of it late may, I had to take the shortcut at sawtooth since I was doing this as a day hike. Went counterclock. I think it'd be doable to do the whoel thing as day hike without the snow, but with the snow it was very hard to have good speed. There is some pathfinding needed. And sawtooth is really hard to climb because of the terrain. The shortcut was hard to negotiate due to snow and lack of marks, but it was fun.

hiking
1 month ago

As of late May, it was still fully covered with snow. You need to know what you are doing, but it was amazing. I'll come back later in the season someday!
Also, I did this back and forth in a day hike, about 36 miles according to my equipment Anyhow. Very doable in a day hike if you have the legs, since up to hamilton lake (and even later - up to where there was snow) the trail is extremely well marked and easy to follow, you can do 3 miles/hour easily

Load More