Explore the most popular camping 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.

This trail has a little bit of everything. I especially enjoyed the numerous fly fishing opportunities along the way. We saw nine black bears on our trip.

backpacking
2 days ago

Beautiful lake, and definitely hike up to the pass and see the view!
The altitude was a bit tough for our group, had to stop and catch our breath a few times on the way up, but well worth the effort. The lake was pristine and we had a great swim after setting up camp.

This is a beautiful loop! We went clockwise and I would certainly recommend that direction; first day camping spots are better and scree skiing down Sawtooth is much better than trying to scramble up it from Monarch Lakes. I agree with others that noted the All Trails distances are off. Red numbers on map are more accurate than the All Trails lines and better match the trail signs. Rangers were still recommending marmot precautions as of 8/1/18. Trail crews did a good job of addressing the washout west of Pinto Lake and were actively fixing the one east of Pinto. Water was available pretty much throughout the loop. The only real tough patch was from Pinto to Little 5 Lakes. There's a stream at about 10,200 feet right before some switchbacks. Next water is 3+ miles away, over Big Rock Pass and down at Little 5 (the last lake is the cleanest). Mosquitoes were out around both Little and Big 5 Lakes but weren't really a problem. Caught trout all around the loop, but they were small and only good for the story. Nymphs seemed to be key. Hope this helps! Have a great trip!

by far my most favorite hike. trail was easy to follow and the climb to the top was well worth it. hike has a tons of rocks in case if you want to play "floor is lava". if you're facing the restroom trail head is to the left.

We just finished the trip. It's about 6 miles of uphill hiking and .8 mi of downhill. The end view was worth the effort. Twin lakes was fantastic. It has the best outhouse views that I know of. There were 2 bear lockers so I'm not sure why the Rangers told us we needed bear cannisters. Definitely day hike up to the ridge on the way to ranger lake. The views from a top are awesome!

hiking
5 days ago

Came here on a weekday when we could park at the trailhead. It's a short but steep hike up to the top. The views were still amazing despite some of the haziness from the nearby fires. Definitely plan to come back when the sky clears and to go to stargazing.

It was a great trip! I did see a bear and a rattlesnake. I do recommend stopping my Bearpaw Meadows to buy a brownie for $5.

hiking
8 days ago

The views are spectacular and second to none. The parking is limited. The crowds are dangerously overwhelming. Be extra careful when going up there.

The reason this hike only gets 4 stars is the lack supervision from park rangers. I saw a lot of people careless on trail that doesn't give second chances.

Scott’s review was very useful as it allowed us to prepare ourselves for the height (I have a profound respect for heights, not fear, respect!)

We only hiked to the first lake, taking the watchtower route. We were fine until we hit the cliffs... (everyone else was fine there too, I was the one who clung to the walls and was focused on making it through.). The tough part is about 400m long with some seriously scary spots..

The way back was through the hump route.

Our children joined 20, 16 and 13. Trail was beautiful and demanding. We swam at the lake then hiked down.
Recommended for sure.

Absolutely spectacular! Probably the best day hike I’ve ever been on! This trail has it all! We hit the trailhead at 0715 and had it all to ourselves! We went out to Heather Lake via Watchtower and back using the Hump Trail. The views on Watchtower are breathtaking! If you’re scared of heights this is NOT the trail for you! The edge of the trail drops off precipitously to say the least! I jumped out of planes in the Army and still found myself hugging the wall! Watchtower is the easiest way to get out to the lakes (side-hilling). Heather Lake is amazing. Crystal clear water and the trout breaching for insects is a spectacle in itself. We opted to return to the trailhead via The Hump Trail. The elevation gain on the Hump Trail is no joke. The views from the top are amazing. Going back we must have seen 30 or more hikers. Some more prepared than others. Go early and enjoy nature!!

This was by far the most wonderful hike ive ever done. Challenging though,but will give you the best legs workout. Although i didnt get to see the emerald and pear, heather was just so beautiful. The water is perfect for a quick dip, and surprisingly is not that cold!

Perfect day hike! All the best of the sierras. My hubby and daughter stopped at heather to fish for trout and hang out, while my 11 year old son and I went ahead to pear. Lakes are all beautiful and varied but pear takes the cake. Granite surrounds above the tree line and crystal blue green water for a refreshing dip. We started hiking at 7:30 and we’re back in the car by 3:30. Steep climb most of the way, and amazing and slightly scary views from watchtower...

backpacking
14 days ago

Last two miles before Twin Lakes is difficult but well worth it.

Loved this hike!!!

A real California Adventure! Personally would recommend staying two nights at Emerald and day hiking the hour to Pear Lake. Although Pear Lake does feel more isolated. Watchtower Trail is awesome as long as you're sure footed and not afraid of heights.

I completed this hike on August 4th and it was AMAZING!!! The forest in the beginning was nice and shaded and got some good views. The Watchtower is spectacular!! You walk on the ridge line and catch some epic views of the peaks across the way. Heather and Emerald Lake were beautiful but Pear Lake takes the cake. We jumped in and swam a little bit and enjoyed the sunny weather.
Side note: The trailhead said it was 6.2 to Pear Lake so in and back would be 12.4 miles.

14 days ago

Hiked it 8-4-18. It is a pretty hard hike, but the views are incredible! A steady climb all the way there but worth it. Took Us 4 hrs up an 3 down with taking alot of pics along the way. Flowers almost all the way up with plenty of deer to spot. Trail path is good, but watch ankles towards the top the rocks get rough. Next time we're spending the night to explore the lake more.

Awesome views, and the Lakes are wonderful. Very tough hike. Recommend going via watchtower and return via hump trail.

Just did this trail a few days ago. We hit the trailhead around noon on a Wednesday and boy was it hot! I was coming off a tough few days of work and starting out in 85 degree heat was not the ideal way to do this continuously uphill climb. It was very strenuous BUT... it was worth it. The lakes themselves are spectacular. Next time, we'll spend the night somewhere close by and start up early morning - way better to actually enjoy the hike.

We camped at Emerald Lake the first night and Pear lake the 2nd night. Emerald lake actually has the better campsites, and next time we'll spend two nights at Emerald lake and just day hike up to Pear Lake.

Also, the best lake to swim in was definitely Heather Lake, the first of the lakes. It's a little smaller, and thus was warmer than both Pear and Emerald Lake. We didn't try Astor Lake (next time!)

Beware the marmots at Pear Lake! We tried to set up at one of the campsites, but there was a marmot who was clearly not happy with us being in his home. We switched campsites and later found that that same marmot had been snatching clothes left out at a neighboring campsite!

Just got back from doing this trip this weekend. It was incredible! My first backpacking trip, and I loved every minute of it. The scenery and views are abundant stunning. The wildlife is beautiful - I was yelled at by a bear! The water in Pear and Emerald Lakes was so refreshing. Emerald’s water was a bit warmer, and I jumped off my first rock! =) Would totally recommend this trail. I can’t wait to go back and bring some friends next time.

Must have permit to camp - walk up only at Lodgepole. We slept in the parking lot Thursday night, and were standing in line behind 3 others before the Visitor’s Center opened. We got the last 2/3 permits.

Must have a bear canister. Pack out everything. Leave it better than you found it.

Great trail with plenty of water. Last 1.5 miles tough but the lakes and views are awesome.

Really great hike! Definitely a challenge, but certainly doable if you're in decent shape. We took 7 days (7/14-7/20) and found that to be a good sweet spot for a challenging but not too aggressive pace. Our itinerary was: Bearpaw Meadow, Hamilton Lake, Big Arroyo, Kern Hot Springs, JMT Junction, Guitar Lake, and Whitney-Whitney Portal. There was absolutely no snow and it was easy going the whole way through. There are plenty of spots for water throughout, but bringing a bladder is recommended for those draining sunny days. A few things to note: 1) Highly recommend that you bring bug spray as mosquitoes are all over this trail. They're not unbearable, but it can be very annoying at times. 2) We ran into a couple rattlesnakes along the way, so watch your step during the day as they sunbathe on the trail or in campsites 3) Trekking poles are highly recommended for stability across all the various river crossings, slowing down for steep descents, and helping up the long ascents.

A beautiful hike without question. You start by hiking through a pleasant forest until you reach the Watchtower where you finally get above the tree line and get some views. The trail can perhaps be a bit a bit scary if you're afraid of heights but I didn't think there were any tricky bits at all. That said, if you want to avoid hiking on trails that have sheer drops, use the "Hump Trail" to bypass the Watchtower section completely. Or you can use the Hump Trail on the way back so as not to retrace your steps completely. Mosquitoes can get pretty annoying, especially around the lakes, so make sure you carry a bug spray.
Overall, this is a lovely hike that will take a better part of a day but I probably wouldn't really consider it as hard. Definitely recommended.
As for wildlife, we saw plenty of yellow-bellied marmots and heard some grouse but never saw them.

hiking
25 days ago

Just lovely. My dog and I hiked this trail, starting from the horse corral at Big Meadow Trail head. The trail is quite exposed, with no clouds in the sky, which made for a warm incline. There are some shaded spots to rest along the way, that my dog took full advantage of. The trail itself is well maintained. When we arrived at the lake, we immediately dipped our toes in. The view is incredible! Shortly after we arrived, rain clouds rolled in, which was such a nice reprieve from the heat in Three Rivers. It probably took us a bit longer than other hikers considering my dog needed to stop at every shaded area in order to cool off a bit before trekking on, but the hike was super easy and enjoyable. I highly recommend wearing some sort of coverage, or re-applying sunscreen throughout the hike. The only place I got mildly burnt was by my backpack straps where my sweat cancelled out my sunscreen.

Not really a hike but the view is breathtaking

hiking
28 days ago

The ridge has awesome views of the lakes. Bring plenty of water.

hiking
28 days ago

Awesome views!

hiking
28 days ago

Short climb up to the top for views of the Sierra's and the Valley floor. Gets crowded at sunset. Pro Tip: Go right after the sun goes down - everyone leaves, you still get soft light and usually you have the top of yourself to view the city lights below and stars above. On a full moon, the mountain range behind you really light up!

camping
29 days ago

Backpacked to Weaver Lake for a place to spend the night; you don’t have to reserve camping there so it’s an easy spot if you need someplace to stay.
The hike itself was fairly easy, and great views along the way. The lake is beautiful, and I saw about 50 trout jumps that morning as they were snatching some bugs. If you climb up the rocky slope on the east of the lake you get some amazing views. Check out the photos.

backpacking
1 month ago

The trail was very strenuous but easy to follow and well worth it. The views going up the trail and at the lake were amazing, and the Brook trout fishing in the main lake was excellent.

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