Explore the most popular lake 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.

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
3 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!!

hiking
4 days ago

We liked it. We only completed a portion of it. Weather was warm. But the construction en route delayed us and we didn’t want to stay stuck in the mountain overnight.
It took us about 2 hours to hike up about 6km
(I was carrying a 45lbs bag and had 3 teenagers with us, so we made many stops.)
Route down was easier took almost 80 min

We each consumed 2-4 litres of water. Although there is a local spot at around 3km mark with drinkable water.

We will try to head out to mineral king area tomorrow to see if any of the trails there look good.

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...

Loved this hike!!!

backpacking
9 days ago

Awesome!

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.

Great hike to a beautiful lake. Would recommend starting early enough in the day to continue on to Pear Lake. Heather Lake is a great spot to relax and take a swim in refreshing water. About 4.1 miles via the Watch Tower. Would recommend this route as its much more scenic both coming and going than the Hump Trail. Took bug spray but didn't need it at all on the trail or near the lake.

9 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.

Beautiful hike! Elevation climb is tough, so make sure to take it slow, but the views are unbelievable. Though this hike can be done in one day, we stayed over night and it was so peaceful, definitely recommend this hike as a backpacking trip. Make sure to watch out for marmots, they were all over the place during this time of year, so keep an eye on your stuff.

hiking
13 days ago

We went out by way of Watchtower and back over The Hump. Watchtower view is just extraordinary, even for Sequoia. The Hump route is a bit of a slog. Great hike if you’ve had time to acclimate to the altitude. Otherwise it will seem longer and steeper than it is. It was wonderfully cool on a July day when lower elevations were baking.

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.

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
19 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
23 days ago

Awesome views!

hiking
23 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
23 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
27 days 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.

I took my 8 year old son and 64 year old father on this hike. It was a first time backpacking for both of them. They both made it and enjoyed it; though, this hike was a little harder than I expected it to be. My son carried his own pack with his sleeping bag and clothes. But he struggled a little. It was very steep going in towards the lake. Still, Heather and Emerald lakes are beautiful and we had a great time. On the hike out, my dad was already making plans for his next backpacking trip, and after In ‘N Out, my son was excited to hit the trail again, too. We all got eaten by mosquitoes pretty good on this trip, so if you have some kind of netting, I’d recommend getting taking it.

Getting the permit for overnight was easier than expected. We showed up at 6:55, doors opened at 7 and we were second in line and able to get a spot without any trouble.

nature trips
27 days ago

Grateful to those who crafted this amazing feat with stairs, bars, etc. so that generations can climb and enjoy the beautiful views! A definite must if you're in the Sequioa Forest!

Nice, short hike. The views are awesome.

hiking
1 month 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.

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