Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pear Lake As A Day Hike

Dale Matson

Click on photos to enlarge

Taking A Break At The Watchtower

When I hike, I like to hike to a view or hike to water. This hike combines both and while strenuous, is one of the best day hikes in Sequoia National Park. The trailhead is two hours from Fresno taking highway 180 east and the General’s Highway south to Wolverton. Wolverton is just south of Lodgepole. 

While the outbound trail sign at Wolverton states that it is 6.2 miles to Pear Lake, my GPS had the round trip at over 14 miles with over 3,000’ of altitude gain over the course of the entire hike. The beginning elevation is about 7,275’. This was a long hike of 9.5 hours.  This is a civilized grade throughout most of the hike with the trail in shade until it breaks out into the open at the “Watchtower” if you take this loop rather than the “Hump” route. 

 Telephoto Shot Of Tokopah Falls
Telephoto Shot Of Trail To The Falls View

At the Watchtower, you can see and hear the Tokopah Falls on the Kaweah River far below. You can see a trail out of the Lodgepole campground (less than 4 miles round trip) that takes you to a viewing area of the falls. Both the Watchtower and Hump Trails rejoin before Heather Lake. We took the Watchtower loop both outbound and inbound.

Heather Lake

After the Watchtower, the trail follows a ledge and one must be careful about walking along this spot. The trail as far a Heather Lake is popular since it is only 8 miles as an out and back. Water resupply is not an issue with the lakes along the way. There is no overnight camping at Heather Lake.

Aster Lake From Trail Above

Emerald Lake

Looking Back At Watchtower

Telephoto Of Ranger Station/Ski Hut

Sharon Standing Next To Evergreen Tree

After Heather Lake, the trail travels between Aster Lake and Emerald Lakes. While Aster Lake can be seen from the trail, it is less accessible at over 100’ below the trail, Emerald lake is an easy walk and worth the view. There are established campgrounds at both Emerald and Pear Lakes with lavatory facilities also. An overnight wilderness permit is required.

Pear Lake

The trail climbs another 300’ to Pear Lake and the view is the best of the lakes along the way. The vistas are great along the trail and become even better as the afternoon clouds begin to roll in with the better lighting of the sun angle. The Pear Lake Ranger Station is on a separate trail, considerably north and 300’ below Pear Lake.

There are trail markers in the trees that indicate that this is also a winter ski trail. The Ranger Station is a ski hut in the winter. While rare, a man was killed in an avalanche in 2008 near Heather Lake.
There is a YouTube video here:  

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