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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    901 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    20.8 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Heather Lakes and Lake Trail


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    Table of contents

    The Heather Lake and Lakes Trail is a beautiful adventure unrivaled in its alpine scenery. Beckoning the exploration of experienced hikers and intrepid spirits, this trail travels to not one, not two, but three crystalline lakes framed by the granite ridges of the Sierra Nevada.

    Route Description for Heather Lakes and Lake Trail

    Indulge in the beauty and grandeur of the high country along the Heather Lake and Lakes Trail. Demanding some stamina, this wonderful route rewards its conquerors with awe-inspiring scenery. Traveling at high elevations warrants extreme conditions—dress in layers and check the forecast prior to your departure. Additionally, much of the path is rocky and uneven, so a sturdy pair of footwear is necessary!

    The section of the trail near the Watchtower has steep drop-offs, so take your time and mind your footing here. In the winter months, the route past the Watchtower is closed due to hazardous conditions, so off-season trekkers will have to use The Hump detour. Note entrance to the park costs $35USD per vehicle or $20USD per person for pedestrians or cyclists.

    The Heather Lake and Lakes Hike is a high-demand, high-reward type of adventure in the Sequoia National Park. Wander to three glacial basins flanked by the snow-capped craggy granite cliffs anchored by Alta Peak. In addition to the mesmerizing panoramas of the Sierra Nevada Mountains—including the Watchtower, a striking granite spire, visitors will also be granted vertigo-inducing views of Tokopah Valley below.

    Though this route is manageable as a day hike, overnight expeditions extend a more immersive experience. Exhibiting the area's native flora and fauna, this trail travels through meadows of Indian paintbrushes and columbines, mixed pine and fir forests, and offers the opportunity to spot marmots and bears along the way.

    Embark on your journey along the Heather Lake and Lakes Trail from the Lakes Trailhead off Wolverton Road. Setting out from here, intrepid hikers will be led east through a forest of mingled firs and pine trees. Soon after your departure, the trail will near Wolverton Creek, which boasts a relaxing ambiance as you meander. Gradually climbing, trekkers will have to navigate a switchback, intersecting with several seasonal, snowmelt streams.

    Soon you will reach an intersection with The Hump; keep left here when exploring in the summer, traveling to the Watchtower. Mind your footing as you ascend the vertiginous, rocky terrain past the impressive granite spire. Here, take the time to marvel at the dizzying views of Tokopah Valley below and the bounding Sierra Nevada crests.

    Touring through the high country, the tree cover will become thinner as you progress through the montane meadows. Soon you will reach Heather Lake. Admire the beauty of the crystalline glacial basin bound by the granite cliffs. From here, you will be led eastwardly to Emerald Lake, where you will find a select few backcountry campsites. Take a plunge, then progress along the Lakes Trail, noticing Aster Lake below.

    Your third and final lakeshore stop is at Pear Lake. Named for its shape, this alpine pool offers dumfounding scenery of Alta Lake towering above. Revel in scenes of the High Sierra, and when you are ready, backtrack the way you came to the trailhead, marking the end of your alpine adventure.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long is the Heather Lake and Lakes Trail?

    The Heather Lake and Lakes Trail is a 20.8 km out-and-back hike in Sequoia National Park.

    Can you swim in Heather Lake?

    Yes, Heather Lake’s crystalline waters are ideal for swimming.

    Insider Hints for Heather Lakes and Lake Trail

    • Head out in the early morning for a more tranquil experience
    • In the late fall and winter months, microspikes are recommended
    • Bring a swimsuit to enjoy the alpine pools
    • Acclimatize to the area prior to hiking
    • Pack plenty of water or a water filter
    • Arrive early to secure a backcountry campsite
    • Be mindful of afternoon altitude storms

    Getting to the Heather Lakes and Lake Trail Trailhead

    The Heather Lake and Lakes Hike departs from the Lakes Trailhead off Wolverton Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground:

      Backcountry Camping, wilderness permits required.

    • When to do:


    • Pets allowed:


    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Heather Lakes and Lake Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


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