Hike to Emerald Lake, Sequoia National Park

Details

Distance

10.4 miles

Elevation Gain

2200 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Felix Madrid

Hike rocky alpine terrain to a stunning (and sometimes frozen) lake. This hike can be done in a day or as an overnight adventure.

Begin this hike at the Alta Peak Trailhead in the Sequoia National Park. The trail initially takes you east-southeast through a loosely forested area that is stark and arid. Around 1.5 miles in you'll cross a small creek, but this creek may dry up in the late spring/summer. Shortly after the creek you will take the left leg of a trail intersection to stay on the "Lakes Trail". The trail begins to climb in elevation and the views open up to large rocky expanses. You will weave in and out of forested patches as you ascend from the west.

Soon you will come to a fork where you can go left to the famous Watchtower or stay right to climb further to the Hump ridge line. Both options will meet up again before Emerald Lake, however the Watchtower Trail is about 1.5 miles longer before they join each other again. *NOTE: The Watchtower Trail is closed sometimes due to snow in the fall through early spring. DO NOT attempt if it is closed. It can be extremely dangerous.

Regardless of which fork you take, as you near Emerald's smaller sister, Heather Lake, you will ascend to almost 9500ft before descending into the small Emerald Lake basin at 9200ft.

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Known for

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Scenic

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Reviews

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Great views and amazing lakes

Excellent hike as either a single day or as an overnight (first come first serve permits). Go a little further on the trail to reach Pear Lake.

Great scenic hike

This is a great moderate hike for those that want to get away for a day or two. The watchtower is a great stopping point for lunch with a view. incredible scenery.

362 total saves

4.5/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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