Hike to Pear Lake via the Lakes Trail

Yosemite Alta Peak Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Running, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    12.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2300 Feet

Easy Parking

Hike past three stunning alpine lakes and take in expansive granite views before reaching your prize, Pear Lake.  

The Lakes Trail to Pear Lake can be done as either an overnight stay or a day hike.  For overnight, you'll need to get a permit but there are beautiful camping spots available at both Emerald Lake and Pear Lake.  As a day hike, plan to spend all day since you'll undoubtedly pause at each lake for pictures and snacks.

To get to the trailhead, you'll want to start from the Wolverton parking lot.  To get there from the Generals Highway, you'll turn onto Wolverton Road about 2 miles south of the Lodgepole Visitor Center and continue a mile on this road passing the turnoff for the General Sherman visitor parking.  As you approach the Wolverton parking lot, the trail will be on your left side so it's best to park in that section of the lot.  

From the start of the trail, you'll see signs outlining the distances to several locations including Alta Peak, Heather Lake, etc.  You're going all the way to the end...Pear Lake.  You'll start your hike out on the main trail here, slowly making your way uphill and meandering across a small creek.  At the two mile marker, you'll hit an intersection on the trail.  Take a left to follow the Lakes trail (going straight will send you towards Alta Peak). 

After another mile, you'll reach a split in the trail.  To your left is the Watchtower route which is often closed due to snow until summer.  The Watchtower route can be dangerous due to ice and snow so use caution and avoid it if the sign says it's closed.  The alternative is to take the Hump route to your right which has a steeper incline.  Once you've reached the top of the Hump, you'll be treated to views of the Tableland and Silliman Crest.  It's a pretty impressive sight and a welcome respite after you've been slogging up the Hump.

From here, you'll follow the trail down to the right as it steeply descends to Heather Lake.  Heather Lake is nestled between pines and makes for a great spot to take a well-deserved snack break.  This is also the point where any crowds start to thin out.  Around the far side of Heather Lake, you'll pick up the trail again and begin a slow climb out of the basin.  For another mile, you'll hike along a granite shelf until you see Aster Lake below to your left.  A short descent puts you between Aster and its neighbor, Emerald Lake.  If I had to choose, I'd spend more time at Emerald Lake due to its size and beauty.  It's rimmed on three sides by sheer cliffs with water cascading into the lake.  Pro tip - there are solar toilets at both Emerald Lake and Pear Lake but bring your own TP.

At this point, you're almost to Pear Lake.  The trail leads upwards away from Emerald Lake and offers views across the Tokopah Valley.  While I enjoyed this entire hike, the portion between Emerald Lake and Pear Lake was my favorite thanks to the rocky terrain and seemingly never-ending views.  After a mile, you'll reach your final destination Pear Lake.  While all the lakes are impressive, Pear Lake with Alta Peak looming in the background stood out among them.  After you've devoured lunch amid the marmots, you'll head back the way you came. If you're planning to overnight, you can set up camp and enjoy the solitude and beauty of Pear Lake.  It's a long hike either way but well worth it if you're in Sequoia.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Raincoat
  • Snacks 
  • Lunch to devour at Pear Lake
  • Hiking Boots
  • Camera
  • Permit (if overnight)
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Overall rating: 

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This is one of my favorite hikes in Sequoia Nat'l Park! The hike is fairly difficult especially if you aren't used to altitude. I would definitely recommend spending the night up at Pear Lake if you have the time, the views from the campsites are stunning.

10 months ago
10 months ago

Will CebronExplorer

Venice, CA is home but I'm usually on the go. @wcebron everywhere.

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