This hike, known as the “Lakes Trail”, begins in the forested area of Sequoia National Park near the Lodgepole Campground at the Wolverton Trailhead. The trail offers a steady climb with a 2300 ft. elevation change and ends at the beautiful glacial bowl, Pear Lake. However, the destination of this trek is not the only point of interest - meadows, wild flowers, creeks and lush greenery lead the way to the awe inspiring Watchtower (8,973 ft.), which is located about one-third of the way to Pear Lake. Watchtower is a gigantic granite pinnacle overlooking Tokopah Valley, where you can look 1500’ below to gaze down upon Tokopah Falls and the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River.
After enjoying the views from Watchtower, we continued our climb and arrived at Heather Lake at mile 4, Aster Lake and Emerald Lake were found about mile 5, and finally we came to our destination, Pear Lake, at mile 6. My mind and body convinced me this was much further than 6 miles, but we made it in about 5 ½ hours. Between Emerald and Pear Lakes, as you turn and look west, there are fantastic views of Watchtower, Little Baldy and Big Baldy and in the distance, the great Central Valley of California. All along this portion of the trail you are able to see massive granite slabs which were moved by glaciers millions of years ago. Having moved a few rocks in my day, it is incredible to imagine the power generated by these glaciers to be able to move these mammoth stones.
Near Heather Lake looking west towards Watchtower and the great Central Valley
For those willing to take on wilderness hiking (no marked trails) you can continue on to Moose Lake, another spectacular Alpine Lake above Pear Lake, only don't expect to see any moose. Alta peak is also within reach of Pear Lake - that is, if you are in the mood for a challenging day hike from Pear.
Pockets of wild flowers hidden in the
During the summer wild flowers and hummingbirds are in abundance, unfortunately mosquitos come into play at dawn and dusk which definitely put a damper on things for a time. But you are able to quickly resume your nocturnal activity after the mosquitos call it a night. (Quick side note, be sure to pack bug repellant wipes – they are light weight and easy to carry)
Night Photography at the granite bowl
of Pear Lake
If you are looking to do some night photography, which I strongly suggest, be sure to check the lunar schedule before planning your trip. During the summer months, the Milky Way can be seen rising in the southern sky and setting in the west. Check the Photographers Ephemeris for details. On our last trip, the moon was so bright and set so late we only had about 45 minutes to try and capture the Milky Way in the western sky. Even though the moon this trip was too bright for Milky Way shots, we did get some great moonlight shots!
If you are looking for a fun and challenging long weekend hike, be sure to check out our next Pear Lake Safari schedule and set your calendar to join us.
From our camp - a granite bluff
overlooking the lake at midnight
A few photos of our last safari...
Contibuting photographer: Aaron Chamberlin
Contributing photographer: Kyle Chamberlin
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